With hard seltzer sales rising across the U.S. like so many carbonated bubbles, Alaskan Brewing Co. is releasing its takes on the trendy, alcoholic beverage.
The Juneau-based brewery is releasing two seltzers with Alaska-influenced flavors — spruce cherry grapefruit and spruce lemon-lime —that are poised to hit stores and bars in Alaska starting Nov. 1 and other markets next year, according to Alaskan Brewing Co.
However, some Juneauites got to try the new beverages early.
Friday evening, Alaskan Brewing Co. employees were at a handful of Juneau bars and restaurants offering sneak peek samples of the new drinks.
“Compared to White Claw, I like this a lot better,” said Felix Lee after trying the lemon-lime flavored seltzer at the Imperial Saloon.
The success of seltzers like White Claw as well as other craft brewers wading into the hard seltzer market partly explain Alaskan Brewing Co.’s new products, said Alaskan Brewing Co. product development lead Dave Wilson, who was pouring and handing out samples of the seltzers at the Triangle Club Bar.
”It’s an emerging market,” Wilson said.
Hard seltzer sales have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and out-sold well-known domestic beers. Hard seltzer is projected to become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the coming years, as reported by CNN and Business Insider.
Plus, Wilson said the seltzers are a chance to do something new. Wilson said aside from some past sodas, the seltzers are the brewery’s first non-beer efforts.
“This is an example of something different,” Wilson said. “Our brand is more of a malt-y focus.”
Instead of malt, hard seltzers use fermentable sugar, and no hops are used in making the drinks. During fermentation, the sugar is converted into alcohol, which is generally considered its own category of macronutrient, resulting in a sugar-free beverage.
Wilson said the seltzer flavors were chosen based on what works well with Sitka spruce tips, what seltzer flavors tend to be popular and internal tastings.
Folks who tried the seltzers Friday evening seemed largely impressed with the new drinks for a handful of reasons, including taste, lack of sugar and gluten and relatively low calorie and carbohydrate content.
Both the subtly sweet spruce cherry grapefruit and the unexpectedly tart lemon-lime flavors received compliments from seltzer fans and first-time hard seltzer drinkers.
“I love it,” said Karen Wood, who liked the spruce lemon-lime flavor best. “It’s really light and fresh.”
Wood said it was her first time having a hard seltzer, but she would likely have one again.
Darla Madden, who was with Wood, said she preferred the spruce cherry grapefruit flavor.
“I can see me drinking this after golfing,” Madden said.