Drizly’s Top 5 Craft Hard Seltzer Brands
The hard seltzer market is maturing and diversifying – craft brands are gaining traction in local markets. Explore insights from five of Drizly’s best-sellers
It’s no secret that hard seltzer has established itself as an all-season mainstay, skyrocketing from five percent of beer share on Drizly in 2018 to 20 percent of share in 2020. So far in 2021, hard seltzer has maintained that 20 percent share of beer sales, setting the category up for strong summer sales.
While big brands like White Claw, Truly, and Bud Light have dominated hard seltzer sales in previous years — and likely will continue to do so this year — the category isn’t quite as homogenous as it once was.
“While hard seltzers from major beer brands are gaining share and have the advantage of their brand name, craft brands are also growing in share, particularly in their local or target markets,” explains Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, who notes that stocking a mix of craft hard seltzer producers can drive revenue for retailers. “Allocating shelf space to craft brands often drives higher margins for retailers in addition to supporting smaller, innovative businesses in the industry.”
Consumers are increasingly seeking out new and interesting hard seltzer options, so retailers can benefit by offering a diverse set of hard seltzer brands, flavors, and alcoholic strengths.
“I think providing the consumer with a product mix in the hard seltzer category is really important rather than just giving space to power players,” says Katie Beal Brown, the founder and CEO of Lone River, a Texas-based powerhouse whose Ranch Water seltzers are agave-based. “It’s important to give consumers choice.”
From Massachusetts to Colorado, explore the diverse flavors and unique styles across five of Drizly’s top craft hard seltzer brands.
1. Lone River Ranch Water (West Texas)
“When we looked at the hard seltzer category we saw a sea of sameness,” says Beal Brown on her decision to launch a 100 percent agave-based hard seltzer brand in 2020. “A lot of the seltzer market was vodka-inspired, not agave- or tequila-inspired, so we were one of the first to introduce that. We believe it’s worthwhile to combine the high growth potential of the tequila and agave-based segment with the insatiable demand for hard seltzer.”
Beal Brown was also determined to use organic agave and fresh juices to craft Ranch Water, eschewing added flavors and ingredient shortcuts. This approach and finely-tuned marketing, which avoids what Beal Brown believes are feminine cliches in the beverage category, made it one of the first craft brands to gain a consumer cult following. As a result, Lone River was recently acquired by global drinks powerhouse Diageo.
2. Night Shift Hoot Hard Seltzer (Boston)
After over a year of experimentation, Boston-based Night Shift Brewing launched their Hoot Hard Seltzer in 2019. Hoot, a zero-sugar spiked seltzer, differentiates itself in the market by utilizing wine yeasts rather than the traditional distillers’ yeasts. The choice yields a beverage that’s slightly lower in calories and alcohol than most hard seltzer options; Hoot clocks in at just 90 calories and 4% ABV.
The brand’s top-selling market on Drizly is its hometown of Boston, where the variety pack and raspberry lime flavors dominate.
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3. Oskar Blues Wild Basin (Longmont, Colorado)
“All seltzers are not created equal,” explains Oskar Blues senior marketing manager Aaron Baker. “Quality is of the utmost importance in craft beer, and hard seltzer is no different.”
With over 20 years of brewing experience, the Oskar Blues team boasts significant brand recognition and technical product development expertise for the Wild Basin. Dubbed the first nationally-distributed craft hard seltzer brand, Banks notes that experienced beer brands in the seltzer marketplace can offer retailers support via experienced sales teams and marketing materials. Those strong marketplace connections have allowed Oskar Blues Wild Basin to gain share on Drizly in markets like Denver, New York City, and Baltimore.
4. Press Spiked Seltzer (Milwaukee)
Founded in 2015, Press was an early entry to the market and remains a key player in markets across the Midwest and East Coast, including Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
Founder Amy Walberg built press on three no-compromise pillars: All Press seltzers are delicious, low-ABV, and have sophisticated flavor profiles such as Blackberry Hibiscus and Pomegranate Ginger. Available in sleek, slender cans, Press offers a hard seltzer with a sleek, sophisticated look and feel.
5. Upslope Brewing Spiked Snowmelt (Boulder, Colorado)
Spiked Snowmelt combines adventurous flavors and a health-centric approach in their spiked seltzers. Based in Boulder, Colorado, Upslope Brewing uses unique flavor combinations for their hard seltzers, such as Juniper and Lime, Tangerine and Hops, and Pomegranate and Acai. Highlighting the seltzers’ low-calorie, low-carb, low-sugar appeal, Snowmelt captures the attention of active, health-conscious drinkers — particularly those who have just gotten off the ski slopes.
On Drizly, the brand’s most popular flavors are the variety pack and variety pack Electrolyte Series, which was developed with sports nutrition company Skratch Labs. Spiked Snowmelt’s biggest market is nearby Denver, where the brand boasts a devoted local following.