But Kaddy has decided to strip away a bit of the B/S about the upcoming 2021 Summer of Seltzer and bring you the news you can use.
We’ve talked to the creators of some absolute belters of seltzers who are putting their own spin on the category, so you can stock up on the stuff that will actually sell.
Very simply put, ‘seltzer’ refers to alcoholic sparkling water. The ready-to-drink beverage is most often a combination of carbonated water, alcohol and flavouring – typically of the fruit variety. You’ve likely heard terms like ‘hard’, ‘brewed’, or ‘boozy’ that often go along with the word ‘seltzer’, so we’ve broken down the jargon so you know what’s what.
A ‘brewed’ seltzer is created through a similar process to beer, where the drink’s alcohol comes from the fermentation of grain or rice. As such, some Australian breweries are applying their expertise to the seltzer category, resulting in a number of new brews from the industry’s established players.
On the topic of brewed seltzers, “they have more body and a little more natural acidity, which makes them more refreshing and sessionable,” says Tully Mansfield, National Sales Manager at Sydney’s Wayward Brewing Co. “That said, it is extremely challenging to get them right. The best examples will be crystal clear and super clean, with big aroma, subtle flavour and no residual sweetness.”
Blended, or distilled, seltzers typically distil the alcohol separately (often vodka or another spirit) before blending it with the water and other ingredients. DELVI for example, sources high-quality organic ingredients and cold-presses them to help extract Vitamin C and natural active phytonutrients. In a brewing process, these minerals would be lost in the filtration process that is necessary for brewed seltzer to achieve a clearer, water-like appearance. By blending their seltzer instead, DELVI can retain their all-natural vitamin and mineral content.
James Dumay, Master Distiller at Wildspirit, highlights the importance of blended seltzers’ naturally crystalline appearance “I think consumers will gravitate to seltzers that are clear and not coloured. In response, breweries manufacturing seltzer will have to focus on making their seltzer bases clearer and lighter. That's a lot of R&D investment but its that long path to making a better product.”
Terms like ‘spiked seltzer’ and ‘hard seltzer’ all mean the same thing – they are used to make it extra clear to parents that the product is alcoholic and so not for kids. The term ‘boozy seltzer’ was potentially dodgy a couple of months ago, with Brookvale Union facing an Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code complaint about the term. Ultimately the complaint was dismissed, so we may see a few more “boozy” brands join the seltzer bandwagon.
Technically speaking, seltzers can be considered an RTD, or “ready-to-drink” product. But where traditional RTDs are more commonly thought of as being high in sugar (or ‘alcopops’), seltzers are cleverly distanced from RTDs in both name and content. Seltzers’ primary ingredients – carbonated water and often natural flavours – lead to lower sugar, lower carb and lower calorie offerings.
“Hard seltzer has really broad appeal due to its simplicity. It's hard not to like.”
– Sam Hambour, Hop Nation
As they are lower in sugar, carbs and calories than other traditional RTDs, sours, and ciders, Seltzers are often positioned as a healthier alternative to what people are already drinking. This positioning has been great for consumers who want a guilt-free option that lets them put away a few cold ones without putting on a few kilos.
“Due to the low calorie and sugar content, the category is skewed towards a health-conscious audience,” – says Sam Hambour, GM at Hop Nation – the brewery behind the brewed seltzer ‘Ray.
“But we've really seen 'Ray resonate with a whole spectrum of people—including our usual craft beer crowd. Hard seltzer has really broad appeal due to its simplicity. It's hard not to like.”
This broad appeal extends across both the lads and the ladies – something cleverly amplified by bigger seltzer brands in the US adopting more gender-neutral advertising and branding. Pioneering the category with a focus more on co-ed social gatherings and millennial “group hangs”, seltzer dodges the established tropes of ‘beer for blokes + wine for women’ that has dominated alcohol advertising and brand perceptions for decades.
“Australians are a diverse community who all enjoy an envious ability to balance between leading an active lifestyle and relaxing + rewarding themselves” says DELVI’s Jonathan Kerley.
This 1-2 punch of a healthy offering for a post-gender generation is big business – especially with health-conscious and socially progressive millennials being the most likely to try new brands.
And in a time when low and non-alcoholic options have seen double-digit growth during the Covid-19 pandemic, James Dumay from Wildspirit agrees it’s important to cater to these more considered consumers who are looking for alternatives. It was a segment of the market they had in mind when developing their alcoholic sparkling water range.
“Anyone who wants to drink socially but wants to be more conscious about their drinking choices. We chose to formulate a 1 standard drink, low sugar product to suit people who might not fit the beer, wine or cider camp.”
“This is a product that supports the seismic shift consumers have made away from heavy carbs and high sugar drinks “
– Jonathan Kerley, DELVI
Inspired and informed by the category’s popularity in the United States, Australian consumers are already actively seeking seltzers. And to people in the industry like Hop Nation’s Sam Hambour, it sounds like their appetite is here to stay.
“If the US is anything to go by, the category will only go from strength to strength. Consumers are increasingly looking for healthier alternatives; and with hard seltzer you don't need to compromise on taste or quality to get that. It's really an all-occasion drink. Once the weather starts to warm up, it'll be the first thing you feel like drinking on a sunny day.”
But are seltzers just a seasonal ‘flavour of the month’? Not according to the data, says Chief Operating Officer of DELVI, Jonathon Kerley,
“In the USA, Winter sales accelerated. Seltzers are not a Summer fad, this is a product that supports the seismic shift consumers have made away from heavy carbs and high sugar drinks. As an industry, we need to embrace the shift and support the market with Australian Made Seltzers.”
“We think Seltzers are going to be huge - they're the perfect drink for the Australian climate.” agrees Wayward’s Tully Mansfield “There's a lot hitting the market all at once though, so it'll be a matter of people trying a few different brands and working out what they like.”
So where do you begin? We tend to agree with DELVI’s Jonathan Kerley;
“Don't miss this market. Bring Australian Made and Owned Seltzers front and centre to your store offer – help customers to learn what Seltzers are.”
Dreamt up by the seasoned brewers at Hop Nation, you know you're in for a treat with this one.
‘Ray is named after Footscray – the hometown of the legends at Hop Nation. As a brewed seltzer, ‘Ray benefits from its brewery heritage with hops used early in the brewing process before the fruit is added later on. ‘Ray’s pedigree as a Hop Nation product makes it a great recommendation for craft beer fans and anyone who may initially be sceptical on seltzers.
Calories: 88 calories per can
Flavours: Watermelon & Mint, Lemon & Lime, Peach
100% Natural and blended with Organic Australian extracts, DELVI is keeping it real
With a purposefully Australian focus on the category, DELVI’s hard seltzer is rocking some cool and funky flavour by way of wild-harvested Aussie extracts. At just 90 calories per can and with ingredients sourced from Australian organic growers and farmers, you can feel good about drinking DELVI while you feel good about drinking DELVI.
Calories: 90 per can
Flavours: Blood Orange Passion, Desert Lime
Distilled, not brewed, making it crystal clear, low in sugar and with all-natural fruit flavourings.
Whilst not a seltzer by name, it certainly is one in spirit – a light and refreshing alternative to beer, wine and vodka mixers. Although produced by the team behind Dad & Dave’s Brewing, you may be more familiar with Wildspirit brand for their mastery of craft gins. Applying their distillation expertise to the seltzer category, Wildspirit’s resulting Alcoholic Sparkling Water is refreshingly dry and fruity.
Flavours: Luscious Lime, Magic Mango, Pure Passion, Royal Raspberry
Super clean, crystal clear, outrageously refreshing, and best of all, locally owned and brewed.
As longtime personal fans of Hard Seltzer, Wayward Brewing Co. have been determined to bring the concept to Australia. After trying some of the top US brands in 2019, the team knew they could brew a seltzer that was just as good, if not better, than the big guys. After a 12-month process of testing and refining their recipe, W represents Wayward Brewing Co’s mission to produce the perfect brewed Seltzer.
Flavours: Classic Lime, Tropical Mango, Summer Berries
The lowest calorie seltzer in Australia with a leading flavour architecture.
VACAY is the lowest calorie seltzer in the market with under 62 calories in every 330ml slimline can. Impressively, VACAY has managed to balance this with a premium taste – it is the only seltzer created by a leading Australian sommelier!
Not only delicious, 10% of VACAY’s net profit goes toward Cure Cancer, making sure you drink good and feel good!
Right now, bottle shops, pubs and restaurants can order seltzer direct from Hop Nation, DELVI, Wildspirit, Wayward and VACAY using Kaddy.
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