Craft Brew Alliance to Launch ‘Low-Proof’ Alcoholic Seltzer Line in July

One month after formally establishing its pH Experiment, a growth unit tasked with developing innovative products that play on the fringes of the beer category, Craft Brew Alliance today announced the launch of a new low-proof seltzer line called Pacer.

Checking in at 2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and containing just 50 calories and 1 gram of sugar, the new gluten-free lineup – which is made from a cane sugar base — will launch in three flavor varieties in July.

“We heard from many drinkers who said they wanted something that would help them pace themselves to stay in control,” pH Experiment general manager Karmen Olson said via a press release. “With seltzers growing triple digits but available only in non-alcohol or 5 percent ABV, we saw an opportunity to create a low-proof offering that would allow drinkers to moderate at their own pace.”

Pacer Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon & Lavender, and Melon & Mint flavors will be sold in 6-packs, as well as variety 12-packs, at “leading chains” in markets across the U.S., according to the release.

Speaking to Brewbound, Olson said the 12-packs would carry a suggested retail price of about $15. The line will be distributed by roughly a half dozen wholesalers as the company tests the viability of a product containing approximately half the calories of leading alcoholic seltzer offerings.

“Part of the DNA of the pH Experiment is to truly test things,” said Olson. “While I aim for this test to be successful, I want it to be a true test.”

The hard seltzer category now accounts for about 1.3 percent of total off-premise beer sales, according to Nielsen.

While large players such as Mark Anthony Brands and Boston Beer Company dominate the segment with their respective White Claw and Truly Hard Seltzer offerings, dozens of craft breweries have rushed into the space with products of their own in recent months.

Most recently, companies such as Ninkasi Brewing and Harpoon have announced forays into hard seltzer. Other notable craft outfits making alcoholic water products include Wachusett Brewing (Nauti Seltzer), Two Beers Brewing (Sound Hard Seltzer), M.I.A Beer Company (HRD WTR), Braxton Brewing (Vive), and Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective (multiple brands), among many others.

Most of the hard seltzer products — including those from multinational players Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors — are nearly identical. The majority are flavored with lime, grapefruit, and berry, and check in at about 5 percent ABV. They contain roughly 100 calories and have anywhere from 1-5 grams of carbohydrates.

But CBA is zigging where others are zagging, in hopes of determining whether there’s an opportunity to create a new alcoholic seltzer occasion as an increasing number of consumers look to moderate their alcohol intake.

“I don’t want to be in the business of convincing someone to need a product,” Olson said. “We want to provide a solution that consumers are asking for. And if the consumer doesn’t want it, we are prepared to pull back.”

A press release with additional details is included below.

Craft Brew Alliance’s pH Experiment Rolls Out Pacer Low Proof Seltzer For Summer

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The pH Experiment, a growth unit within Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) (NASDAQ: BREW), is launching its second new product test – a line of low alcohol, low-calorie seltzers. The new beverage is the latest innovation to come from CBA’s pH Experiment which is focused on creating, incubating and accelerating new products and experiences that put drinkers’ needs first.

Developed by pH Experiment Innovation Brewmaster Thomas Bleigh, the new beverage line is called Pacer Low Proof Seltzer and will be offered in three unique flavors: Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon & Lavender, and Melon & Mint. Each seltzer is gluten-free and under 50 calories, with less than 1 gram of sugar and 2% alcohol by volume. Available in two can packages, a Variety 12-pack and Blood Orange 6-pack, Pacer will hit shelves in July targeting leading chains in markets across the U.S.

The pH Experiment taps into more than 12 months of consumer research to identify and anticipate opportunities to quench drinkers’ thirst. “We already knew moderation was becoming more important to drinkers. What we understood more fully after last year’s research was that moderation means different things to different people in different occasions,” said pH Experiment General Manager Karmen Olson. “We heard from many drinkers who said they wanted something that would help them pace themselves to stay in control. With seltzers growing triple digits but available only in non-alcohol or 5% ABV, we saw an opportunity to create a low proof offering that would allow drinkers to moderate at their own pace.”

Pacer is the second innovation test launched by CBA’s pH Experiment this year. In March, the pH Experiment announced the introduction of PRE Aperitivo Spritz, a distinctively dry botanical bubbly inspired by the classic Italian cocktail. PRE will be available to drinkers in Oregon, California, Arizona and Tennessee this Memorial Day in six-packs of 12 oz cans and 12 oz clear bottles.

About Craft Brew Alliance

CBA is an independent craft brewing company that brews, brands, and brings to market world-class American craft beers.

Our distinctive portfolio combines the power of Kona Brewing Company, a dynamic, fast-growing national craft beer brand, with strong regional breweries and innovative lifestyle brands Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Omission Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery, Square Mile Cider Co., Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Wynwood Brewing Co. CBA nurtures the growth and development of its brands in today’s increasingly competitive beer market through our state-of-the-art brewing and distribution capability, integrated sales and marketing infrastructure, and strong focus on partnerships, local community and sustainability.

Formed in 2008, CBA is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and operates breweries and brewpubs across the U.S. CBA beers are available in all 50 U.S. states and 30 different countries around the world. For more information about CBA and our brands, please visit www.craftbrew.com.

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