Liquid Enhancement Now On Tap

Holy Shamwoww! You can hear Vince Shlomi hawking it now:

“Imagine going to a ballpark or concert where Miller Lite is the rule and making up a tasty beer of your very own. No, we’re not talking about an in-pocket homebrew operation (pantsbrew?), we’re talking about OnTap, a ‘flavor enhancer’’ that can be added to ordinary beer to give it craft flavors.”

The infomercial isn’t real — but the product is. Hoping to tap into the success of a robust and growing craft beer segment, OnTap Beer LLC — a Littleton, Co.-based startup that markets flavored, non-alcoholic liquid beer enhancers — is hoping to give every beer consumer a shot at becoming their own brewmaster.

OnTap, which quietly launched two, do-it-yourself craft-like liquid beer enhancers last week, is betting that domestic beer drinkers on a budget — i.e. the 21-to-34-year-old set — want more flavor than their familiar light lagers currently provide. And although the company is targeting DIY millennials, co-owner Solie Swann said the product was originally developed for a much different reason. Doug Davis, the founder of OnTap Beer LLC, said he used to drink craft beer with the best of them, but had to alter his consumption habits after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

“He thought, ‘what if I could create an additive that was like MiO but for beer?’” said Swann.

And so, OnTap LLC was born.

MiO, a popular brand of liquid water enhancers was launched by Kraft Foods in 2011 and is on pace to surpass $200 million in sales this year. Swann hopes to mimic the success.

The OnTap product consists of water, propylene glycol, and natural and artificial flavors. It has zero calories, zero alcohol, and is gluten-free. Two flavors — Ale and Pale Ale — are currently available at a sprinkling of liquor stores in Colorado, and on the company’s website. Additional shandy, stout and cider flavors are currently in development, Swann said.

“If we can find some first round funding, our first-year revenue goals are one percent of the domestic drinking beer market,” he said. “If we could reach one percent of the domestic beer market, it would put our gross revenue in the $35 to $40 million range.”

So what’s the sales pitch? Swann said that a $3.99 bottle of OnTap is enough to enhance the flavor profile of a 18 regular beers — resulting in a 33 percent savings compared to craft beer.

But that’s not necessarily the target market, he added: Swann said he’s hoping that OnTap attracts the do-it-yourself consumer.

“Every beer is your own beer,” he said. “You don’t have to drink what some brewmaster has decided what beer should taste like.”

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