Oskar Blues to Launch Hard Seltzer Line in 2019

Craft beer maker Oskar Blues is expanding into the hard seltzer space.

The Longmont, Colorado-headquartered beer company, which is part of the Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective, is planning a nationwide launch of a new hard seltzer brand in early 2019.

Initial shipments of the new offering, called Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water, will rollout in Colorado and North Carolina in January.

“Our goal is to introduce something that can help grow the category and give drinkers a true craft option in hard seltzer,” Oskar Blues CMO Patrick Daugherty said, via a press release.

According to the release, the 100-calorie, 5 percent ABV hard seltzer will be available in four flavors — Classic Lime, Cucumber Peach, Lemon Agave Hibiscus and Melon Basil. The gluten-free product, which also contains one carb and zero sugar, is targeted to “active lifestyle consumers who value the outdoors, socializing with friends and healthier living.”

“The response from both distributors and retailers so far has been tremendous,” Canarchy president Matt Fraser said, via a press release. “We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that we have product in warehouses and on shelves.”

Oskar Blues enters a hard seltzer category dominated by Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw and Boston Beer Company’s Truly Spiked & Sparkling. Through November 4, off-premise dollar sales of the flavored malt beverages (FMB), which include hard seltzers, were up 9.7 percent in market research firm IRI’s multi-outlet and convenience store universe.

Through the first 10 months of 2018, dollar sales of White Claw variety packs were up 453 percent, to more than $90 million, while the company’s Black Cherry packs were up 137.7 percent, to more than $36 million.

Meanwhile, dollar sales of Truly variety packs were up 173 percent, to more than $52 million, according to IRI. Additionally, Boston Beer’s Truly Berry Mix Packs, which were introduced earlier this year, topped $33 million in off-premise sales.

According to Oskar Blues, Wild Basin offerings will be produced at its Longmont manufacturing facility, where the company made a “significant investment” in new canning and packaging lines.

Oskar Blues’ new product will compete alongside roughly a dozen hard seltzer brands, including “craft” offerings from breweries such as Wachusett (Nauti Seltzer), Two Beers (Sound Hard Seltzer), M.I.A Beer Company (HRD WTR) as well as products from large alcohol companies Constellation Brands (Svedka Spiked Premium Seltzer), Anheuser-Busch InBev (SpikedSeltzer) and Diageo (Smirnoff Hard Sparkling), among others.

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