Friday, January 29, 2016

The Rise of Hard Soda

There’s no denying the impact that Not Your Father’s RootBeer has had on the beer market over the last year. It was the third top-selling craft beer brand in the U.S. between January 1 and November 29, 2015, selling more than long-time craft brands like Samuel Adams Boston Lager. That’s an incredible feat for a product that was virtually unknown before last summer – and the brewing industry has taken notice.

Both small and large brewers have begun releasing their answers to this hard root beer phenomenon. Boston Beer Co. (owner of Samuel Adams and Angry Orchard) threw their hat in the hard root beer ring with Coney Island Hard Root Beer, which is now the second highest selling alcoholic root beer. Anheuser-Busch also joined in with their root beer offering, Best Damn Root Beer.

Root beer is just the first step in the hard soda category. With the success that these products have had in the market, brewers have started releasing other hard soda flavors, like Henry’s Hard Orange Soda and Ginger Ale by MillerCoors. Released earlier this month, Henry’s Hard Soda is bringing a new twist to the segment, by producing more refreshing, lower-alcohol offerings aimed at Gen Xers.

So what has caused this rise in hard soda’s popularity?

Consumers are always looking for new and interesting beverage choices, especially in the craft beer community. Hard sodas have offered the less hop-headed drinkers a sweeter alternative to beer. Non-alcoholic carbonated soft drinks sales have been declining steadily, as people have become more health conscious. Many consumers feel that if they are going to indulge in soda, they would prefer for it to have alcohol in it.

Is the hard soda category sustainable, or will it be a passing fad? It’s still too early to tell, but with the prominent success of Not Your Father’s Root Beer and other brands, we are just seeing the beginning of the hard soda explosion. Expect much, much more in 2016.

Check out our Hard Soda recipe Pinterest board here!

We enjoyed making some Not Your Father's Root Beer floats today in the office! 

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