By: Anthony Brousseau
Just as the craft beer boom hit Minnesota a few years ago, a new beverage trend is gaining steam—hard seltzers. National brands of the light, fruity alcoholic beverage can be found all over, but soon you’ll see a local option on your liquor store’s shelves.
Stillwater’s own Lift Bridge Brewing Co. has been serving hard seltzers at its taproom for a while now, and in May, you’ll finally be able to pick up the summery spirits for a night at home.
“Right now we’re just really excited knowing that in a few short weeks we’ll be seeing it on the store shelves,” says Brad Glynn, Lift Bridge co-owner and marketing director.
The canned seltzers will come in three flavors—St. Croix Berries, Northwoods Juice Box and Voyageurs Citrus. Each was developed with the St. Croix Valley and Minnesota in general in mind, Northwoods Juice Box in particular.
“We, again, wanted to be really regionally relevant and kind of make flavors for us, for our area, so one thing that we noticed wasn’t represented in the market really at all was that cran-apple combination,” Glynn says. “And again, being in the Midwest, there’s nothing more classic of flavor than cranberry and apple.”
St. Croix Berries blends raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, while Voyageurs Citrus combines grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange. Glynn says all of the seltzers are 120 calories, have only 3 grams of carbs and are 5 percent alcohol by volume. Additionally, they’re made with “all-natural fruit flavorings," he says.
“Nothing artificial in this product whatsoever,” he says.
This isn't the first time Lift Bridge has strayed from the craft beer world. They've already created two sodas—root beer and mini donut cream soda—and plan to add a third, black cherry, to their repertoire. The seltzer idea was spurred as Lift Bridge looked around and spotted a pattern in the world of potables.
“Definitely looking at the market trend over the last several years, seltzers are really a big category of alcoholic beverage,” Glynn says. “Just kind of seeing that develop over the last few years, it really made us think, ‘Hey, we should really look at that and see if we can do that.’
“It’s kind of similar to the craft beer revolution where we looked at the beer that was out there in the market and thought, ‘How can we make it more regionally relevant, how can we speak to our customers in the St. Croix Valley and really make a product for us and for our neighbors, essentially.’”
A visit to the Lift Bridge taproom will continue to offer hard seltzer fans flavors beyond the canned options. At a recent release party for the brewery’s Mango Blonde beer, they poured a Mucho Mango flavored seltzer. For Cinco de Mayo, they’re planning a margarita flavor.
“It’s a fun way for us to experiment with new flavors,” Glynn says. “And for customers, it’s awesome to stop by the taproom because you never know what fun stuff you’ll have.”
And the seltzers, whether canned or tapped, appease an audience that’s, understandably, tough for breweries to target—the non-beer drinker.
“There are a lot of people out there that don’t drink beer, they either don’t like the flavor or they are avoiding gluten,” Glynn says. “If you have a group of friends going out for some drinks, and if you’re going to go to a brewery and someone says, ‘Well, I don’t drink beer,’ you’re probably not going to go to a brewery.
“So it’s been really cool to be able to provide that ‘having drinks with friends’ experience to people that for one reason or another don’t drink beer.”
But Glynn and the rest of the Lift Bridge brigade think even beer drinkers will be tempted by the fruity allure of the seltzers.
“It’s also super refreshing and I think people appreciate that,” Glynn says. “Really in the summer it’s going to be great on a nice, warm day to be sitting on the patio having a crisp, cool, refreshing seltzer.”
Lift Bridge’s canned hard seltzers are set to hit liquor stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas in May. Glynn says they’ll be available in six-packs of individual flavors or a 12-can sampler with four cans of each flavor.