Hard seltzer is king. Big beer owns it

Business

New York (CNN Business)Mountain Dew’s Baja Blast, the beloved tropical lime-flavored beverage that originated at Taco Bell, is being made boozy.

Boston Beer Company, which partnered with Pepsi to make a spiked seltzer version of the soft drink, exclusively told CNN Business that it’s surprising fans with a new “HARD MTN DEW” flavor that wasn’t part of its original announcement.
Baja Blast is the fourth flavor to the spiked seltzer lineup, joining original, watermelon and black cherry.”HARD MTN DEW” will be released in late February in a limited number of states.

    HARD MTN DEW hits shelves in February.
    Announced in August 2021, the 100-calorie spiked seltzer is 5% alcohol by volume, caffeine free and has no added sugar. Boston Beer (SAM) said the boozy beverage will be “marketed to adults of legal age and merchandized consistently with other alcohol beverages.”

      Baja Blast first got its start at Taco Bell in 2004 in what was a first-of-its-kind deal between a fast food chain and a beverage maker. The flavor was made to complement’s the chain’s Mexican-inspired food and give it an advantage over its competitors. The flavor was so popular that Pepsi starting selling it seasonally at stores about a decade later.

      Notably, Boston Beer’s current CEO Dave Burwick was Pepsi’s chief marketer during that time and the beer company said he was “instrumental” in the flavor’s creation. Nearly 20 years later, the flavor still has rabid fans that regularly post about it on Reddit and it has expanded to several different varieties, including sugar free.
      Boston Beer also makes Truly Hard Seltzer, which was once a bright spot for the company. However, sales have drastically slowed forcing the company to “crush millions of cases of product” before it went stale. Shares are down 55% over the past year.

        Still, partnering with an established brand in a beverage category that’s still growing (albeit not as quickly) could help Boston Beer. Flavored malt beverages sales grew 5.5% in 2021 to more than $3.1 billion, according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.
        This week, Coca-Cola (KO) announced its third such collaboration between itself and an alcohol maker. This summer, it’s launching Simply Spiked Lemonade, an alcoholic drink inspired by the Simply brand’s fruit juice that will be sold in the alcohol aisle.
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