EXCELSIOR — Excelsior Brewing Company is getting into the hard seltzer game to give non-beer drinkers an option when they visit the taproom.
John Klick, the president of the brewery, said they’ve been working hard on developing a hard seltzer after seeing products like White Claw spike in popularity over the past few years.
“The only reason we wanted to do it is we do get the consumer always coming in here saying, ‘Do you have anything but beer?’” Klick told Lakeshore Weekly News on Aug. 2.
The brewery knew it needed to provide a beverage for the non-beer drinker (Excelsior Brewing Company does make its own mineral water and sells flavored sodas), but what the brewery is licensed to make can be limiting, until Klick said they discovered it’s legal for them to “brew” hard seltzer.
There are different ways to make seltzer. The way Excelsior Brewing Company does it, is it puts its actual beer through a filtering process called a thermodynamic filtering system. At the end of the process, the brewery is left with two products — a non-alcoholic beer and a crystal-clear carbonated beverage that contains alcohol, Kilck explained.
The brewery then takes the clear beverage and adds natural flavors to it.
The seltzer is 100 calories (about half the amount that’s in an average beer) per 12-ounce serving and is 5% alcohol by volume. It contains no artificial ingredients, is gluten reduced and is low in carbohydrates.
in the works
Hibiscus Guava is the brewery’s first hard seltzer flavor, which was released July 26. It is not too sweet and gives off the essence of hibiscus guava, without being too overwhelming.
The idea for it came about during a meeting when people were joking around, and someone said “hibiscus guava” and the team thought that it sounded “awesome,” Klick remembered.
“So that’s the first one we started with, whether or not that one sticks around, we’ll see what the public says or not. But I think we’ll see some more traditional flavors coming down the pipes here as well,” Klick said.
Niles Lewin, Excelsior Brewing’s head brewer, said they like how the hibiscus guava (also called Experimental No. 1) turned out, saying it’s “nice and floral” and “not overpowering,” but they’re going to mess around with other flavors.
“Right now, the fun thing is we’re going to play with some flavors and get feedback and see what people like,” Lewin said, hinting that the next flavor he’s working on will likely be more traditional, perhaps a key lime flavor.
Klick admitted that “this isn’t a direction we went because we love hard seltzer,” they’re making it for people because they’ve been seeking out something that isn’t beer.
“We would love to hear feedback because we’re going to start cranking out some different offerings and hopefully come up with a flagship flavor,” Lewin said.
Currently, the hard seltzer is only available in the taproom, but it could be packaged and sold at liquor stores in the future.
Overall, the brewery is excited about its new offering.
“As a brewery, we’re excited to have an offering for people who are not the beer drinkers. We’ve had our Berliner Weisse, our Peach Sour available, and we kind of say it’s very champagne-like,” Lewin said. “But this is a nice option for a brewery to have for the people who just don’t like beer. We’re excited. We’ll always have it on tap.”
Excelsior Brewing Company isn’t releasing a non-alcoholic beer just yet. Although the process the beer goes through to make the seltzer leaves behind a non-alcoholic beer, Lewin and Klick said they’re not quite happy with the product just yet. However, it is something you may see in the taproom in the future.
“We’re working on some recipes to see what gets the best results,” Lewin said.
Excelsior Brewing Company is at 421 Third St. in Excelsior.