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Local craft brewers get in on hard seltzer craze

Oskar Blues releases new 'Wild Basin' boozy water
Posted at 9:20 AM, May 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-27 11:20:01-04

Runners entering Folsom Field after completing this year's BOLDERBoulder may swap the traditional beer for something new this year. Oskar Blues, the official craft brewery of the famous 10K, will hand out 40,000 cans of its new Wild Basin Boozy Water.

"We really look at ourselves as a craft beverage company and this is our first foray into something other than beer," said Matt Fraser, president of CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, which includes Oskar Blues.

The company was the first in Colorado to venture into the hard seltzer trend.

According to Nielsen, sales of alcoholic sparking waters grew 169 percent last year, while beer sales were down 0.2 percent.

Fraser said Wild Basin isn't replacing beer, but is an alternative option for customers.

"A lot of people that drink La Croix, that don't drink light beer or wine, would enjoy this product," said Fraser.

Hard seltzers are also touted as a low-carb, low-calorie alternative to beer. While the contents vary, most are around 90 to 100 calories per can, and 4-5 percent alcohol by volume.

At the Oskar Blues Boulder taproom, even customers who appear to be craft beer loyalists are intrigued.

"It's refreshing and tasty," said Matthew Wienholt, sipping a Wild Basin at the bar.

Big beverage companies are dominating the hard seltzer market so far. The Mike's Hard label is behind White Claw, the top-selling hard seltzer in the country.

Anheuser-Busch makes Bon & Viv and Boston Beer Company, the brewer of Samuel Adams, makes Truly hard seltzer.

Oskar Blues hopes to become the first local craft brewer on the national hard seltzer stage. But the company could be sharing shelf space with some other Colorado breweries soon. Industry publication "Brew Bound" reports Denver Beer Company will release Colorado Craft Hard Seltzer in June. Meanwhile Upslope Brewing out of Boulder just announced a new product called Spiked Snow Melt.