Sugar and poor ingredients have turned soda into a four-letter-word, according to beverage innovator Ben Weiss. He’s looking to change that.
Weiss’s Hamilton-based hard seltzer brand Crook & Marker is launching a zero-sugar line of hard sodas in classic cola, lemon lime, ginger ale and root beer flavors.
Soda’s bad rap isn’t “because anyone ever fell out of love with the taste of soda,” Weiss said. “When other alcohol companies tried hard sodas, they didn’t bother fixing the ingredients, which is why consumers never held on. Imagine dumping 15 packets of sugar into your drink, which is what some of those brands are doing,” Weiss said.
Crook & Marker won’t have any artificial sweeteners, he said. The company’s proprietary organic BaseBrew alcohol is made from ingredients such as quinoa, millet, amaranth and cassava root. The sodas are caffeine-free and sweetened from natural sources.
Each can has 4 percent alcohol by volume and 80 calories.
The company’s spiked seltzer line launched with eight fruity flavors in March and in September won the people’s choice award in the nation’s first hard seltzer competition, Fizz Fight, in Denver, beating out better-known brands like White Claw and Truly.
“We see today’s consumers, particularly millennials who are now all of legal drinking age, reject sugar, carbs and ultimately calories, but still demand great flavor and enjoyment. We believe hard seltzers were just the first stop in their pursuit for a better way to drink,” Weiss said in a statement.
He previously founded Bai Antioxidant Beverages in 2009, which was acquired for $1.7 billion by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in 2017.
Crook & Marker spiked sodas will be sold in single-flavor four-packs at retailers, bars and restaurants nationwide. Select regional roll-outs begin this month, with a national launch expected early next year.