ALBANY — Anyone who’s watched a TV program lately whose target audience is men — like Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game, for instance — will have noticed, if he or she were paying attention at all, a considerable number of advertisements promoting alcohol-infused seltzer beverages.
That, according to the brew master at Pretoria Fields Brewery in downtown Albany, is way more than the latest niche market to pop up.
“The sale of beer in general is trending down, but the the fastest-growing category of beverage in the alcohol segment is seltzer, or hard sparkling water,” Dee Moore said Wednesday as he and his brew crew at Pretoria Fields prepared to unveil the brewery’s own entry into the seltzer market. “Seltzer has seen a dramatic, 400 percent growth over the past two years, with (Miller Brewing product) White Claw the dominant player in the market.
“Craft breweries like ours are just starting to embrace seltzer as an alternate beverage.”
Moore, who has been brewing beer for seven years and has been in Albany only a month, said seltzer has reached favored status with breweries because it provides inroads to a so far undertapped market: female beer drinkers.
“The consumption of seltzer is almost exactly opposite of the craft beer market,” he said. “Where 75 percent of craft beer is consumed by men, 75 percent of seltzer is consumed by women. I’m sure studies have been done as to the reasons, but some of the obvious things are that seltzer has a lesser alcohol content and a lower calorie count. That’s not to say men don’t count calories, too, but women seem to be much more aware.”
Pretoria Fields is not yet ready to put go whole-hog, so to speak, into seltzer production — that’s down the road — but patrons will have an opportunity to try the new drinks out at a Radium Springs Seltzer release party Friday at the brewery from 2-9 p.m. The gluten-free, 0 net carbs, 4% alcohol drinks will be available in four flavors: lime, mango, lemon and blackberry. Each 12-ounce serving, Moore said, will contain only 82 calories.
The Pretoria Fields brew master said he expects seltzer to become a more permanent part of the brewery’s offerings as early as this summer.
“With (the Pretoria Field Collective) growing its own organic fruits, that certainly could be a big factor in us creating a number of flavored seltzers,” Moore said. “With the emphasis on all-natural products, these would fit right in with what (the collective is) doing.
“The drinks are gluten-free, virtually sugar-free because all the sugar is burned off in the fermentation process, and they carry a lower calorie content. That’s the kind of product I think a lot of today’s consumers are looking for. I can see us having these available in cans as early as summer.”
The release/tasting party for Pretoria Fields’ Radium Springs Seltzer is open to the public.