- The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is launching a new line of beers made with "a splash of seltzer," called Leinenkugel's Spritzen. Spritzen is the brewer's first new national release in three years.
- The beers have no sugar, no artificial ingredients and 93 calories each, which the company says is less than leading hard seltzers. The drink will come in three flavors: Grapefruit, Raspberry Lemon and Pineapple Strawberry.
- The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is a part of Molson Coors' Tenth and Blake craft division, which also includes Atwater Brewery, Saint Archer Brewing and Revolver Brewing.
As more brewers expand their portfolios with trendy drinks, Leinenkugel's is flipping the switch on the standard hard seltzer.
The company said the new line will start appearing on store shelves this week with a "beer-forward taste with the clean finish and subtle fruit flavors of a seltzer." This beer-based seltzer will likely fit in with Leinenkugel's portfolio of shandy brews, which includes its popular Summer Shandy, a beer with a little lemonade.
Hard seltzer is booming as the rest of the alcohol industry struggles to retain younger consumers. Since White Claw, which is owned by Mark Anthony Brands, debuted in 2016 with five fruit flavors, hard seltzers have taken off. Some analysts anticipate its sales to jump 270% this year. The growth of these trendy drinks are threatening the dominance of legacy alcohol and beer brands, pushing them to develop more ready-to-drink beverages, as well as low- and no-alcohol drinks. The spiked seltzer category specifically has seen exponential growth in the last year as more companies, from Constellation Brands to AB InBev, launch new drinks.
AB InBev introduced Natural Light Seltzer last summer and followed that up with the launch of its Bud Light Seltzer this year. Constellation Brands is rolling out a Corona-branded hard seltzer, and MillerCoors said it would launch its vitamin C-enhanced hard seltzer brand Vizzy this month.
"There are plenty of beers on the market and a variety of seltzers entering the category, but nobody is offering the best of both worlds except us," Katie Leinenkugel, Leinenkugel's brand strategy and engagement lead, said in a release.
Since the beverage is mostly beer and only some hard seltzer, that could help it stand out. Leinenkugel's will also create marketing campaigns for Spritzen across TV, digital, social media, retail and radio, the company said. Leinenkugel's also said consumers could see their "favorite influencers" giving Spritzen a taste on their channels or attending a launch party. This marketing strategy could help the new brand since younger generations are the target audience for hard seltzers. White Claw is especially popular among millennials on social media, who pose with the beverage in pictures and use the widely popular phrase "Ain't no laws when you're drinking Claws."
As a part of Molson Coors' Tenth and Blake craft division, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company could have an advantage. Even though Molson Coors is focusing on consolidation as of late, it has the resources to help a brand like Spritzen scale up. Molson Coors has been overhauling its portfolio to reflect the consumer shift away from its classic brews toward spirits, craft beers or ready-to-drink products like hard seltzer.
Where Spritzen may struggle is that its primary flavor is beer, which has fallen out of taste in recent years. Beer volume in the U.S. has dropped annually in recent years.