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Hard Seltzer is Here

DC Brau Enters the Market with Full Transparency

A handful of local breweries have dabbled in the hard seltzer market, experimenting with the brewing process. There’s one on tap at Denizens right now. But no area brewery has gone all-in on this growing sector of the alcoholic beverage market — until now.

DC Brau is releasing four hard seltzers under the "Full Transparency" brand - passionfruit orange guava, raspberry limeade, black cherry, and mango.
Remember, there ain’t no jury when you’re drinking Fully.

On Saturday, November 16th, DC Brau will release four hard seltzers, in cans, under the “Full Transparency” brand. The flavors are Mango, Black Cherry, Raspberry Limeade, and a blend of Passionfruit, Orange and Guava (POG), and will be available in 6-packs and mixed 12-packs at the brewery with wider distribution coming soon. DC Brau notes that each can is just 100 calories with less than one gram of sugar and 5% alcohol-by-volume, with a price point of $9.99 per 6-pack and $18.99 per mixed 12.

This move is the second savvy business decision by DC Brau this year; they began 2019 by phasing out their Belgian-style pale ale The Citizen as a flagship in favor of Joint Resolution, a hazy India Pale Ale. Now they’re first to market with a local hard seltzer.

“Much like the early years of the craft beer movement here in the District, we saw a hole on the shelves for a locally-brewed seltzer, and are excited to be the first to put our stamp on this fast-growing market here in the National Capital Region and beyond,” says DC Brau CEO & Co-Founder Brandon Skall. ”It is not very often that we get to be a part of a brand new beverage category as it emerges in our industry.”

There is a lot of money in hard seltzer at the moment. Per Good Beer Hunting’s Bryan Roth “White Claw and Truly seltzers sold the equivalent of 1.4 million cases during this year’s July 4 week (which equates to roughly 102,000 barrels’ worth of product). That’s almost half of what was sold in the entire month of June. (That combined production was roughly the same as the 29th-biggest craft brewery in the country last year, Rhinegeist Brewery.)”

It makes sense for area breweries to capitalize on this buzz and demand, especially as hard seltzer sales cut into those of beer. So if you are going to cry “Sellout!” at DC Brau’s foray into this market, then yes, that is the point. Beer remains a business, and there are certainly people who are going to choose a hard seltzer over a DC Brau Pils next summer. It may as well be a DC Brau seltzer.

No Hard Seltzer bias?

In a phone interview with Skall, we asked him about any stigmas associated with an independent brewery making hard seltzer, noting that “DC Brau” does not appear on the front of the can, though it does appear in smaller print on the side. He said that the Brau team wanted the identity of this product to stand alone, and that stigmas in the alcohol industry tend to fade away.

Brau was one of the earlier craft breweries to can, for example, something that may have hindered the brewery when trying to sell beer to higher-end accounts such as white-tablecloth restaurants. Skall is also a veteran of the wine industry and saw the bias against screw-top wine bottles come to an end.

The DC Brau team spent more than six months doing taste tests of other hard seltzer brands and running trial-and-error pilot brewing. Brewmaster and President Jeff Hancock notes that the fermentation time takes slightly longer than an ale but not as long as a lager; a gluten-free sugar base is briefly boiled, pH adjusted, cooled down, and then sent off to fermentation.

So, see you in line on Saturday for DC’s first hard seltzer? Or, there ain’t no judiciary when you’re drinking Transparency.

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