In a dramatic departure from its established regional craft brewing business, Wachusett Brewing Company (Westminster, MA) is moving into new beverage territory, figuratively and literally. The company has developed a healthy alternative in the hard soda category and will be launching it nationwide in April following an initial rollout in its home state, Massachusetts. The Nauti Seltzer line is the first offering from the Craft Cocktail Company (the new company that Wachusett Brewing Company launched to manage Nauti Seltzer and future non-beer beverages) and will be arriving in four flavors — Raspberry, Lemon-Lime, Grapefruit, and Cranberry — sold in both six-packs and a variety 12-pack of 12-ounce cans from CROWN Beverage Packaging North America (crowncork.com). Each 12-ounce can boasts an appealing 110 calories, five grams of carbohydrates, 5% ABV, and all natural flavor.
“We are very excited to offer the market a series of refreshing seltzer drinks created with quality ingredients added to a clear (neutral) malt base,” says Ned LaFortune, President and Co-Founder of Wachusett Brewing Company. “This stage of our evolution as a brewer has been in the works for quite some time, and while seemingly a departure, it is actually a very logical direction for us to head next.”
Before settling on the Nauti Seltzer line, Wachusett had previously explored the hard soda market by developing an alcoholic root beer. It was well received, but like others on the market contained a high sugar content. LaFortune and his colleagues felt a healthier beverage would have much wider appeal and greater sales potential, so Nauti Seltzer was born.
“Consumers are increasingly looking for adult beverages that complement their healthy lifestyles, which means that Nauti Seltzer is definitely well positioned for success,” says Ron Skotleski, Director of Marketing at CROWN Beverage Packaging. “We are very excited to be producing engaging packaging that complements the brand’s great taste experience. The new can designs have a clean airy look to them and employ subtle use of color to accent the different Nauti Seltzer flavors.”
Wachusett already has the packaging equipment and capacity for its national footprint, thanks to a 2012 acquisition of an entire high speed canning line from the Coca Cola plant in Bermuda. Ultimately, it can fill and pack 800 cans a minute, which corresponds to 4 million cases annually. Recently, Wachusett replaced its Hi-Cone line, an integrated ringer, with a 6-pack cartoner.
Nauti Seltzer will be represented by St. Killian Importing. Now that it has developed a flavorful clear malt base, Wachusett believes it has a foundation upon which to create an unlimited variety of ready-to-drink beverages. Since its launch as a beverage company in 1993, Wachusett Brewing has been on the cutting edge of the craft beer movement and to date has developed 45 different craft varietals for the North American market.