Through the years, bottled and canned sparkling water has evolved and gone through many different trends. From seltzers to enhanced water, the industry continues to find ways to reinvent the refreshing experience of drinking water. One of the many new trends to jump into the beverage market is hop water. What is it? When was it first made? To quench your thirst for new knowledge, let’s first dive into what makes hop water unique.
A Look Back Before Looking Forward
Hop water is essentially carbonated water that’s flavored and crafted with hop plants. The female flowers of the hop plant are, of course, the primary ingredient used to brew beer, which give hop water’s buzzed but beloved uncle its distinctive bitterness and aroma while also serving as a preservative. However, hop water is a non-alcoholic beverage that lacks the carbs and calories of beer and often contains no grains during its brewing process. And because the process doesn’t usually use grains and doesn’t require removing alcohol, hop water is known to be much easier to brew and a healthier alternative to non-alcoholic beer. Among its many endearing qualities, the multifaceted hop plant is also known for having beneficial medicinal effects that help treat issues such as insomnia, nervous tension, and anxiety.
Hop water first entered into the beverage market nearly a decade ago thanks to experienced homebrewer Paul Tecker, who unveiled his clever innovation at a beer festival in 2014 under the brand name H2OPS. Since then, the beer industry’s version of sparkling water has morphed into many different forms and spawned a number of new brands, including Lagunitas’s Hoppy Refresher, a surprisingly fruity beverage that’s made with Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops and a bit of yeast; Snake River Brewing’s Snake River Seltzer, which is made with just three ingredients: water, hops, and ascorbic acid; and HOP WTR, created with bold hops and mood-boosting ingredients. It’s also worth noting that the industry has created hop waters infused with cannabis and CBD and also dreamed up hoppy alternatives such as Hop Tea and Hop Soda.
The Next Big Seltzer?
According to Nielsen, hop water sales have skyrocketed 142.5% over the last two years, going from $2.3M to $5.5M this past year. Now the fifth biggest craft-style beverage in the U.S., hop water sales have increased 43.9% over the past year despite craft beer sales being down 7.2% over that same time period.
In many ways, the growing popularity of hop water mirrors the trend toward lighter, health-conscious beverages. With that in mind, beverage developers are creating products with natural ingredients and fewer sugars. The non-ABV demographic has benefited from this trend and hop water products have helped fulfill that growing need.
However, if hop water is to continue its momentum and growing relevance in the marketplace, the Beer Branding Trends newsletter believes the beverage needs to move beyond being simply just an alternative to beer.
A big challenge as the category matures will be reaching beyond a traditional beer-drinking audience who is in search of a more wellness-focused, beer-ish option.– Beer Branding Trends
So fast forward a few years and hop water drinkers may not all be coming from the beer section to find their favorite hoppy alternative but instead will be non-alcoholic and wellness drinkers looking around for a change. And as hop water continues to evolve and introduce a new demographic to the world of sparkling water, the category is as healthy and exciting as ever.
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