Hard seltzer may have started as a punchline controlled by two corporate behemoths, but these days, it feels like just about every craft brewery is jumping on this boozy bandwagon. With so many seltzers flooding the market, newcomers are searching for ways to distinguish themselves. The latest entry into the fray comes from Schlafly in St. Louis and it’s a far cry from your standard White Claw. Boomerang, which launches this Friday, is billing itself as the first mead-spritzer.
“There are so many hard seltzers that are just flavored water and alcohol, but we thought we could take it a step further and stay true to our roots of doing traditional style,” says Jared Williamson, lead brewer at Schlafly. “That’s when we landed on the idea of using mead as a base. Mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages in human history.”
Mead also made sense with the brewery’s history. When Schlafly first opened, it operated under a winery license, which led to the brewers tinkering with all sorts of mead and cider. The brewers spent seven months adjusting recipe before settling on a formula that consists of water, honey, and natural citrus flavors.
Mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages in human history.”
“I took some of these trials to neighborhood barbecues and house parties. We wanted to get a wide variety of feedback and get out of our internal brewery echo chamber,” Williamson says. “There was a 5K where we were giving these out at the end and people were just crushing them.”
At the end of the day, mead hard seltzer may not appeal to every palate, but it’s a welcome craft alternative to the two macro brands that currently control 85 percent of the market. And while actual mead tends to be on the sweeter, stronger side, Boomerang has virtually no residual sugars and a modest ABV of 4%. With 90 calories per can and zero gluten, it taps into the current market for lower-calorie beers.
“The White Claws and the Truly's and stuff are these big national brands. When Schafly started in St Louis, there were no other craft breweries here. This was an Anheuser-Busch town. We thought there would be a consumer base out there for a more locally and artisanally produced beer and we believed the same for hard spritzers.”