Hop water, the sparkling drink that falls somewhere between a non-alcohol beer and a seltzer, is something of an industry oddball. While it’s made a bang as yet another NA option to sip on, it hasn’t been wholly embraced as a brewer go-to: Out of the almost 10,000 breweries in the U.S., only 27 were producing hop water by the end of 2023. Just last week, Dave Infante’s “Hop Take” column made a plea to the American brewing community to start brewing more of it. While more hop water options would certainly make Dave happy, is it what the drinking community at large truly needs?
Well, that’s yet to be seen. Sure, “brewing” hop water is a less expensive undertaking than cranking out decent NA beer, but some feel that its flavor is too similar to flavored seltzer to fit into anyone’s portfolio. And while hop water’s average price point makes it a lot more profitable than flavored seltzer, that’s a double-edged sword, as it’s much harder to justify the craft-league prices that hop water tends to command.
On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” Joanna and Zach discuss the growing prominence of hop water in the NA drinks space. What kind of drinker are these products aimed at, are they hoppy enough for beer lovers, and is their steep price point a barrier to further growth? Our hosts also taste one of the most widely distributed versions, the Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher, and share their thoughts. Tune in for more.
Zach is reading: At the World’s Leading Bars, There Are No Bars
Joanna is reading: Meet Heisler, TV’s Favorite Beer That Doesn’t Even Exist