Beverage brand Four Loko is jumping into the hard seltzer game. Its black cherry seltzer is set to launch nationwide on Nov. 6. The drink was originally due to be released next year, until a social media post about the drink went viral.
“When we first posted about it on Four Loko’s social channels, we had no idea the response would be as massive as it was,” said Jaisen Freeman, co-CEO of Phusion Projects, which owns Four Loko. Freeman says they’re releasing it early to “give customers what they want.”
“More flavor. More ABV. More value,” he added.
The seltzer joins a crowded and competitive space, dominated by brands like White Claw, Truly, and BON & VIV. While hard seltzer has been on the market for years, it exploded in 2019 as drinkers eschewed beer in favor of low-calorie drinks with roughly the same ABV (alcohol by volume).
According to IWSR US Beverage Alcohol Review (US BAR), alcohol beverage consumption in the United States declined for the third year in a row, driven by weakening beer sales. “In 2018, beer commanded 78.3% of U.S. alcohol volume, down from 78.9% in 2017,” the review said in a report. “Consumer interest in craft beer remains healthy, however, with a 2018 increase of +4.7%, and a continued rise in on-site consumption at domestic breweries.”
IWSR also found that sales in the mixed drinks category grew by 5% last year, backed by “strong gains” in the ready-to-drink cans category, like hard seltzer. In the U.S., IWSR writes, “the popularity of alcohol seltzers has been a tremendous engine for growth in the RTD market.”
Four Loko is well-known for its eponymous malt drink “Four Loko” that was infused with caffeine until roughly a decade ago, when Phusion Projects bowed to pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and removed the stimulant from the beverages after warnings from the regulator.
While the most popular spiked seltzer brands generally have anywhere between 5% and 7% in ABV (alcohol by volume), the Four Loko seltzer has a staggering 12% ABV. That’s 2% less than it was originally thought to have when the company teased the beverage on social media. The company won’t yet reveal the calorie count in its drink. Phusion also owns John Daly’s, Moskato Life, and Earthquake beverages.
Four Loko’s ABV is also much higher than that of beer, which usually clocks in between 4% and 7%. Red wine, usually contains anywhere between 12% and 15% ABV.
Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.