Sparkle Party

A few of the hard seltzer from California Seltzer Co.

At first the trend was slow – a White Claw here or there where there would’ve once been Miller Lite. Then it came on strong, with hard seltzer everywhere, along with non-alcoholic sparkling water in a ton of flavors.

Turns out, people like bubbles. “Bubbles make you happy,” says Veronica Camp, a partner in California Seltzer Co., which was founded in Lodi in 2020 and will open a tap room in Pacific Grove come February. “Everyone is looking for something to make them happy right now. It adds a little pep in your step.”

Before getting into the seltzer-making business, Camp produced beer festivals and events (with another form of bubbles). She’d seen seltzers edging in on the market, thanks to consumer interest for a few reasons: it’s gluten-free, it’s lower in calories than beer and it has that je ne sais quoi – what she calls “pep in your step” or what business partner Charlie Lippert calls “a clean, crisp product.”

Hard seltzer is produced using a fermentation process similar to beer, and both boozy and non-alcoholic versions go through an extensive filtration process. It’s sugar-free but has the same zesty feel as soda, offering a guilt-free substitution for a beverage category that is literally killing us, while also (bonus!) helping us stay hydrated.

Anecdotal data from entrepreneurs like Camp is backed up by studies, like an April report by Grand View Research which found that the sparkling water market was valued at $29.7 billion in 2020, and “is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 12.6 percent from 2021 to 2028.”

That’s a lot of sparkle.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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