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Hard Soda - The Beer Industry’s Mid Life Crisis

Chances are if you were born between 1960 and 1980 you drink or used to drink soda; but when it comes to alcohol you traded in your Captain & Coke or Vodka & enter any soda, juice, or energy drink here. We all grew up, kinda, and research and market trends show that our tastes have changed. The beer guzzling friends that would drink any brand as long as it was cheap, are now fine bourbon connoisseurs and amateur wine sommeliers. In the late 90’s and early 2000s beer companies launched hard lemonades and twisted teas to capture the dollars of soccer moms and dads who were not getting on the craft beer train. They continued targeting 30-40 somethings with flavored “ciders and ales” like Redd’s Apple or Angry Orchard, hoping to attract non-beer drinkers. If you graduated high school in the late 80’s or 90’s you probably cut your teeth on brands like ZIMA and survived Four Loko. Generation X had a strong love affair with Flavored Malt Beverages (FMBs). Breweries recognized FMBs needed a grown up make over and “Hard Soda” was born. Think about it like this, Hard Soda is like your high school sweet heart. They grew up and got their mullet cut and traded their Camaro in on a sensible SUV. They are the same on the inside, but don’t look like an asshole in 2016.

Coney Island Root Beer, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, and Best Damn Root Beer launched last summer and sold so damn well we couldn’t keep it in stock, proving that we Gen X’ers love fizzy caffeinated beverages. Even Millennials lined up, and that generation is leery of everything. Since most of these hard root beers are born from craft breweries they have street-cred, unlike their FMB counterparts. When I first sampled the new products I was taken a back about how much it tasted like good ole’ plain root beer! I think the words “this is scary” described the sugary concoction and how it masked any presence of alcohol. The average alcohol content of craft beer is 5.9 percent A.B.V., that is the same percentage in most hard root beers.

If you are not a fan of root beer, don’t fret, there are other spiked sodas for you to enjoy. Henry’s Hard Soda boasts two flavors, Ginger Ale and Orange Soda. Henry’s ad campaign targets middle aged consumers with the term “Live Hard-ish”. You are an adult; you pay taxes, you have worked hard to get that credit score so cut loose…until 8:30pm, you know you are cranky when you don’t get a solid eight hours. Henry’s Hard Soda is light and drinkable at 4.2% ABV, comparable to most light domestic beers. If you are looking for more of a kick check out Coney Island Brewing Company’s Ginger Ale at 5.6% ABV, and an Orange Cream Ale at 5% ABV. There are more flavors coming down the pipe so expect to see adult versions of all your old seltzer and soda favorites.

I like the Hard Sodas, but I liked all the Flavored Malt Beverages as well. Do you look trendier if you walk into the party with Henry’s Hard Soda instead of Mike Hard Lemonade? I don’t know, you are already cool because you are at a damn party! You are an adult and I say drink what ever you like whether it be the craftiest of craft beers or Keylight. You have earned the right to be uncool, which in my opinion, is pretty fucking cool!