Four Loko to drop its new hard seltzer this week

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.”

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Hard seltzer craze in the U.S.
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Hard seltzer craze in the U.S.
Cartons of White Claw, a flavored alcoholic fizz in a can are on display at the Round The Clock Deli September 11, 2019 in New York City. - Health-conscious American millennials have found their drink of choice: alcoholic carbonated water that is lower in calories and carbs than beer and wine. A hard seltzer craze is sweeping the United States as Generation Y and Generation Z pursue healthier lifestyles, influenced by viral trends on Instagram and YouTube. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13: A view of Truly: Hard Seltzer products during the Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Culinary Demonstrations at The IKEA Kitchen presented by Capital One at Pier 94 on October 13, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 14: Guests try the new Smirnoff Seltzer Raspberry Rosè at Fizz Fight Festival at EXDO Event Center on September 14, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Tom Cooper/Getty Images for Smirnoff Seltzer)
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 14: Guests pose with giant Smirnoff Seltzer Pina Colada can at Fizz Fight Festival at EXDO Event Center on September 14, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Tom Cooper/Getty Images for Smirnoff Seltzer)
Cartons of White Claw, a flavored alcoholic fizz in a can are on display at the Round The Clock Deli September 11, 2019 in New York City. - Health-conscious American millennials have found their drink of choice: alcoholic carbonated water that is lower in calories and carbs than beer and wine. A hard seltzer craze is sweeping the United States as Generation Y and Generation Z pursue healthier lifestyles, influenced by viral trends on Instagram and YouTube. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
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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.

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