The Sweet, Boozy Rise of Adult Soda

Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company

“Who loves orange soda?” Just like Keenan & Kel, when I was young, I loved orange soda. But, as I grew up, my love for the sugary, orange, cloyingly sweet, fizzy drink began to wane. But, every now and then, I craved a tall, frosty glass of orange soda to wash down a cheeseburger or slice of cheesy pizza.

I’m not the only one who longs for a simpler time. A time when I sat in my backyard swigging sugary soda in between dare-devil runs through the sprinkler and cannon balling into the pool. Clearly, a lot of people miss those days. This is evident by the recent boom of adult soda. Led by the likes of Not Your Father’s Root Beer and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, hard soda is creating a spot for itself in the highly competitive alcohol marketplace.

Also: 15 Craft Beers You Need To Try Before You Die

Consumers are looking to simplify their life from minimalist decorations at home to their bar – what they’re serving and making. “Gone are the days of confusing cocktail recipes with unique ingredients – consumers want easy and simple ways to enjoy a delicious alcoholic beverage,” says Steve Ferris, Managing Director at Halewood International (the parent company of Crabbie’s).

Crabbie’s Ginger Beer


The Crabbie’s adventure dates back to 1801 with a respected grocer merchant, Miller Crabbie. “His son, John Crabbie, developed a flair for the innovative,” says Ferris.

Capitalizing on the nearby Port of Leith gave him access to ingredients from many nations. “He sourced the finest ginger and exotic spices for his signature ‘Green Ginger Wine,’ starting a legacy that would last for generations to come.”

Crabbie’s, a Scottish company, was launched in the US for the first time in 2012. This was just at the beginning of the hard soda trend and Crabbie’s was lucky to get a foothold in the now competitive marketplace. Crabbie’s comes in multiple flavors, including: Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Crabbie’s Spiced Orange Alcoholic Ginger Beer and Crabbie’s Scottish Raspberry.

Alcoholic ginger beer is incredibly versatile. “We encourage consumers to drink Crabbie’s over ice with a slice of lemon or lime, which we’ve dubbed “The Perfect Serve,” but it’s well suited for mixing, too.”

Just because it’s a soda that already contains alcohol, that doesn’t diminish its ability to be used as a cocktail ingredient. “For example, there’s a Crabbie’s variant of Moscow Mule that people are really taking to,” says Ferris. “With Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, you can have it both ways: over ice and in a beautiful, simply made cocktail.”

Ferris believes that adult ginger beer is a good alternative to beer because it has a deep, delicious spicy flavor, one you won’t find in regular beer. Specifically speaking about Crabbie’s, it is carefully crafted from a recipe that takes its cue from John Crabbie’s ‘Green Ginger Wine,’ starting with the finest ginger, which is cold steeped for up to six weeks and then combined with exotic spices.” There’s a quality element to their history. “Our drinkers know that we’ve taken the time to get it right, rather than jumping on the hard soda bandwagon.”

Coney Island Hard Root Beer

Coney Island Brewing Company

Coney Island Brewing Company is a New York based craft beer company that’s based in, you guessed it, Coney Island. “When you think Coney Island, you think boardwalk, beach, baseball, hot dogs, and I think our brand really encompasses that,” says Coney Island Brewery Operations Manager, Chris Adams.

Coney Island Hard Root Beer is an adult twist on the old favorite. “It’s made with natural ingredients and has an ABV of 5.8%,” says Adams. “It’s available nationally in bottles and cans, as well as on tap.” Coney Island Hard Root Beer is designed to take you back to the boardwalk. “It is made with all natural, traditional root beer flavors including Madagascar vanilla, as well as notes of licorice and birch.”

Hard root beer isn’t the only adult soda made by Coney Island. “We also make a Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale, ABV 5.6 and 5.0% respectively, available in bottles nationwide.”  

Adams believes that Craft Hard Sodas have exploded over the last few years because it provides non-beer drinkers the opportunity a way to explore the craft beer world. It allows those fearful of jumping into a dizzying world of stouts and IPAs to dip their toe into the proverbial water. “Craft drinkers are looking for fun, innovative styles to share with friends and these have knocked that out of the park,” says Adams.

Even though you can buy Coney Island Brewing’s hard sodas all over the US, Adams invites consumers to come down to their brand new brewery on Surf Ave in Coney Island and try their offerings on premise. “We are open year round and will always have something that will satisfy the biggest Beer Freak to the newest craft drinker.” The brewery is currently open Thursday through Sunday. Check their website for more details.

Henry’s Hard Sodas

Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Company

I’m going to break it to you before you find out on your own. Henry’s Hard Sodas are made by MillerCoors. This doesn’t mean that you should immediately dismiss it as a possible beverage to purchase this weekend. You like Blue Moon, right? That’s also a MillerCoors product. Get over your beer snobbery and try it and make your own decision.

Henry’s Hard Soda is a new line of refreshing hard sodas in fun, familiar flavors, made with real cane sugar. “We designed Henry’s Hard Soda for consumers thirty-five plus to offer them nostalgic flavors with a kick that fits their busy lifestyle,” says Melissa Wagamon, brand manager for Henry’s Hard Soda. At this time, Henry’s Hard Soda is available in Ginger Ale and Orange flavors.

MillerCoors is always innovating and testing new flavor opportunities. “Henry’s Hard Soda offers an exciting platform and a wealth of familiar soda flavors could be in line with the overall proposition,” says Wagamon.

Wagamon believes there’s a very nostalgic reason that hard sodas have exploded in popularity in the last few years. “Hard soda is already a familiar option that many legal drinking age adults enjoy.” She adds, “We believe the category will continue to expand and has a lot of staying power as consumers desire more flavor choices.”