With summer 2022’s brutal and historic heat waves wreaking havoc nationwide, cold beer and hard seltzers continue to fly off retailers’ shelves. “Beer and hard seltzer sales are up this summer,” says Andrew Mendez, vice president of operations at the three-unit convenience store chain Mendez Fuel in Miami. “I’m constantly filling up the shelves.”
The Mendez Fuel located at 3201 Coral Way offers fully stocked coolers of ice cold beer and 15 microbrews on tap to fill growlers and crowlers. “Overall, I move more beer than anything else,” Mendez says. “Top sellers are Jupiter, Florida-based Civil Society Fresh IPA ($12 a 32-ounce crowler or growler, or $20 a four-pack of 16 ounce cans), Miami-based Tripping Animals Brewing Co.’s Ever Haze IPA ($21 a four-pack of 16-ounce cans), and No Mames ($12 a four-pack of 16-ounce cans). Corona is also a big seller in whatever size is available ($23.29 a 12-pack and $13.49 a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles).”
Four packs, six packs, and 12 packs are moving, but large, single-serve packages, such as 16-ounce, 19.2-ounce or 24-ounce cans or bottles of beer and hard seltzer are in extremely high demand. If a popular brand is unavailable in the large format, another brand will be stocked in its place. “Now there seems to be a shortage on every type of product from one week to another. I haven’t seen a Heineken 24-ounce can ($4) in almost a month,” Mendez says. “I started bringing the larger size formats of White Claw ($4 a 24-ounce can) to that section. It has really blown up. I carry as many SKUs of that as I can.”
As the number of hard seltzer brands proliferates, Mendez notes the category is approaching oversaturation. “Every social media influencer now has a hard seltzer/spritz drink,” he says. White Claw and Truly are Mendez’s top-selling hard seltzers. “White Claw ($21 a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans) and Truly ($23 a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans) run the hard seltzer game,” he says. “Happy Dad 12-pack ($22) hard seltzer also does really well.”
At Hi-Lo Liquor Mart’s three locations in the Los Angeles area, supply issues remain for some imports, but locally produced microbrews are meeting high demand. “Single beers, four-packs, and six-packs have been moving tremendously,” says Hi-Lo beer program manager Chase Dipple.
Big single-serve sellers include Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Hazy Little Thing ($3.50 a 19.2 ounce can) and locally produced Jiant Strawberry Kiwi Hard Tea ($4 a 19.2-ounce can). Offshoot Beer Co.’s Relax (It’s Just A Hazy IPA) is a leading brand in the four-pack of 16-ounce can format ($15), and top-selling six-packs of 12-ounce cans include Bear Republic Brewing Co.’s Racer 5 IPA ($15) and Calidad Beer’s Classic Mexican-style brew ($15). “We are moving a lot of high-quality micro craft beers across all packaging formats,” Dipple says.
Top-selling hard seltzers at Hi-Lo are Topo Chico ($23.50 a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans) and Untitled Art’s Florida Seltzer ($40 a 12-pack). Hard seltzer sales are steady and could increase share with the growing popularity of regional brands like Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Smooj Hard Smoothies ($20.50 a four-pack of 12-ounce cans) and San Diego-based Ashland Hard Seltzer ($12 a six-pack of 12-ounce cans).
While the proliferation of hard seltzer brands may be approaching over-saturation, there appears to be room for new microbrews to emerge. “Micro beers will continue to grow because brewers are creatively expanding techniques and using new and exciting hops,” Dipple says. “New small malt producing companies are coming out, and there are still a lot of variations brewers can produce.”