When former ART DIRECTOR Amy Walberg couldn’t find a premium alcohol seltzer on the market, the single mom of a then baby and toddler turned her kitchen into a mixology lab, tinkering with different fruits and spices and testing flavor profiles. Out of this late-night experimentation, Pomegranate Ginger and a new woman-led company was born.
Established in 2015, PRESS Premium Alcohol Seltzer is a woman-owned brand in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Walberg says.
Although Walberg dove headfirst into bringing her “baby” to market, she notes that the first years were tough. “[W]hen hard sodas went bust, we had to push through to show distributors and retailers how we’re different,” Walberg explains. “We did a lot of grassroots tastings to get the consumers to sample, which continues to be a tactic that really drives our business.
“When people try PRESS, they get it,” she continues. “I love hearing from people who’ve tried PRESS for the first time and say they’re never going back to the other seltzer brands. I wanted to create an elevated alcohol seltzer experience and that validation is so personal and rewarding.”
Headquartered in Milwaukee, the low sugar, 110-calorie PRESS is available in four flavors: Pomegranate Ginger, Blackberry Hibiscus, Grapefruit Cardamom and Lime Lemongrass. Each all-natural flavor features a 4 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV) content, and is available in 12-ounce slim cans in single flavor six-packs as well as a variety 12-pack, which is the company’s top-selling SKU, Walberg says.
This fall, PRESS debuted its limited-edition seasonal flavor Apple Cinnamon, while Pear Chamomile was released in late spring to rave reviews.
“The reception to our rotational flavors has been incredible,” Walberg enthuses. “We’ve got some really unexpected (in a good way) flavors coming down the pike.”
The beverage entrepreneur continues to taste-test flavor options in her home kitchen as the company strives to gives consumers a premium alternative to beer and wine, she adds.
Crafting a “flavor-first” option
As a “flavor-first” brand, Walberg notes that PRESS’ operations are close to its home base because she is committed to personally testing each batch for quality. “It was always our goal to keep production in Wisconsin and support our local economy, so we were thrilled to finally find a facility that could accommodate our slim cans,” she says.
In addition to its slim matte can, PRESS is committed to “delivering an ultra-premium experience inside and out,” Walberg says. For example, the brand uses soft-touch secondary packaging while the design features an understated, sophisticated feel, she explains.
With its “flavor first” mantra, the company crafts its premium alcohol seltzer with all-natural ingredients in a unique blend of fruits and spices for a light, crisp flavor profile that then is carbon-filtered to remove gluten.
“Flavor first is all about being dedicated to delighting consumers’ palates,” Walberg explains. “PRESS has very much been a labor of love and I’m obsessed with getting it just right. When I dreamed up PRESS, I wanted something that, first and foremost, tasted great. That’s why we use all-natural ingredients so the true essence of the fruits and spices peek through the right balance of crisp seltzer bubbles.”
In less than four years, PRESS is being distributed nationally in more than 32 states and in major grocers such as Giant, Hannaford, Jewel-Osco, Smith’s, Target, Total Wine & More, Wegmans and Whole Foods Market. The brand is on track to be in all lower 48 states by the end of next year and is forecasting sales of more than 1 million cases, Walberg says.
PRESS is trending high in the beyond beer space, and is seeing double and even triple-digit growth in some markets, Walberg says.
Although hard seltzers have been popular beverage options during the summer, the change of seasons has not impacted sales for PRESS. “Last year, everyone expected sales to slow down in the colder months, but that prediction didn’t hold true,” she says. “We just came out with Apple Cinnamon for fall and the reception is incredible. We are planning for a strong fall and winter.”
PRESS also is fulfilling a need state for consumers who desire lower ABV options. “I think there’s a stigma with moms drinking, and I wanted to challenge that,” Walberg explains. “There’s nothing taboo about enjoying responsibly and PRESS isn’t designed to be hidden. I know I created PRESS to be more sessionable, which is important to me as a single parent. But I’ve learned there are a lot of people want lower alcohol content options — and they’re not just parents.
“People are drinking differently today, they want to stay in the moment and really enjoy life’s experiences,” she continues. “We love when fans of the brand tag us on social media and it’s fun to see how people are incorporating PRESS into their adventures.” BI