In Disney’s 2007 film “Meet the Robinsons,” a young orphan named Lewis begins to lose hope of being adopted, because his eccentric inventions scare off potential parents. Lewis is taken to the future in a time machine by a mysterious Wilbur Robinson, who turns out to be Lewis’ future son. In the future, grown-up Lewis is a successful inventor, whose creations have made others happy and bettered society, restoring faith in young Lewis that things will get better for him.
Much like Lewis, when creating an alternative brew, the founders of Venice, Calif.-based HOP WTR, sought to create a “better-for-you” drink for consumers to enjoy.
HOP WTR Co-founders Jordan Bass and Nick Taranto have always enjoyed celebrating achievements with “an ice cold beer after a long day.” But Bass, who also serves as the company’s CEO, says that, after some time, those cold ones didn’t fit in with their health and wellness goals.
“We noticed the full-belly, foggy-headed feeling would stick with us in the morning and felt it was holding us back from tackling the day ahead, but we didn’t want to give up on the ritual of celebrating those small moments,” Bass explains.
In 2020, Bass recalls turning the backyard into a micro-brewery and using different formulas, ingredients and flavors to achieve the desired hop flavor, while also providing hydration. After just nine months, the pair found the ideal recipe and launched HOP WTR.
“While a lot went into the creation of HOP WTR, it never once felt like work to us,” Bass says. “We feel proud of the product we created and love getting to produce new flavors to share with others.”
Paving the way for the sober curious
As the “sober curious” movement gains popularity, more and more non-alcohol options are entering the market.
Bass considers the current low and no-alcohol category to be “on fire.” With low and no-alcohol beer, wine and spirit sales at $4 billion in the United States, a 46% increase from two years ago, Bass says, he expects the category to only continue to grow.
“Younger consumers in particular have decided to go completely sober or join the ‘sober curious’ movement, meaning they have begun to re-evaluate their long-term relationships with alcohol,” Bass notes. “This is, in part, due to trends such as Sober October and Dry January, where individuals are taking part in these lifestyle changes for a short period of time, then decide to continue them as they see noticeable health benefits from reducing their drinking.
“This provides a tremendous opportunity for our brand to engage with consumers looking to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol,” Bass continues. “In recent years, hoppy water has become a category of its own. With tremendous momentum, and delicious flavors adding incrementally, HOP WTR is the leading brand within the category.”
A better-for-you brew
Aside from not containing alcohol, HOP WTR is loaded with beneficial ingredients. Each beverage is gluten free, sugar free, vegan and keto-friendly.
Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic and Azacca hops are included in the beverage, as well as mood-boosting ingredients and the daily dose of vitamin C.
“While often overshadowed by the effects of alcohol, hops have natural calming benefits that help you unwind,” Bass says. “HOP WTR also combines the benefits of hops with mood-boosting, stress-busting adaptogens and nootropics and infuses all of these good-for-you ingredients in crisp sparkling water that not only tastes good, but makes you feel good, too.”
Noting that the beauty of HOP WTR is its ability to be enjoyed at any time of day, popular flavors include Blood Orange for consumers who prefer fruiter beverages and Classic for those who enjoy a bold, hoppy taste, Bass says.
For Dry January, the company released a limited-edition Ginger Limeade beverage to appeal to consumers during a time when many choose to cut out alcohol.
“It has a nice, refreshing taste from the lime and the ginger gives it that little kick of spice; we thought it was the perfect way for consumers to get excited about Dry January and have a beverage that would satisfy their craving for a beer or a cocktail,” Bass explains. “We say it’s our version of a Moscow Mule.”
The company also launched a HOP LOCKR campaign, giving away 50 lockers to fans to lock up their booze and stick to wellness goals. In addition to the locker, winners received a month’s supply of HOP WTR “to make their Dry January easier than ever.”
“Another marketing initiative for Dry January was a limited-edition Slowtide fitness towel that was created in partnership with fitness trainer and wellness activist, Kaisa Keranen, and was sold on hopwtr.com as part of our fitness bundle — perfect for workouts and implementing a healthier overall lifestyle,” Bass says.
The bundle included a 12-pack of Blood Orange Hop WTR and a 12-pack of Peach HOP WTR — two of Keranen’s favorite flavors — as well as the highly absorbent, quick-drying and lightweight towel.
What’s next for HOP WTR
As more consumers hunt for functional beverages within the water and seltzer categories, Bass notes that hop water, as a category of its own, is gaining traction.
“As we continue to see the sober curious movement gain momentum and hoppy waters and functional beverages become more popular than ever, we’re excited to continue to provide consumers with a refreshing, ‘better-for-you,’ non-alc beverage,” he says.
The brand itself offers five flavors: Classic, Mango, Blood Orange, Lime and Peach. It can be found at retailers nationwide, including Kroger, Target and Total Wine. The beverage also can be purchased online through the company’s website, as well as on Amazon.
Bass adds that HOP WTR is set to increase their distribution footprint this year.
“We are always looking for ways to bring more offerings to our consumers and are excited to show fans what’s next for HOP WTR in 2023,” he says.