Central Standard Craft Distillery releases first hard water beverage

Central Standard Craft Distillery, established five years ago, released Hard2O in Wisconsin Monday, the first vodka water of its kind in a growing and trending alcoholic seltzer market.

Central Standard co-founders Evan Hughes and Pat McQuillan got the idea for H2O as they began trying the many new products in the seltzer market. They tasted some good products, but didn’t like the carbonation approach. Instead, they sought to create a distilled water.

“There were a lot of hurdles that came up just in the R&D process that we had not anticipated,” Hughes said.

According to Hughes, anything below 12.5% alcohol-by-volume can face microbiological issues.

Hughes and McQuillan where able to “crack the code,” as Hughes put it and developed the first ever true vodka based-hard water on the market that they know of.

Popular seltzer drinks, Hughes said, are clear-malt based or wine-based.

“That’s why we can achieve lower caloric amounts and have zero-sugar, zero-carbs is that our base is truly a vodka base,” Hughes said.

H2O contains just 40 calories in 12-fluid ounces and sits at 5% alcohol-by-volume. The newly released drink currently comes in four flavors of berry, mango, citrus and dragon fruit-pear and is packaged in recyclable material.

Central Standard Craft Distillery created this new low-calorie beverage with a focus on active Americans.

“What we tried to make with Hard2O is a lifestyle brand that is very on-the-go,” Hughes said. “One thing that was important to us is we really wanted to achieve nutritional benefits that would help us position ourselves in the market.”

H2O is available in grocery and liquor stores in Wisconsin.

Along with sales in Wisconsin, Central Standard Craft Distillery launched a targeted campaign with billboards in St. Louis and Newark, New Jersey. The billboards read, “Work with eight Clydesdale and a dalmation? Email us. tryit@hard2o.com” and “Your boss never has to know. Email us. tryit@hard2o.com,” according to the company press release.

They also participated in a social media-focused campaign, inviting anyone with the names Michael, Michelle or Mickey to email the distillery at tryit@hard20.com for a first test of the drink.

H20 is slated to go national in 2020. The company is currently in the process of selecting the national distributor. Hughes expects a decision by the end of the year.

Margaret Naczek, Milwaukee Business Journal

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: