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Hard seltzers push Rochester brewery to double capacity

Kinney Creek Brewery has doubled its production capacity in most part due to hard seltzer sales.

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Lindsay Abram, left, marketing specialist with Rochester-based Kinney Creek Brewery, hands a sample of hard seltzer to Hannah Kolsky, right, at Rochester on Tap at the Mayo Civic Center Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. John Molseed / Post Bulletin

Staff at Kinney Creek Brewing installed the final pieces of a new brew system over the weekend. With the new equipment in place, the brewery has doubled its capacity in two years. Driving the growth is Kinney Creek’s line of seltzers, Med City Seltzers.

“It’s making us grow really fast,” said Donovan Seitz, Kinney Creek owner and founder.

It’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

At Rochester On Tap on Saturday, sours and seltzers were the most popular choices of the hundreds in attendance.

“I’m just not a stout or IPA person,” said Christine Abel, of Rochester.

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“For me, it’s nice to have the different options, “ said Hayden Rosenblatt, also of Rochester.

Both opted for seltzers or fruited sour beers at the event.

Seltzers were the most popular pours at the Rochester On Tap event. The annual sampling event was canceled last year because of the pandemic. This year, event organizer Townsquare Media brought the event back to the Mayo Civic Center.

Hundreds of people sampled craft beers, ciders and seltzers from around the U.S., with an emphasis on Minnesota producers. Several Minnesota breweries brought kegs of their craft offerings, while event volunteers and distributors poured craft beer from producers from outside the state.

At the Civic Center, seltzers were the favorite choices at the Kinney Creek beer tent, Seitz said. At the taproom, the customer preference is about 50-50, he said.

“The seltzers always helps out with the ‘other’,” he said. “The other friend or other family member who prefers something other than beer.”

Unlike beer, seltzers and ciders are also gluten free, Seitz added.

Outside the taproom, seltzers are 90% of Kinney Creek’s sales to distributors for restaurants and retailers, he said, adding that Med City Seltzer can be found in most liquor stores within 30 miles of Rochester.

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At Little Thistle, On Tap attendees preferred a peach cobbler sour to one of the brewery’s hazy IPAs.

“A couple years ago, it would have been the reverse,” said Melissa Moore, who was pouring samples at the booth there.

According to the Beverage Information Group, U.S. alcohol consumption of hard seltzers increased by 130 million cases in 2020.

Like carbonated bubbles in a glass, trends in the beer industry are always rising and bursting.

A few years ago, hazy New England-style IPAs were the most popular brews. Those IPAs (short for India pale ale) are heavy on hop flavors and tend to be sweeter than traditional IPAs. It’s still a popular style, said Guy Grad, off-premise sales manager for Minneapolis-based Modist Brewing Co.

However, even for IPA fans, trends come and go.

“Between the hazy and drier West Coast-style IPAs, the West Coast style is starting to make a comeback,” he said.

He said the most popular pour from Modist at the On Tap event was their cherry sour, but the hazy IPA was a close second.

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“IPAs are here to stay, but the trends are always shifting,” Grad said.

KinneyCreek seltzers 01.JPG
Lindsay Abram, marketing specialist with Rochester-based Kinney Creek Brewery, hands out a sample of hard seltzer at Rochester on Tap Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. John Molseed / Post Bulletin

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