Nick Taranto and Jordan Bass, founders of HOP WTR, join us for a chat on what sparked the creation of HOP WTR, how it differs from nonalcoholic craft beers, the challenges they faced and what’s in store for 2022.
1) How did the two of you (Jordan and Nick) meet/ become business partners?
Jordan Bass: Nick and I were introduced through a friend (Anthony), who Nick was roommates with at business school and I worked with. Anthony and I became good friends while working at The Wonderful Company. I eventually officiated Anthony’s wedding. Anthony ended up bringing together a group of 7 friends in LA. Our kids and wifes are now all friends. Nick and I met through this group and were hanging out in LA. We began discussing this hole we both saw in the market on a family camping trip in Central California. One thing led to another and HOP WTR was born.
2) The idea for Hop WTR, what was the catalyst for it?
JB: I was training for a triathlon and found I was not burning my beer gut as much as expected. When my wife got pregnant, it put a spotlight on the fact that I was the only one crushing double IPAs on the couch at night and too many lagers on the weekend. I switched to La Croix but found they didn’t fulfill that beer occasion for me and traditional non-alc beers had too many calories. Additionally, both removed the functional ingredient of alcohol that helped me unwind. When I could not find something on the market that was low calorie, had the great taste of beer and a functional benefit, I knew there was a hole in the market.
Nick Taranto: For me, Being a dad was part of the catalyst for HOP WTR. Prior to HOP WTR I found myself drinking 2-3 beers per day, and I was overweight and not setting a good example for my kids. My oldest daughter would even bring me a beer at the end of the day to help me unwind! I wanted to live up to my kids’ expectations of me, and having a beer gut and being hungover didn’t really seem to map to that!
3) How challenging was it to come up with a recipe that worked and tasted good?
JB: We specifically used Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic and Azacca hops to deliver a citrusy, piney flavor that evokes a tasty lager or IPA. We’re not pretending to be beer so we wanted to make sure that the flavor profile was refreshing, crisp and tasty – somewhere in between your go-to seltzer and favorite craft beer.
4) What would you compare HOP WTR to when talking to beer drinkers?
JB: The mission of our brand is to redefine drinking culture as a healthy way to socialize, unwind, and relax — without booze. We loved the history of hops, and wanted our brand to come out of the beer lineage, but without the gut and hangover. We built HOP WTR to be the healthy alternative to beer!
NT: It should also be noted that we aren’t “anti-beer”. We love beer! I find myself drinking about 90% less alcohol since we started HOP WTR. I still love a good cocktail, IPA, or a glass of a bold and juicy California red blend. But I drink 2-3 times per month now, instead of every day. That has translated across my life to better sleep, more energy, and higher fitness levels.
5) Why go the extra mile with the addition of adaptogens and nootropics? And what do those do?
JB: The stress-busting stack of adaptogens and nootropics in HOP WTR, including ashwagandha and L-Theanine, are specifically formulated to help you unwind and destress. We wanted to provide guilt-free, hop-filled relaxation without the alcohol, calories, carbs, gluten or sugar.
6) Why did you all decide on HOP WTR instead of a non-alcoholic brewery/beer?
NT: As Jordan said earlier, we aren’t pretending to be beer. We’re something else entirely! A crisp, light, and satisfying drink that you can enjoy guilt-free anywhere, anytime.
7) What’s next for you all in 2022?
NT: In 2022 we’ll continue pursuing our vision to reimagine the beer category with better-for-you innovation, so no one has to choose between having fun or missing out.
JB: The number one thing our consumers want is for us to be available in more places. Our consumers have bought directly from us online, but are eager for HOP WTR to be available at their favorite retailer. In 2022 we are working hard to expand with best-in-class retail partners both online and in physical retail so consumers can get our product whenever, wherever and however they want.
8) Where can folks find HOP WTR?
JB: You can find HOP WTR at HOPWTR.com and Amazon. We’re also available in retail locations like Erewhon, BevMo!, Lazy Acres and select Ralphs, Wegmans, HEB, HyVee and Total Wine locations.