A few months ago, I devoted a column to the popularity of hard seltzers, highlighting the fact that they were a healthy, low-calorie alternative to traditional alcoholic beverages — aka, beer, wine and liquors. At the time, several hard seltzer brands dominated the market with citrus, berry and tropical fruit flavors, and my wife and I found them flavorliscious.

Being true to our love of local and craft beverages, we also sought other craft breweries’ hard seltzer, but found the flavors of some — though creatively named — disappointing.

Little did we know at that time, one of our favorite Carolina craft breweries, Catawba Brewing, was working overtime on a fresh approach to this new and trending beverage category.

Catawba Brewing’s new ‘Twisp’ on hard seltzer, inspired by popular cocktails

Sticking to the company’s craft principles, Catawba started developing its own hard seltzer products in August of 2018. The Catawba team worked diligently for more than a year, developing a unique brewing process — just like brewing beer, omitting the malt and hops, then filtering the beverage until it is crystal clear. The result is an all-natural hard seltzer that is low-carb, low-calorie and gluten-free, at 5 percent ABV.

What about the taste, you might ask? Catawba decided to mix it up a bit, “with a twist of this and whisp of that,” using flavors inspired by popular cocktails. Hence the name Twisp.

Catawba’s co-founder and co-owner Billy Pyatt was inspired to check out the beverage “everyone was carrying around in tall 12-ounce cans” last year in coastal Carolina. Even though Pyatt is a self-professed beer drinker, he found that he liked the refreshing hard seltzer from those skinny cans.

Noting that the beverage market was changing, the Pyatt family enlisted the services of Spencer Shultz, Asheville area bartender, acting president of the Asheville U.S. Bar Guild and co-owner of Bad Art Cocktail Company. The team set out to replicate popular cocktails using all natural ingredients. Catawba’s goal was to produce hard seltzers that were healthy, nutritious, ‘bubbleiscious’ — and with a little Southern charm.

After months of careful product testing, three Twisp cocktail-inspired flavors emerged:

• The Mule — Just like the Moscow Mule, it balances the alluring spice of ginger with just a twist of lime.

• The Paloma — Dry grapefruit paired with the subtle sweetness of lime.

• The Spritzer — Sweet red raspberry with just a hint of floral hibiscus.

My wife, Carol, and I sampled all three flavors of Twisp Southern Hard Seltzers in Asheville, and found them both tasty and refreshing. In fact, we came home from the Catawba South Slope tasting room with a 12-pack of Twisp for our fall and holiday enjoyment.

With the launch of Twisp, Catawba Brewing now has three distinct brands; Catawba’s line of craft beer, Palmetto Brewing’s line of brews and Twisp Southern Hard Seltzer.

Twisp is available at all Catawba Brewing and Palmetto Brewing tasting rooms, and will hit grocery stores early in 2020.

Paul Viau is an award-winning creative director, with a 30-year career in advertising and marketing. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he met his wife, Carol, when they worked for rival advertising agencies in Miami, Florida. They became permanent residents of Haywood County in 2008 and reside in Waynesville. 

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