It’s safe to say that modern-day drinking habits are a far cry from those of yesteryear. Hard seltzer is the new lite beer, cocktails come in cans, and whiskey is having a moment. But as consumer preferences evolve, another trend is gaining traction: non-alcoholic beverage consumption.
With careers in the beverage industry spanning more than 10 years under familiar brands like Pabst Brewing Co. and White Claw, Anthony Spina and Matt Sievers saw this shift as an opportunity to develop a new product suited for “everyone and every occasion.” They launched Milwaukee-based PRIMER electrolyte-charged hard seltzers as the category’s first brand to offer a selection of three alcohol by volume (ABV) levels in one package. Each nine-pack of PRIMER contains three 12-ounce cans at 0% ABV, 5% ABV and 8% ABV.
January 2021: Co-founders Spina and Sievers had seen the rise of hard seltzers, led by brands like White Claw and Truly. But they noticed that as other brands followed, there wasn’t much differentiation across the board. The duo wanted to bring something new to the market based on how consumer tastes were shifting, and the concept and name behind PRIMER was born.
February 2021: Under the guidance of Randy Hughes, former brewmaster at La Crosse-based City Brewing, potential flavors were narrowed down to the category’s top sellers: black cherry and mango. The team later ran its first test brew and began workshopping the formula.
April 2021: After receiving positive feedback on samples given out to friends, family and bars, the team conducted more testing, specifically on the three-ABV system. “Momentum was building, and we knew we had something,” said Sievers.
Summer to fall 2021: PRIMER’s formula was adjusted for flavor continuity among the three ABVs. The team got to work on crafting its brand vision, 2022 sales forecast, package design and go-to-market strategy. Then came two more pilot brews, a website launch and a write-up in Forbes, followed by sampling at retailers and bar-restaurants.
March 2022: You can find PRIMER at local retailers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.