The “hard seltzer” market has exploded in the past few years. According to Forbes, hard seltzers could generate $30 billion US worth of sales worldwide by the year 2025. If you had $30 billion, you could buy the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, and still have $17-$18 billion left over to buy a country or two.
By now, White Claw has become as ubiquitous as most major beer brands.
And a husband-and-wife team in Edmonton are looking to get a very, very, very tiny piece of that pie. Nicole Bablitz-Parker and her husband, Scott, have created the Wheat Pool Soda Co., which is making vodka sodas with a uniquely Albertan bent.
“We’re not trying to compete with White Claw and the other big guys,” says Nicole. “We’re trying to create something that is small-batch and local.”
Edmonton’s Lone Pine Distilling provides the vodka for the raspberry flavour, which has just been released, and is available on tap at O’Byrne’s and Situation Brewing. It can also be found at The Next Act Pub, in cans. As well, cases have just been shipped to AGLC, so they should be available in liquor stores, soon.
Nicole says the idea is to present tastes that are special to Albertans. Next up will be saskatoon, cucumber and farmers’ market peach flavours.
“It’s about what it’s like to be in Alberta, from camping trips to helping grandma in the garden,” says Nicole. “It’s about those great memories.”
Like many people, Nicole and Scott both found themselves going a bit stir crazy during the pandemic, so they started experimenting with making vodka. Scott works in the oilfield and Nicole is the founder of Athlete’s Choice Massage. Nicole says that, as an entrepreneur, the need to be starting something, didn’t go away. And they reached out to local distillers, including Lone Pine and Strathcona Spirits, for advice.
“It’s a great community,” says Nicole. “So many people were very helpful.”
And, so, Wheat Pool Soda Co. was born.
The cans also celebrate this province. The designs come from Edmonton-based multimedia artist Joze Olvera, and each flavour will celebrate a different part of the province. The raspberry cans feature art of Rowley, Alta. — and scanning the code on a can will take the drinker to a story about that famous ghost town.
Look for the saskatoon cans to feature Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, and the cucumber cans to carry images of Amber Valley, while the farmers’ market peach cans will celebrate, you know, farmers’ markets.