Los Angeles, CA: It is not news that the hard seltzer category is on fire, nor that many major beverage brands are adding their logo to a version of the same liquid that made the category explode two years ago. Conversely, Tolago – which has broad and deep roots in The Golden State – is “building from within our communities’ culture,” explains Tolago Hard Seltzer CEO, Nicholas Greeninger. “We took a page out of the hard kombucha playbook when creating the product by using the highest quality, real ingredients,” he says. “To us, every 50-year-old corporate beverage logo on a hard seltzer can is lazy and a bit opportunistic. Until now, not one hard seltzer brand had listened to consumers to push the category in the right direction.”
Tolago is based on all-natural ingredients, including ethically sourced fresh fruit juices, purées, and natural botanicals from Southern California, as well as fair-trade certified 100% organic agave nectar from Mexico. Clean of chemical taste, gluten-free, and 5% ABV, the flavors include Ginger Pear, Guava Mango, Cherry Rose, and Agave Lime. Available only in fully-recyclable printed standard cans from Ball, the seltzers are premium priced and come in 6- and 12-can cartons, with SRPs of $12.99 and $24.99, respectively.
The entire founding group grew up in California and the business is headquartered in Los Angeles. All founders surf regularly and have a strong commitment to sustainability, thus the fully recyclable, 100% plastic-free packaging and alignment with 1% For the Planet.
LA-based co-founder and fine artist Matt McCormick, who developed the packaging, draws inspiration from the gritty reality of downtown LA, as well as the homestead towns, gold rush bonanzas, and 1920s Hollywood glamour that captivate popular imagination. Tolago Board members include Circe Wallace, EVP at Wasserman, and Henny Yegezu, co-CEO and founder of EQT (Equative Thinking), an LA-based music label and management company. The collective of 32 owner advocates behind the brand include LA-based photographer Sandy Kim; Ventura-based pro-skateboarder Curren Caples; and two-time Olympian and X Games Gold Medalist, Encinitas-based snowboarder Elena Hight.
Greeninger, the former branding and marketing power behind Saint Archer Brewing Company, which was acquired by MillerCoors, is the bridge from lifestyle to beverage. Other beverage sales and distribution experts include Doug Gudmundson (36 years in beer, most recently with Karl Strauss Brewing Company); Jason Schwenck (13 years with Red Bull America, and 12 years building numerous successful startup beverage companies); and Matthew Mitchell (25 years in wine & spirits, most recently with Jackson Family Wine Company).
In California, Tolago Hard Seltzer will be distributed by Young’s Market and reach retail shelves late September. Initial retail response has been positive – with particular enthusiasm for the better-for-you brand proposition, industry veterans, and high-profile advocates – and pre-orders from chain and independent accounts are underway. Tolago will also be sold via Amazon.com, Drizly, Postmates, Uber Eats, and Cloud retail.
The brand’s robust marketing campaign includes in-store retail programming, point of sale materials, digital and out-of-home advertising, as well as an annual commitment to 1% for the Planet. Bryan Boeck, Senior Vice President of Young’s Market, enthuses: “We can’t wait to launch Tolago. The hard seltzer category is on fire, and we want only the best for our book of business. We don’t see many wine and spirits distributors going into the category, which excites us.” The Tolago executive team is in talks with other select distributors nationwide.
“Tolago is the only drink I keep at my house AND the studio. It’s a secret weapon for a pool day or late night recording. I never get caught without a case!” says co-owner and music producer Kenny Beats. Greeninger concludes: “When others settled, we simply would not. Taking real ingredients to create a better-tasting, better-for-you hard seltzer captures the spirit of this business and all those involved.”