Despite an inherent kinship, hard seltzer — 2019's hottest beverage — is different than beer. Both drinks are carbonated and have similar ABVs, but beer's taste primarily comes from fermented malts and hops. Hard seltzer, instead, is typically fermented sugar water with added fruit flavors. But don't remind Anheuser-Busch all of this, apparently. Last month, the brewing giant launched two hard seltzer versions of its popular low-cost beer brand Natural Light — this despite the fact that AB InBev already owns America's third best-selling hard seltzer brand, Bon & Viv. Now, news has leaked that AB is also looking to wrap the hard seltzer trend around America's top-selling beer — resulting in a Bud Light hard seltzer.
A forthcoming Bud Light Seltzer was teased during a distributors' meeting in St. Louis — specifically, a black cherry version — according to the trade publication Beer Marketer's Insights as reported on by Ad Age. Though Anheuser-Busch didn't openly confirm that a hard seltzer version of Bud Light was on the way, the company didn't come close to denying it either. “We have the industry's leading portfolio because we are never satisfied,” a spokesperson told the site. “We regularly share conceptual ideas with our wholesaler partners as we develop new ways to meet consumer needs. Details on new product launches will be shared in due course.”
Adding to the intrigue, the meeting also reportedly included another beer-branded hard seltzer and further Bud Light products. Apparently, Stella Artois may also be getting a hard seltzer iteration. Meanwhile, Bud Light is said to also be adding Bud Light Lemonade (ostensibly similar to other fruity takes on Bud Light) and Bud Light Crisp, an ever lower-calorie version of Bud Light.
But the new hard seltzers are clearly the biggest news — not only because they jump on the trending hard seltzer bandwagon, but also because they further blur the line between beer and hard seltzer in general. In fact, it would seem that Anheuser-Busch is banking on that fact. Bud Light alone has about 14 percent of the entire beer market — a sizeable amount for such a huge industry. Meanwhile, the top two hard seltzer brands — White Claw and Truly — have close to 90 percent of the hard seltzer market, according to the Daily Beast. So Anheuser-Busch's own Bon & Viv is on the outside looking in. Certainly, tying your hard seltzer sales to one of the biggest beer brands on Earth is one way to try to crash that party. Though at some point, you have to wonder if Anheuser-Busch is undermining the identity of some of its most popular beers in the process.