Fizz Fight: The world’s first hard seltzer fest is going down in Denver and tickets are already selling out
"This blew up so quickly..."
The idea for a hard seltzer festival only really occurred to Jake Browne and Sam Taylor in early August — a mere three weeks ago.
Now, they’ve got a national Fizz Fight tour planned that’s starting in Denver and is going to take them around the country: to LA, Tucson, New Orleans, Atlanta, Miami, Myrtle Beach, Chicago, Madison and maybe even Vancouver. They’ve got 28 different hard seltzer companies on board, and the Denver event, the kickoff Fizz Fight festival, is already looking like it’s going to sell out.
“I could see this being like a full year of my life.” Says Browne, considering the future of Fizz Fight.
“I'm down,” says Taylor, chuckling.
Sam Taylor, Fizz Fight founder, lookin' fly with some of the seltzer's you can expect to see at the festival. Photo courtesy of Fizz Fight.
I met them at Tacos Tequila Whisky on 32nd in Denver to talk hard seltzer over margaritas. Well, technically, they were drinking ‘tequila sodas, simple, tall with a little bit of lime juice.’ I was drinking a marg. Which felt kind of fickle, being so deep in conversation about hard seltzer.
“I took a month off drinking beer and kind of got sick of tequila all the time,” Browne explains, stirring his tequila drink. “Like, that's just not sustainable.”
So Browne and Taylor (who are, notably, partners in both business and life) started experimenting with spiked seltzers together. Not only did the two realize that they actually really liked them; not only did they realize that they were a healthier option than beer, but they realized too, how many different kinds there were.
“I was like, ‘Holy shit there are so many of these on the market that no one knows about!’” Browne says.
That’s where it all began. The seeds were planted. The flame was lit. They started looking into who made hard seltzer, how many different brands, flavors and styles were out there, and if those businesses might be interested in getting together for a little Fizz Fight action.
“We just had to cap entries today,” Browne says happily. “I think we're on a waitlist now. There's like twenty-eight.”
That’s 28 different seltzer makers who will be at Fizz Fight pouring fizz for their thirsty patrons.
“I want people to be able to try more of them. The average 12-pack is like 14-16 bucks,” says Browne. “And if you don't like them then then you're just going to have a bunch of crappy Lacroix to go through.”
Browne and Taylor only really reached out to a couple of these hard seltzer companies before things started picking up speed. Some of the bigger distributors like Coors and Anhauser-Busch, contacted them with all of the hard/spiked seltzer brands they own and told them that they wanted in. And Browne adds that more than 10 hard seltzer companies and brewers reached out to them on their own to get involved.
All Browne and Taylor really had to do, was get the word out there, suggest the idea and position themselves to pull it off. The People’s new-found fondness for hard seltzer did the rest.
But it wasn’t just the seltzer side of Fizz Fight that took off like a rocket. Browne and Taylor tell me they’ve already sold 25-percent of the tickets. People are signing up in droves, and knowing Colorado, there’s going to be a huge wave of late-purchases.
“Everything about what we have done so far tells me that we're going to sell every last fucking ticket,” says Browne.
Which, Taylor agrees is a big relief. “It's really nice we have like a quarter of the tickets sold already with three weeks left.”
And it isn’t just bros signing up, either (as all those White Claw meme’s might have you believe). Not by a long shot, they tell me. Something like 75-percent of the people who have bought tickets so far are women, 21-35-years-old — ladies who want to drink like they’re at a beer festival, without the calories that come with that.
Photo courtesy of Fizz Fight.
That’s one of the biggest draws behind the rise of hard seltzer: people want to slam refreshing drinks, that won’t soften up that summer bod. They want to drink guilt-free, without worrying about how long it’s going to take to work off all those beer-calories. And beyond that, even, it’s an appealing drink for people who are gluten sensitive/intolerant.
It’s a health-conscious alcoholic beverage. One, that people are quickly growing attached to and gaining an interest in.
“That's the other thing that we get to cultivate is getting this next generation of hard seltzer enthusiasts and brewers talking with each other,” Browne says. “There will be a whole generation of people that will geek out on this stuff.”
And hopefully, they’re geeking out at Fizz Fight, talking about brewing methods, which kind of champagne yeast was used in what seltzer, discussing the finer points of the brewing process and describing the flavor profiles of different seltzers in big flowery words.
But, mostly, people are probably just going to be slamming those 2-ounce pours like they’re going out of style.
It’s going to be a fun time, no doubt. There will be over 70 different seltzers to taste, there will be a host of local food trucks and a bunch of different local artists vending their wares.
“We’ve had multiple people comment, ‘Ahh, man I wish my wedding wasn't that day.’” Taylor tells me, laughing.
It’s the beginning of a new era of craft alcohol, and this Fizz Fight festival might be its kickoff party. Hard seltzer is quickly becoming a staple style of beverage with its own not-so-cult following.
People like the stuff. And Browne and Taylor have tapped into that, they had their fingers on the pulse of people’s drinking habits, and now they’re about to cash in on this freak explosion of seltzer enthusiasts. They’re about to throw the world’s first ever hard seltzer festival, and with three weeks left before the event, they’re already hopeful that it’s going to sell out, no problem.
The event will be held at the EXDO Event Center on September 14th. Tickets are still available online (for now) – general admission is $33.45 and VIP passes (which get you early access and some sweet schwag bags) are $54.66.
Get ‘em while they’re hot, because they might not be around for a lot longer.