After considering a Smooj-esque fruited seltzer, a ready-to-drink cocktail-inspired seltzer, and a hard lemonade, Pittsburgh’s Cinderlands Beer scrapped all three in favor of a hard tea.
Launched in April, Cindi’s Hard Mountain Tea checked a lot of boxes for the brewery. It expanded Cinderlands into flavored malt beverages (FMBs), which the company believes will help it reach new, non-beer-drinking audiences. Hard tea also is a product that seems to resonate with Pittsburgh and broader Pennsylvania, where dairy companies have for decades produced teas under brands including Turner’s and Schneider’s.
Beginning last fall, Cinderlands experimented with brewing the hard tea itself. However, the team quickly realized that making a noncarbonated, back-sweetened tea at scale would have required capital investments that were hard to justify without proof of concept for the product.
Enter copacking. Like contract brewers, copackers are manufacturing facilities that produce and package beverages for other companies. Some copackers are also contract breweries, but “copacker” generally denotes the ability to produce beverages other than beer.