As the popularity of hard seltzers rose in recent years, St. John Brewers founders Kevin Chipman and Chirag Vyas took notice. Though the duo’s company was borne out of their passion for brewing beer, they found a similar excitement as they toyed with various hard seltzer recipes and flavors.
“The temperatures, techniques, and timing involved some of the chemistry that we enjoy, but the finished product is uniquely different,” said Vyas. “We’ve been brewing craft beer for 15 years now, so to transition to hard seltzer wasn’t that difficult. We had the equipment, we just had to get the technique and procedures down.”
The brewers worked over the summer of 2020 in their Mongoose Junction brewery to perfect their recipes.
“It presented a challenge that we like,” said Chipman. “On the brewing side, it was trying to find the right yeast, the right filtration. How good could we get at this?”
After testing numerous different hard seltzer flavors at their Mongoose brewpub, The Tap Room, Chipman and Vyas decided on the four flavor combinations they would send off to their Florida brewing partner, Brew Hub, for production. In a throwback to their first beer, Tropical Mango Pale Ale, mango mandarin was selected, along with watermelon dragonfruit, hibiscus pomegranate and passionfruit.
“It was the first commercially available mango ale in the world, so having a mango-flavored seltzer is an exciting sell,” said Vyas.
The hard seltzer line, dubbed Love City Hard Seltzer, is presented in cans with cheery, brightly colored labeling.
“Love City has such a great message to it, and the word ‘love’ alone evokes positivity,” said Vyas.
“Going into 2021, we felt this could be a bright spot for people; something they can enjoy,” added Chipman.
The seltzers are flavored all naturally, with a taste that’s subtle and not overly sweet. The clarity of the beverages is pure, reflecting Chipman and Vyas’s technical brewing skills.
“It’s kind of the opposite of the brewing we do with IPAs with multiple hops and grains and different temperature boils,” said Vyas. “This is just as complex but we’re trying to keep it as clean and crisp as possible.”
The brewing duo worked quickly to release Love City Hard Seltzers less than a year after they started experimenting with the idea, and with the help of distributor Bellows International and local businesses like Starfish Market, which is currently featuring the seltzers with a large display at the grocery store’s entrance.
St. John Brewers’ newest product is now available at most bars, restaurants, and grocery stores throughout the territory. Additional flavors like coconut, blueberry, black cherry, cucumber lime, and lemon will be available on a rotating basis on draft at The Tap Room.
“We’re excited about the support of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix,” said Vyas. “The Virgin Islands has been so good to us.”