Local Hard Seltzer Brewed Right Here in Austin
Blue Norther offers a canned cold front
Named for the fast-moving cold front known to whip through Texas, Blue Norther – a new line of hard seltzers brewed right here in Southeast Austin and created by local father-son and ranching team Austin T. and Austin M. Pittman, is built to withstand the current climate. But going from the ranch to this new venture doesn't necessarily mean trading in boots ("and even the occasional 'aloha' shirt") for suits again.
"I'm so proud and excited to bring Blue Norther to the people of my home state, especially doing so alongside my oldest son," said Austin T. (the dad). "Our fantastic bold flavors are ready-made for the bold people who call Texas home."
Founded in 2019, the seltzer is inspired by Texas fruits and gluten-free, made with real fruit juice and organic agave. Available in two flavors, wild blackberry and agave lime, Blue Norther is available at retail locations including H-E-B, Bread Basket, Royal Blue Grocery, and Wheatsville Food Co-op (plus online markets), with more flavors and retail locations around the bend. Unlike the artificial sweeteners found in similar products, the organic agave is used not only for its great flavor but because the Pittmans "trust what comes out of the ground. We commonly hear a complaint about the 'artificial flavor' or 'chemical-y' taste in other hard seltzers."
Austin T. combines 25 years of experience in executive leadership in the health care industry with the knowledge his son, Austin M., brings to the table through years of consulting, software, sales, and interestingly, marine biology. (The company is owned and operated by the Pittmans along with a small group of investors, Blue Partners.) The pair of Texas gents relish that country life, and while working their family ranch in Harwood, Texas, they discovered a need for a more flavorful, more refreshing seltzer after a long day in the heat.
Bridging the gap from idea to product, despite not previously existing in the drinks space and going up against some big brands, has required lots of time, hard work, "and a little luck!" Pittman says. "In all honesty, it required baby steps, and help from our friends and partners as we tried to answer the question, 'How do you actually make a [great-tasting] drink?' Ultimately, we were introduced to a food scientist, who taught us about how the system works, and how to produce and scale a formula commercially."
And as for that elusive brewing formula, he says, "The process is similar to brewing beer, but instead of beer, we make sugar brew from cane sugar. Unlike the malt-based brews used in a few other drinks in the category, a pure sugar brew is a clean fermentation that results in a flavor-neutral alcohol with no aftertaste. It's a great pair for the natural juice and organic agave that make our drink shine."
It's a strange and difficult time to operate a business, but the Blue Norther guys are leaning on the Austin community's word-of-mouth marketing as product sampling has gone by the wayside in the wake of pandemic restrictions. "We've had to pivot, persevere, and change just like everyone else. It's hard, but there's a silver lining, too."
Ultimately, the guys aim to get their tasty beverage into the hands of anyone who's curious for a local alternative to those well-known names in the seltzer sphere. "Blue Norther is a brand born in the spirit of Austin – it's about weirdness, individuality, and being yourself. If you like something, you say it and do it. The best advice we've received in this business is to treat people the right way, and to always ask for help. So please, Austin, help us! Ask around, try Blue Norther for yourself (we know you'll love it) and tell your friends!"