SōRSE Producers Series: Hi-Wire Brewing

hi-wire brewing logo

For the sixth post in our Producers Series, we spoke with Peter Batinski, Head of Sour and Specialty Beers at Hi-Wire Brewing, based in Asheville, North Carolina. Hi-Wire Brewing, one of SōRSE’s lighthouse customers for one of our hop-derived water-soluble products, Hop Haze, is known for creating balanced, approachable lagers and ales and utilizing the freshest of ingredients for its seasonal offerings. 

Batinksi is responsible for designing, maintaining, and packaging all sour and specialty beers as well as working with a small team of brewers on R & D initiatives. In this piece, Batinski shares a bit of Hi-Wire’s history, the challenges that come with upgrading their production facility, how the team comes up with new beer ideas or styles, and why they are using SōRSE’s Hop Haze emulsion in a few of their beers.

hi-wire brewing logo

Can you start by sharing Hi-Wire’s background and history?  

Hi-Wire opened in the summer of 2013. There were a few people in Asheville who wanted to start a new brewery, so they went ahead and purchased Craggie Brewing. Hi-Wire’s owners kept on a lot of Craggie’s employees and started making their own beer, which was much different from Craggie’s. Since then, Hi-Wire has expanded considerably. We’ve opened a number of taprooms in areas and neighborhoods that are being revitalized; we’ll be opening a ninth this coming year. We’ve had a big growth spurt over the past three years. It’s an indicator that the business model is working.  

Currently we are in the process of revamping the original Craggie Brewing facility and installing all new equipment. 

What are your company’s core values? 

One of our core values is taking great care of our employees. That has been the case since the beginning, and since then, our number of employees has grown significantly as we have expanded! 

One of our mottos is “Good Beer, Good Times.” We believe in providing a high-quality beer for our customers, but also encourage them to have a good time when they are drinking our beers! That’s where our tap rooms come into play. We have a lot of games in them, pinball machines, and soccer pool (a big pool table with soccer balls), you name it. Our taprooms are not places where you are going to just sit at the bar and stare at a TV! We want people to have fun when they are with us.  

You are in the process of rebuilding your brewing facility – what are the biggest challenges you are facing as that project moves forward? 

The biggest challenge right now is getting everything, including the old equipment, out of the facility, which includes a 30-barrel brewhouse and a tiny R&D brewery. We need to be prepped and ready for the contractors to come in to work on the space and for the new equipment to arrive. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of – from making sure the gas gets hooked up to managing when the concrete will be poured. It’s all about logistics and supply chain right now. We’re transitioning to a 15-barrel system with bigger tanks which will allow us to produce more beer more quickly. We’re hoping to put some of the old equipment on display somewhere, because it was used in Asheville’s first brewery, Highland Brewing Company. There’s a lot of history in this equipment that we want people to see and know about! 

How do you come up with new beer ideas or vet new styles? Where does the inspiration come from? 

Our brewers – and brewers in general – are in constant conversation about beers we are enjoying and why. Ideas come from those conversations or visits to other breweries to taste what they are making. For sour beers which use a lot of fruit, herbs, and different kinds of wood, I’ll read a lot of cocktail recipes and menus to get ideas for flavor combinations that I have never thought of before. Vetting new beers is definitely a collaborative effort. Once a week, we’ll get together around a table to taste the beer and discuss them. We also make a point to try someone else’s beer we have never had before. 

One beer of ours that I am really excited about is the Japanese Dry Rice lager that we just canned; it won a GABF Gold award. It was a fun beer to make because we got to work with our next-door neighbors, a sake brewery, to develop it. That is one of the more innovative beers that we’ve created. I’m also excited about an Italian-style pilsner that we made recently – it’s very tasty and drinkable.  

How did you discover SōRSE, and why did you choose SōRSE’s Hop Haze for your product? 

I knew an employee at SōRSE from when we worked at Sierra Nevada together. A few months ago, she suggested that we try Hop Haze. We tested the sample together when she was on a trip to North Carolina, and the product produces the most stable haze I’ve seen. I’m really impressed with how well it works and the ease of application. Creating a stable haze is not as easy as people think; over time, the haze will drop. SōRSE’s haze does not drop because it is so stable. We’re currently using Hop Haze in two of our IPAs and our Lemon Meringue Blond Ale 

hi-wire super haze beer

How has business been over the past two years? Did you have to do business differently because of COVID?

In the beginning we had to shutter our tap rooms, but we were still able to offer beer to go and delivery service. We had a lot of growth in supermarket sales as well. Apparently, a lot of people stayed home and drank beer!  

Where do you see your company and brand a year from now? 

We will be offering a ton more specialty cans this coming year, and higher volumes. We have a lot of fun producing our specialty beers, like the Japanese Dry Rice lager. 

What excites you most about being in brewing industry? 

What I love about my job is the constant creativity, the constant innovation. It’s why most people get into the industry — and i get to do it everyday!  

In terms of trends, I’m thinking about what’s next for IPAs and what beer drinkers will want in their next IPAs. There are so many different styles out there – and it will be interesting to see what consumers gravitate towards like they did with hazy IPAs.  

I think that this coming year the craft brewing community will continue to grow and evolve together. It’s cool to see how brewers can take a certain style and make it their own, while still supporting each other, picking each other up and pushing each other to make better beer.  

lemon meringue blonde ale sorse hop haze

SōRSE Producers Series: W*nder

wonder cbd can breakfast club

For the fifth post in our Producers Series, we spoke with beverage industry veteran, serial entrepreneur, and force of nature, Tanisha Robinson, Founder and CEO of W*nder, pronounced Wonder. W*nder is a hemp-infused, naturally flavored sparkling beverage that comes in four flavors and meant to be consumed at specific times of day. wonder cbd can breakfast club

To start your day off on the right foot with a beverage full of energizing flavors, try “Born to Run.” Need a pick-me-up in the afternoon to regain your focus? Love cucumber-flavored waters boosted with lime and mint? Reach for a “Fast Times.” 

In this piece, Robinson shares what inspired her to create a CBD-infused beverage, how the company educates consumers on CBD through the W*nder Meter, how the company supports their community through the 420 Rule, and why she chose SōRSE as W*nder’s emulsion supplier. 

 

Can you start by sharing a bit of your background with us, and what inspired you to create a cannabis-infused beverage? 

I have been a tech entrepreneur for most of my career, and then was hired to be the first CEO of BrewDog USA. I really love how much beverage brings people together and can be a part of so many key moments in a person’s life.  

I ultimately became the Chief Disruption Officer, and a big part of my role was to think about “What’s next?” in beverage. It was from that work that I arrived at the conclusion that plant-based functional beverages are a huge opportunity, with cannabis being a component of our larger strategy.  

What are your company’s mission and core values, and have they evolved since the company’s inception? 

We believe in plant-based performance, which includes cannabis, and many other great plants that can improve someone’s day. We also have the 420 Rule – we plan to reinvest 4.2% of our profits to support BIPOC entrepreneurs who have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs. 

How do you educate your consumers on CBD and how (and when) to use your beverages in their daily routine? 

The W*nder Meter and using known vitamins and adaptogens helps people understand what functional benefits they can expect. We have been very intentional from a packaging standpoint to ensure that our products are intuitive and accessible. 

We also spend a lot of time training and working with our distributors and retailers to ensure they understand what CBD is and isn’t. 

What were the most challenging parts about getting your product to market? 

The lack of clarity from the FDA allows for bad products and bad actors in the space. Clear regulation on CBD as a dietary supplement will be extremely helpful for the legitimate businesses and products to access mainstream retail channels. 

How did you find SōRSE, and why did you choose SōRSE’s emulsion solutions over other providers?

We want to have the highest quality product out there, which is why we work with best-in-class suppliers. We chose SōRSE because of their focus on consistency, science, and evolving the technology, which improves the overall function and experience of W*nder. 

wnder can fruit

Why did you choose to put “Powered by SōRSE” on your product?

It tells our consumers our product is legitimate, safe, high quality, and they’ll have a consistent experience. 

Are there any new W*nder products on the horizon you can tell us about? 

We always have projects in the works!  We’re looking forward to launching an all-day formulation next year called “Nine to Five,” and we have non-infused products which will be available in the market before the end of the year. 

What excites you most about being in this industry? What is your prediction for the cannabis-infused product space in 2022? 

It’s an exciting space, and we love hearing from our customers how much W*nder helps them get through the day. I think plant-based and cannabis beverages will continue to see massive growth in 2022. It will be interesting to see which brands really dominate in each market – we certainly think we have a good chance to be one of them.

wonder cbd beverage born to run box

SōRSE Producers Series: Lei Back

lei back cbd drinks

For the fourth post in our Producers Series, we spoke with Kirk Pearson, beverage industry veteran and co-founder of Lei Back, a tropical hemp-infused sparkling water. The company is based in Northern California, and there are two flavors on the market — Guava and Pomelo – with a third, Pineapple, coming soon! If you need a little “Aloha” and island vibe in your life, look no further than Lei Back. The tropical flavors will make you feel like you’re sitting on a warm sandy beach under a palm tree, even in the middle of winter. Here, Pearson shares what inspired him and his partner to create a CBD-infused beverage, the qualities it takes to start a company and get a beverage to market, why they chose SōRSE as their emulsion supplier, and a hint about what’s to come in 2022.  

lei back cbd drinks

Can you start by sharing a bit of your background with us, and what inspired you to create a cannabis-infused product line?  

My background is in beverage alcohol. When I was 21, I got my start in the industry when I went to the American Brewers Guild and about the science of beer production, then worked as a commercial brewer for a few years. That gave me a solid background in recipe development and packaging. Eventually I got out of production and into sales. About 7 or 8 years ago, I started my first beverage company – cocktail mixers – and then got the itch to do something else. I wanted to create something impactful, something meaningful. Being part of the cannabis/CBD industry in this early stage of infused products was exciting – because we could be on the ground floor of this, elevate the infused beverages, and bring them to mainstream society. We want to be part of an up and coming industry that helps people. 

What are your company’s mission and core values? 

 Our mission is to produce high quality natural products that the consumer can trust. We also believe in being transparent with our customers. We know that if the consumer can’t trust the companies making products in this marketplace, the category runs the risk of failing.  

How do you educate your consumers on CBD and how to use your product in their daily routine? 

It’s a little tricky right now, because until the FDA weighs in on CBD as an ingredient, we can’t talk a lot about its benefits. That said, we try to put as much information and educational points on our website as we can. It’s also important for us in a retail setting to verbalize what we believe the benefits are to a buyer – but it’s hard to say whether or not that information will be communicated to a consumer. Hopefully sooner than later, we will be able to pass our message to consumers more freely.  

lei back cbd drinks

What’s been challenging about getting your product to market? 

Before Governor Newsome signed AB 45, the bill legalizing the sale of beverages, foods, and supplements containing hemp-derived CBD in California, the greatest challenge has been distribution. Because large distributors have been wary to work with companies making CBD products, we’ve been working with smaller distributors, which means we’re not reaching as many retailers as we’d like. We’re just started getting into restaurants and bars as they are getting back on their feet and opening up. We launched in September of 2020 – right in the heart of COVID – and it was difficult to get in front of buyers and talk about why they should be carrying our drinks.  

How did you find SōRSE, and why did you choose SōRSE’s emulsion solutions over other providers?  

I was introduced to SōRSE by a competitive brand. We have been in communication with other founders and executives of CBD beverage brands since our inception. We had launched our first batch using another emulsion provider and were not satisfied with the results. I reached out to a couple of contacts who recommended a few other options, including SōRSE. I was drawn to the quality of the product and the SōRSE team. It’s been very easy working with you. I look at this relationship as a partnership – and I believe SōRSE cares about how we work together as well. From Day 1, I have felt comfortable with whomever I have talked to at the company.  

Why did you choose to put “Powered by SōRSE” on your product? 

This goes back to being transparent about our product, and being as open and honest with the consumer as we can be. The moniker “Powered by SōRSE” signals to the consumer that they are buying a high quality, safe product. And a curious consumer will potentially go to the SōRSE website and find all the valuable information that is there.

Is there a lesson you’ve learned while launching a cannabis-infused product that you’d be willing to share?  

 You have to be nimble, open-minded, and willing to change. All of this needs to be done for the betterment of your product and the betterment of the category. I’ve learned a lot from the successes and failures of the businesses I’ve been a part of, and I take those lessons with me as I move forward with this Lei Back.  

lei back drink pouring

Where do you see your company and brand a year from now? Any plans for new products/flavors in the coming months? 

We have plans for expanding the Lei Back line, in beverage and beyond.  We’re really excited about our growth, but you’ll have to wait to hear the specific details!  

SōRSE Producers Series: Altitude Beverages

altitude cbd coffee

For the third post of our Producers Series, we asked our Powered by SōRSE partners at Altitude Functional Beverages, Laura Melgarejo Silva and Thomas Angel, to share their company’s story.  

altitude cbd coffee

Their first beverage on the market, the Everything Latte, is chock full of high quality, beneficial ingredients – and just launched! The latte’s base is cold brew coffee sourced from Fair Trade beans, and it’s blended with oat milk, Turmeric, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Chaga, Cocoa, Cinnamon, Blue agave, a pinch of sea salt, and CBD to make a truly delicious, good-for-you beverage to start your morning or give you that pick-me-up you need in the afternoon. Here, they share what inspired them to create an infused functional beverage, how they came to work with SōRSE, and what excites them about the industry and where their company is headed.  

Can you start by sharing a bit of your background with us, and what inspired you to create a cannabis-infused coffee beverage? 

Prior to 2020, we had been living in Beijing for a few years for work. When the pandemic hit, Laura was able to get back to Colombia to see her family, and I joined her a few weeks later. We were there for three months – and during that time, China’s borders closed, so we were unable to return. We ended up moving back to the US in July, and as we were adjusting to life here, we were thinking a lot about our lives and what we wanted to do next.  

We had been exploring CBD and other functional ingredients and found that when we were taking them consistently, we were feeling the benefits. The hard part was being disciplined about taking them – and we really felt the difference when we stopped taking them. We knew that this was clearly a budding market, and we were thinking about what we could create that would replace the powders and tinctures we had been using. There were already a lot of infused sparkling waters on the market, so we decided to create a coffee beverage that we could incorporate to our morning routine –a beverage that tasted great and featured a lot of beneficial ingredients that are good for you and played well together. We want our beverages to be good for you and enjoyable.   

What are your company’s mission and core values? 

Our mission is to make functional beverages that are delicious and accessible. We want to dispel the myth that functional ingredients make a product taste “earthy” – that it is possible to create something tasty with the right combination of ingredients and flavors.  In terms of accessibility, a lot of functional ingredients are quite expensive – and that initial entry cost can prevent consumers from giving a product a try. We want to offer a product that is accessible to everyone – and knowing that not everyone drinks coffee, we will be expanding our line to include a Coconut Chai latte, a Matcha Pandan latte, and sparkling teas featuring adaptogens to take the place of cocktails in the evening.    

altitude cbd coffee bike shoes

How do (and how will) you educate your consumers on CBD and how to use your product in their daily routine?

We feel lucky that we have entered the marketplace in a time when consumers are pretty aware of CBD and have had some exposure to it. What we hear the most from people are comments like this: “I’ve heard CBD is good for me; I took it once, but I didn’t feel anything.” That’s when we realized that we need to educate our consumers on the idea that CBD needs to be routine-based to make it efficacious and effective. Right now, we are going to a lot of farmers markets and doing samplings at stores to have that face-to-face customer interaction we have missed for a year and a half. These moments have been impactful because it’s given us the opportunity to share our product and talk about why we created the formula the way we did.  

In terms of social media, we use our website and Instagram as our main platforms for consumer education, but we are looking at TikTok as a place to create video vignettes that would answer questions like, “What is CBD? Why is it important to use it regularly?” and “What are adaptogens? What are the benefits of taking functional mushrooms?” We feel like TikTok could be a good place for us to reach new consumers.  

What have been the most challenging parts about getting your product ready to hit the market? 

We are fortunate and lucky to have great partners like SōRSE in this adventure, and we’ve also garnered a lot of support and resources from the community here in Bend, Oregon. What’s been challenging is getting distribution with larger distributors and larger chains – it’s a very competitive marketplace. We are also funding this operation ourselves, so we are mindful about all the decisions we make and the partners we choose. We recognize that we have to work twice as hard to gain the level of access to the market that others have. We welcome those kinds of challenges, because we believe in the product we’ve created and we know the value of what we are bringing to the table.  

On a product design level, getting the balance of flavors in our beverage right has certainly been challenging. I can’t add up all the hours that we spent working on the formula while staining our kitchen counters with turmeric and cocoa powder. It definitely took a couple of months of experimenting to get the ratios right.   

How did you find SōRSE, and why did you choose SōRSE’s emulsion solutions over other providers? Why did you choose to put “Powered by SōRSE” on your product? 

Because our mission was to make functional beverages delicious and accessible, we spent a lot of time at the beginning evaluating and testing different CBD products for their flavor profile. The other thing we were evaluating was consumer confidence in our potential CBD supplier. Because we wanted to be transparent about the ingredients we were putting into our beverage, we wanted to be sure that we were using a high quality, safe product, and that the COA would verify the quality of the product. I wanted to work with a company based in the Northwest, and I found SōRSE online. I reached out and started working with the sales team, and it just clicked from the onset.  

We feel very at ease with the SōRSE team and appreciate their transparency and their willingness to collaborate. We got a sample of SōRSE and another company’s emulsion, put them in clear vials and let them sit for a week. The SōRSE emulsion was still emulsified – there was no settling, nor any off taste or smells. The other sample separated and had an odd chemical smell to it. That made the decision easy!  

That was October of 2020 – and since then, the whole SōRSE team has been invested in seeing us succeed. Now, we have close to 100 accounts, we’re in three states, we have direct to consumer business – it’s a dream that has become a reality, and the latte continues to gain traction with consumers.  

SōRSE has a team of experts who we can turn to when we have questions about regulatory, flavor – just about anything. The moniker to us represents consumer confidence, and that is incredibly important to us as we build our brand. At this juncture, to be connected to a company like SōRSE with a reputation for creating a safe, consistent product is critical. We want our consumers and retailers to trust that we have chosen the best CBD product out there that is created and constantly evaluated by a team of trained scientists.  

altitude adaptogenic coffee

Is there a lesson you’ve learned throughout the process of getting your product off the ground that you’d be willing to share? 

As a founder and a business owner, you definitely need to believe in your idea and promote it. That said, our biggest lesson learned is listening to what the consumer is saying and make changes based on their feedback. We have incorporated feedback from production run to production run because we value the comments our customers who are part of our loyal fan base have made. Their opinions are very important to us, and that is one of the reasons why we are expanding our offerings to chai and matcha. 

What excites you most about being in this industry?  

Right now, it’s great that we are operating in an industry that is not dominated by big players. That provides a unique opportunity to grow our brand and win customers utilizing the platforms that have a wide reach. It’s also exciting to be in a space where you are improving people’s lives. My favorite emails are the ones from people who have been drinking our beverage and rave about how much better they are feeling and how good it tastes.  

Making a positive impact on people’s lives is really satisfying. Our tagline is “Live like you give a damn” – instead of living day to day, we hope that our consumers are making conscientious decisions about how they can improve their lives, including eating and drinking products that are good for us and that taste good! 

altitude cbd coffee paddleboard

Why Do Most Cannabis Products Taste So Bad?

fruity drinks in mason jars

Let’s be honest. Many cannabis-infused products, both CBD and THC, taste awful. The reason why is simple: cannabinoid extracts are intensely bitter, earthy, and difficult to work with, owing respectively to the cannabinoids themselves, terpenes, flavonoids, and the complex interactions between them and other ingredients.  

When the plant material impacts the flavor profile so intensely, formulating infused foods and beverages is a huge challenge. In the past, consumers bought products for their effects, not for their taste – but now consumers are looking for great-tasting, effective products. Companies that can offer both efficacy and great taste will have an enduring market advantage. 

In most emulsified cannabinoid products, carrier oils, preservatives, and surfactants intensify the bitterness. When cannabinoids are broken down into small particles for an emulsion, that creates more surface area for the bitter compounds to interact with the taste receptors. Fortunately, SōRSE emulsion allows for masking any bitter flavors with minimal sugars and additives. 

Increasing the concentration of cannabinoids increases the bitterness, a particularly challengingissue for product formulators trying to create tasty CBD-infused products. 

WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO FIX IT? 

Options for dealing with bitterness fall into two main categories: incorporation or masking, which can be thought of as either going with the flow, or fighting it. 

Incorporating the Flavors of Cannabinoids

Incorporation means accepting the naturally bitter, complex flavor of cannabis and working with it rather than trying to hide it. It means thinking of the flavor of the extract as an ingredient in the overall sensory formulation. Generally, we experience sweet, sour, salty, and umami tastes positively; however, bitterness is a component in many pleasant tastes.  

Flavors that are naturally bitter, such as peppermint, chocolate, coffee, citrus, or beer, trick the brain into incorporating the bitterness into the familiar flavor, such that it doesn’t register as bitter, but acknowledges it as “peppermint, which is a little bitter.” 

Many cannabinoids are bitter, and customers can accept that bitterness is the cost they pay for the effect, or even celebrate and cultivate it, much as we do with caffeine or alcohol. 

The trouble with this approach is it limits flavor options. The market is laden with chocolates, sour candies, and peppermint mouth sprays. The industry needs to evolve and match the sophistication of today’s consumers with flavors that appeal to them. 

Masking the Flavors of Cannabinoids

Masking is a more traditional, low-tech option that works similarly to incorporation but has the goal of completely erasing the taste of the cannabinoids rather than complementing them. The modern version involves bitter blockers as a process aid, which interfere with the taste buds’ ability to perceive bitterness. 

Even though we can eliminate the herbaceous, bitter taste of cannabis, should we?  Some people argue that cannabis shouldn’t taste good because its bitterness will make people think of it as medicine, or that without the distinctive taste, accidental ingestion will happen. The fact is, most consumers know their limits, and are looking for other means of recreational or medicinal consumption beyond inhalation. In turn, companies have responded to the growing demand for high-quality infused food and beverages, and are creating products that taste great and deliver cannabinoids efficaciously.  

If you are a product developer who has an idea for a great infused product and would like some advice working with the flavor of cannabinoids and terpenes, our R&D team is here to help. They are well-versed in all aspects of product development, from ideation to scale, and are experts when it comes to working with the flavors that cannabinoids offer. Book a call today! 

Trends in Flavors: Consumers Seek Comfort, Novelty, & Functionality

Trends in Flavors: Consumers Seek Comfort, Novelty & Functional Health

Who drives flavor trends — chefs? Food writers? Product designers? Flavorists? The answer is the consumer. If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that the consumer is ultimately the arbiter of what flavors will be successful, what trends will become mainstays, and what trends will be short-lived. The impact of consumer preference and behavior is evident in the flavor trends we saw emerge in 2020, the trends we’ve seen in 2021, and the predictions for 2022.  

Nostalgia with a Twist

When looking at flavor trends, it’s important to consider how consumer habits have changed in the past two years due to the pandemic. There’s been a major shift in how much time we’ve spent cooking in our own kitchens versus dining out. It’s natural for people to gravitate towards flavors that are familiar to them – flavors from their childhood or from their favorite travel destination – and create an eating experience that evokes a sense of nostalgic comfort. That said, younger consumers have shown they’re not afraid to balance their comfort food with flavors that are new, exotic, or something they might experience in a foreign country.  

Food with a Function

In the wake of COVID 19, many consumers have sought out natural, holistic ways to improve their health through nutraceutical benefits, particularly in terms of boosting immunity, finding relief from stress and anxiety, and improving quality of sleep and gut health. Consumers are researching CBD and other cannabinoids, adaptogens, probiotics, prebiotics, and botanicals and are looking for products that not only provide benefits but also taste good. Most consumers would prefer to get their daily dose of functional ingredients in as few items as possible, as opposed to taking multiple pills a day. 

Consumer demand for functional ingredients impacts a product’s flavor profile. Take, for example, products built to boost immunity – they will likely feature Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Ginger, Turmeric, or Ashwagandha. Because Vitamin C occurs naturally in citrus, it is relatively easy to pair with other flavors, whereas an ingredient like Ashwagandha has a very unique flavor profile in that it is earthy and bitter, which pairs well with the flavors of nuts, chocolate, and honey.

Enthusiasm for Fermented Foods

Today’s consumers are gravitating towards natural, healthy products that are processed without little to no additives and preservatives. A food category that emerged in 2020 and gained traction in 2021 for its floral, tart, slightly sweet, and robust flavors were naturally fermented products such as drinking vinegars, kombucha, and kimchi. Today, you can purchase products such as apple cider vinegar gummies, kombucha tea, and kimchi-flavored potato chips, and even kimchi-flavored sodas. Fermented products particularly resonate with younger consumers who have been exposed to international flavors and are not afraid of new tastes and textures.

Tested, Tried, and True Flavors

There are some flavors that consumers can’t get enough of and that never seem to go out of style, like berry, citrus, apple, and mint. Most people have been consuming fruit products since they were young; hence, these flavors are familiar to us and we know what to expect from a product featuring that flavor. In the confectionary world, strawberry remains very popular with consumers worldwide. Today, we are also seeing more of these flavors combined with botanicals to give products an added level of complexity – for example, basil paired with strawberry, mint paired with cucumber, or lavender paired with lemon. In line with consumers seeking functionality, botanicals offer their own health benefits. Basil is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as Magnesium; mint offers antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and lavender has been used to treat insomnia and nausea.

Up and Coming Fruit Flavors

There is no shortage of products on store shelves featuring citrus and berry, but there are some varieties to pay attention to, including Marionberry, Huckleberry, Yuzu, Blood Orange, and Makrut Lime.   

Marionberry

Marionberries are a variety of blackberry grown mostly in Oregon; they are both sweet and tart with a rich, earthy flavor – similar to eating a raspberry and blackberry in the same bite. In terms of product development, products featuring marionberries are mostly found on the west coast, because the berry itself is too delicate to ship.  

Huckleberry

Huckleberries are smaller than blueberries and have dark purple skin when ripe. They are tarter and juicier than blueberries, which means their flavor packs a punch in food products or beverages. Huckleberries are not a domesticated fruit; they are mostly picked by foragers in the northwest, which makes them somewhat harder for a product designer to access. 

Yuzu

Hailing from China and used widely in Japan, Yuzus are about the size as a tangerine. The rind is highly aromatic and sweet with floral notes, while the juice of the fruit is extremely sour and tart. Products on the market featuring yuzu are varied, from marinades to marmalades, beers to flavored sparkling water. 

Blood Orange

A blood orange is slightly smaller than a navel orange with slightly thicker skin. What makes the blood orange unique (and subsequently products that feature its juice) is the deep red, maroon color of the interior flesh. Flavor-wise, blood orange juice is a bit sweeter and less tangy than classic orange juice.   

Makrut Lime

Makrut (aka kaffir) are in the lime family and derive from Southeast Asia; they are a staple of Thai cooking. The texture of the rind is bumpy, and when ripe, it’s yellow as opposed to green. The zest of the rind is often used in curry paste, and its leaves are added to dishes for fragrance. Makrut lime juice is quite bitter and sour, so it needs to be paired with other flavors that can stand up to it and balance it out. 

Beyond Pumpkin Spice — Fall Flavors to Savor

As summer comes to a close, as the days get shorter, and the weather starts to cool, the flavors of the season begin to shift as well. Fall flavors not only reflect what types of products are available but the season’s holidays as well.  

One fall fruit flavor that never goes out of style is apple, which is incredibly versatile in terms of what it can be paired with. It’s a terrific match for another fall favorite, cranberry. An apple’s sweetness and crispness provide a nice contrast and balance to the cranberry’s tartness and tang. Apple and another fall fruit, pear, match well with a variety of spices, such as cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and ginger, all of which offer health benefits. 

Caramel is a flavor consumers associate with childhood and Halloween – think caramel apples, caramel in candy bars, and caramel swirled into ice cream. A popular flavor today is salted caramel, where the savory and texture quality of the salt play against the sweet, sticky, chewy qualities of the caramel. 

While Chai is popular year-round, it is the perfect flavor for fall because of the warmth the aromatic spices in it evoke. Chai is comprised of cinnamon, cardamom, and clove; these spices are added to black tea and then typically blended into milk. Beyond tea-based beverages, Chai pairs well in dishes featuring winter squash-like pumpkin.  

2022 Flavor Trend Predictions

Today’s consumers continue to feel the impact of COVID, are seeking a balance between familiarity and novelty, and learning more about ingredients that improve one’s health. Product producers can anticipate that functional ingredients including CBD will be top of mind when people look for new products to add into their daily routines that not only deliver nutrition and health benefits but also taste great.  

Flavor researchers predict that in 2022, consumers will seek out spice and heat in their food and beverages (from peppers to chili to mustard), as well as notes of smoke and wood. They will also gravitate towards tropical, fruity flavors, that are paired with other functional ingredients, particularly in beverages, and seek out spirit flavors in their confections, such as a chocolate bar infused with whiskey or bourbon. 

If you have an idea for a product to bring to market in 2022 featuring functional ingredients, the team at SōRSE can help you create a flavor profile that will resonate with consumers. Book a call with our team today to get the conversation started and your product to market! 

SōRSE Producers Series: Heirloom Pet Products

heirloom pet cbd product

SōRSE Producers Series: Heirloom Pet Products

For the second post of our Producers Series, we asked our Powered by SōRSE partners at Heirloom Pet Products, CEO Jason Lysak and CMO Brandi DeLancy, to share their company’s story.   

SōRSE has been working with Heirloom Pets for two years now, and in that time, Heirloom has prioritized educating the consumers on the benefits of choosing water-soluble CBD for their animals while expanding their line of products. Their Road Trip Sticks, Food Toppers, and Bone Broth are a big hit with many pets in the SōRSE family.  

Can you start by sharing a bit of your background with us, and what inspired you to create a hemp-infused pet product line?

Having been involved in the pet food industry for a period of time, we noticed an opportunity in the market to create CBD pet products that work better. We were prompted to research the efficacy of products that were currently on the market. Pretty quickly we realized that the category was lacking a fast-acting, highly effective product line that was also affordable. Hence, Heirloom Pet Products was born!  

What are your company’s mission and core values?

The mission of Heirloom Pet Products is to deliver the most effective, healthy products based on science and efficacy. 

How do you educate pet owners on CBD and how to use your products in their pet’s daily routine?

Consumer education is one of our main focuses. Evolution in the CBD space has been slow, and because of that, people tend to stick to what they know. We have positioned ourselves not only as a source of high-quality, effective CBD products for pets, but also as an educational hub. Our social responsibility is to provide pet parents with up-to-date information and the scientific research to back it up. 

What was the most difficult part about getting your products to market?

The hurdle of marketing and education in the hemp space. CBD is very difficult to market! You can’t use food language. You can’t use medicine language. Selling someone a new product without being able to say what it is or how to use it is nearly impossible. 

How did you find SōRSE, and why did you choose SōRSE’s emulsion solutions over other providers?

From a SōRSE competitor! We were actually pointed to an article about SōRSE by the company we were considering. When I read about the efforts SōRSE had made, met the team of food scientists, and ultimately tried the product, there was no other choice! 

With SōRSE, we were not only getting the best of the best in innovative emulsion solutions, but we also entered into a partnership with a powerful team of amazing people. The emulsions we use in our pet products need to seamlessly blend and be consistent every time. We are confident that we get that with SōRSE. 

Why did you choose to put “Powered by SōRSE” on your product?

We see this as a true partnership. We believe in what SōRSE is doing and stand behind the solutions they provide. 

Is there a lesson you’ve learned while launching a hemp-infused product line that you’d be willing to share?

Educate yourself! Network, read, research, learn. The more you know about what you are doing, the easier it is to educate others. Partner with other people in the space. You never know where you will find a gem.  

Where do you see your company and brand a year from now? Any plans for new products/flavors in the coming months?

A year from now, we will still be educating pet parents on the amazing benefits of CBD and breaking down barriers that create the stigma around the category. We hope to continue adding completely unique products to our line offering diverse solutions.   

What is your prediction for the cannabis-infused pet products space, and what excites you most about being in this industry?

Being at the forefront of the next stage in the evolution of cannabis-infused pet products is really exciting in and of itself. Pet parents want these types of products for their pets, and they want to be sure they are giving them the best. We predict that this category will continue to grow and evolve and that we will be there as it does!  

Where to Purchase Heirloom Pet Products

Heirloom Pet Products can be purchased on their website https://heirloompets.com/ 

  

Beverage Producers Series: Aprch CBD

aprch cbd sparkling water

Beverage Producer Series: Aprch CBD

To kick ofour Producers Series, we asked our Powered by SōRSE partners at Aprch, a CBD-infused sparkling water company based in Portland, Oregon, to share their story. We were curious about why they decided to enter the industry, what their mission and values are, and why they chose SōRSE as their emulsion supplier. SōRSE has been working with Aprch for two years now; we can’t wait to try their new summer flavor, Coconut+Papaya, and see what their newest product offering will be this Fall, as well as Volume 2 of their Artist Series. 

Can you start by sharing a bit of Aprch’s background with us, and what inspired your team to create a hemp-infused product line?

Aprch is a collaborative effort. Our team comes from professional backgrounds in the outdoor, beverage and cannabis industries, and we all enjoy spending time outside adventuring. When we set out to create Aprch, we wanted to create a better-for-you beverage, a beverage that would help us before, during, and after our activities outside. Our CBD Sparkling Water is the first brand in the wellness beverage category we set out to create, and we have continued to innovate and grow our portfolio.  

What excites you most about being in this industry?

It’s rare that new categories come along, and the CBD beverage market is still in its infancy. Since some of the bigger beverage manufacturers are not involved yet, we are seeing a wave of small new brands. It is exciting to see the different directions the brands within the CBD beverage space are taking their product and brand marketing.   

Tell us more about Aprch. What are your company’s mission and core values, and have they evolved since the company’s inception?

Aprch is inspired by adventure, integrity, health, and the environment. We approach our lives thoughtfully, and we implement the same thoughtful process to create better-for-you beverages. We aim to nourish with every sip by creating drinks that are good for us. Since the brand’s inception, we have not strayed from our original mission and values, which are to create refreshing and delicious wellness beverages, while finding fulfillment in life.  

How do you educate your consumers on CBD and how to use your product in their daily routine?  

Since the CBD market is new to many consumers, we have taken an up-front approach and added our ABC’s of CBD to all of our 4-packs and website. This helps our customers know that when they are buying an Aprch product, they are buying the highest quality product available. A lot of people are still learning the difference between isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum, and that is a key thing we can help educate people on. We were very intentional about making a product that is high quality and accurately dosed, but not super expensive so that people could incorporate it into their daily routines, as opposed to every now and then.  

What was the most difficult part about getting your product to market?

The hardest part for us was finding a reliable CBD partner, a partner that actually knew what they were doing, had product that tested correctly, and had a background in beverages. We went through many before landing on SōRSE. 

How did you find SōRSE, and why did you choose SōRSE’s emulsion solutions over other providers?

We found SōRSE through an online search, and SōRSE’s emulsions worked. Period. We worked with SōRSE to create a proprietary and custom broad spectrum blend for Aprch; we love it because our blend tests correctly every time, it is bioavailable, works with our production, and it tastes exactly how we want it to.  

Why did you choose to put “Powered by SōRSE” on your product?

We chose to add “Powered by SōRSE” to our product to let our customers know that when they are buying an Aprch product, they are buying the highest quality product possible. The “Powered by SōRSE” badge is much like “Gore-Tex” within the outdoor industry. When you buy a product that says “Gore-Tex,” you know you are getting the best product for the elements.; When you buy a “Powered by SōRSE,” you know that the product has been vetted by SōRSE, and you are buying a premium product.  

Is there a lesson you’ve learned while launching a hemp-infused product that you’d be willing to share?

The market is still relatively small, and there is a lot of room for growth. You have to have an entrepreneurial mindset if you want to make it in this new-to-market category and be prepared for a long-term growth strategy. Also, if you’re launching a hemp-infused product, make sure it tastes great. You want to be able to have repeat customers, not just trial customers.  

Where do you see your company and brand a year from now? Any plans for new products/flavors in the coming months?

We will continue to grow our customer base through expanded distribution and will release new innovations. We recently launched Volume 1 of the Aprch Artist Series, featuring artwork by Ty Williams, and our new summer flavor, Coconut+Papaya, and will grow the series for years to come. Our first product for Aprch was our CBD Sparkling Water, and we’re looking forward to launching another new product in September of 2021. 

What is your prediction for the cannabis-infused space?  

Growth, acceptance, adoption, and continued education. It’s exciting to see where this new category will go.  

Where to Purchase Aprch

Aprch can be purchased on their website www.drinkaprch.com.  

The New Frontier of Infused Products: Powered by Custom Emulsions

Custom Emulsions Powered by SoRSE

The emergence of CBD has been a game-changer for the cannabis industry. Prior to 2018, as more states legalized medicinal and creational cannabis use, THC was the cannabinoid most consumers were familiar with. Yet when the US Farm Bill passed at the end of 2018, which made growing hemp legal, the cannabinoid CBD quickly became something that consumers were interested in, given its purported therapeutic effects. That also meant CBD became the launching platform for many product categories. In 2019, product designers were quick to develop CBD products for the marketplace like tinctures, gummies, and capsules, followed by beverages, baked goods, and confections to capitalize on consumer interest.  

In 2019 when CBD products started to emerge, the main decision a product producer had to make was whether to choose Isolate or Broad Spectrum CBD for their product, depending on the flavor profile they wanted to achieve or whether or not they wanted the consumer to benefit from the Entourage Effect. A lot has changed since then, as the opportunity to go beyond those two choices is seemingly limitless.  

2020 and Beyond: The Evolution and Expansion of Infused Products  

 The CBD-infused product market that has matured and grown rapidly in the last several years, with brands establishing themselves and gaining a good foothold in the market. In that time, consumers have also become more accepting and more knowledgeable about CBD. These informed and experienced consumers who may have tried numerous products have elevated expectations when it comes to what they purchase, and with each new product innovation, the bar is raised higher. In 2021, the CBD market is poised to evolve and differentiate itself, allowing product developers to take their brand to the next level. The next wave of products in this ever-popular, ever-expanding marketplace will feature custom emulsion blends with ingredient pairings and combinations; this movement will create differentiation in product lines. Given the number of minor cannabinoids, terpenes, adaptogens, and nootropics that could be paired with CBD, the unique combination possibilities are truly endless.  

The New Frontier: CBD + (fill in the blank)  

Now more than ever, consumers are highly focused on their wellness and are seeking out products that feature ingredients they believe have significant health benefits. Moving forward, this likely means that product developers will look to pair CBD with functional ingredients like Zinc, Vitamin C, Melatonin, L-theanine, nootropics, or adaptogens. Currently, there are a number of products on the market featuring CBD and Magnesium and L. theanine. Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for helping the body operate properly, particularly for those suffering from inflammation, as it supports muscle and nerve function. L. theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea as well as some mushrooms; people use it to improve cognitive function as well as for stress and anxiety. Product developers are also pairing CBD with secondary cannabinoids like CBN, CBC, and CBG and as well as prioritizing products that are clean label – organic, natural, and/or vegan. 

These product development decisions are typically grounded in the brand’s goals and objectives and what the path forward should be based on the customers’ needs. If more brands expand their lines in this way, the market will likely see products with increasingly unique combinations of functional ingredients created for a specific therapeutic effect. For more information on functional ingredients trends, check out our two-part blog post, “All About Adaptogens” and “Restoring Protein, Balancing Gut Health, and Boosting Immunity.” 

Your RESōRSE for the New Frontier 

As brands look to expand their offerings to include products infused with CBD and other functional ingredients, SōRSE has positioned itself to be a full solution provider, as a collaborator in the product development process, and as a solution-oriented, strategic partner. Beyond providing a delivery system for bioactive compounds including cannabinoids, terpenes, adaptogens and nootropics, our R & D team is comprised of formulation experts who are always up for a challenge. When a product developer works with SōRSE, they have the full support of the team to get the product off the ground, as well as access to our certified network of suppliers and co-manufacturers. Through each phase of the product development process – ideation, custom emulsion creation, quality assurance and testing, production planning – SōRSE is a partner and resource to its customers. Take the first step by booking a call today to tell us what you hope to achieve with your brand so we can help make your dream of a new infused product a reality.   

Powered By SōRSE Partner Spotlight: Mad Tasty

Mad Tasty Yuzu Citrus

Contrary to popular belief, being in a band is not all sunshine, roses, and adoring fans. Whether you’re a solo artist, duo or multi-piece band, it takes a lot of time, energy, creativity, and effort to make, record, perform, and market music. Someone who knows this well is Ryan Tedder, front man for the band OneRepublic. Over the course of his career, Ryan has shown the ability to capture the feelings and experiences that matter to people and put them in songs; now, he has taken those same feelings and experiences and put them into Mad Tasty, his CBD beverage brand.    

In 2018, after a few tough years on the road (in 2016, the band logged 400,000 miles) and dealing with anxiety and sleep issues, Tedder decided to start his own brand of CBD-infused sparkling water called Mad Tasty, having spent a great deal of time researching CBD and its potential health benefits. He decided to name the brand Mad Tasty because he wanted something approachable, fun, and delicious that his friends, family, and fans would love to drink. Tedder knew that it was important to hydrate over the course of the day, but he didn’t love how water tasted, so he decided to create a beverage he would want to drink that featured CBD because he liked how it made him feel. The challenge was finding the right partner to help him create flavor profiles as well as provide the emulsion that would seamlessly deliver the CBD.  

STARTING THE JOURNEY: REFINING THE CONCEPT 

The team at SōRSE started working with Tedder on Mad Tasty in the fall of 2018. Michelle Sundquist, Director of Commercialization (aka “the Jedi of flavor”), and the members of the R&D team worked hand in hand with Tedder to develop the beverages that launched in the spring of 2019. When asked to describe the experience working with Tedder from concept to commercialization, Sundquist commented, “Our initial conversations with Ryan were really focused on the kind of experience he wanted his friends and family to have. Because he was so excited to share his experience with others, he wanted to try to find a way to get the drinks to market quickly. In order to help Ryan reach his goal, we focused on ingredients and flavors that would be popular and that we knew would provide a stable flavor platform. He also wanted a beverage that was really flavorful but not loaded with calories, that you could drink a few of without feeling full. That’s how Mad Tasty as a flavored sparkling water came to be.”   

DEVELOPING FLAVOR PROFILES 

In terms of coming up with Mad Tasty’s first two flavors, Sundquist stated, “We wanted to create a clean flavor profile, so we built the beverages around our emulsion’s citrusy, slightly tangy notes. Grapefruit was the first flavor that paired really well with it. The slight bitter notes of our emulsion added to the pithy notes you find with grapefruit juice. We also really liked the sweetness and softness of watermelon; pairing watermelon with kiwi gave the drink another layer of depth and pop. We worked really closely with Ryan as we experimented with flavor and carbonation, adjusting them as needed to match the beverage he had imagined. We all wanted the consumer to open the beverage and be immediately hit with flavor and bubbles. They’d start to drink it, and it would be instantly refreshing.”  

 DETERMINING DOSING 

At the time Mad Tasty was being formulated, most producers were creating low dose beverages, in the 10 to 15 mg range. Sundquist commented, “10 mgs was pretty much the standard in 2017. We decided to bump it up to 20 mg because we wanted to make sure that Ryan’s audience was getting a good value and experience with the beverage.”  

ADDING TO THE OFFERINGS 

Two months after the initial meeting, the SōRSE team met with Tedder again to sample some prototypes and further build out the product’s story. Sundquist commented, “In late 2018, we did all the beverage design, and we had the first cans coming off the production line in mid-February of 2019. Once we got the first two flavors off the ground, we started working on the profile for Mad Tasty’s third flavor, Unicorn Tears. With that beverage, we were trying to create the feeling of something magical, given the drink’s unique name. The flavors in that are playful and tropical – it’s a base of white tea with a touch of Dragon fruit and a drop of POG, a childhood favorite. That beverage launched summer of 2020.” Tedder continues to grow Mad Tasty one product at a time; Mad Tasty launched a line of wellness shots and a new flavor, Yuzu Citrus, in Summer 2021.

REFLECTING ON THE PARTNERSHIP  

When Sundquist reflected on SōRSE’s partnership with Mad Tasty and formulating the beverages, she brought up Tedder’s commitment to creating a quality product as well as providing people with clean water around the world. “Early on we were eager to be a part of this project, because of Ryan’s goal to give back to the community and promoting access to clean water. For every 12 ounce can of Mad Tasty sold, the company donates 12 ounces of clean water to people in places in need through their partnership with Drop4Drop. That was a great reason to do everything we could to make these products successful. Being there on site, watching Mad Tasty be produced proved that our emulsion was truly easy to integrate into the production process. The experience also solidified my belief in our technology and what we are doing to move the industry forward.” 

If you are a product developer who has a great idea for infused product and needs help further developing your concept with the goal of getting your product to market efficiently, our R&D team is happy to walk through the process with you and recommend a SōRSE emulsion that best fits your needs, just as we did with Mad Tasty. Book a call with our team today!