High Octane NA’s, Alcopops on Display at NBWA



The 72nd biennial tradeshow for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) took place from September 22 – 25, 2009 in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. There were over 250 exhibitors at the event showcasing their products and services, including more than 40 non-alcoholic beverage companies, all of whom were excited to get their brands in front of the 3,700+ attendees. While that might seem counterintuitive, with exclusive lockups easing off, independent beer distributors and wholesalers are increasingly looking to “NAs” when it comes to providing new revenue streams and continue to be important links between retailers as well as potential on-premise accounts.

Liquid Ice Energy Drink, BevNET’s official show coverage sponsor, was one example, as the folks manning its booth kept busy chatting with potential buyers and mixing up energy cocktails. The first day’s overall show traffic was steady, while the second day seemed to tail off a bit in the early afternoon – perhaps attendees were ready to roll out from Vegas. One concern that seemed be reiterated by some exhibitors was the general flow of foot traffic during the two days. Since the show was on two floors, potential buyers came in spurts as they navigated the three convention halls – this seemed to be more prevalent though only on the second day.

Overall, however, there was definitely a positive vibe at the show: Exhibitors were upbeat given the economic climate and looked forward to the upcoming months. Perhaps some of the enthusiasm could be attributed to prodigious sampling of the hundreds of beers, ciders, and malternatives to sample ranging from domestic to import to small craft specialties. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, here are some of the brands we sampled/viewed:

-Activate Drinks is a new beverage employing a propriety twist cap that stores vitamins and electrolytes to prevent their deterioration in water. Sweetened with Stevia and containing five calories, the brand comes in two 16 oz. lines: Core and Workout. Flavors are Vitamin/Fruit Punch, Immunity/Orange, Antioxident/Berry, Energy/Lemon Lime, Workout/Grape, Workout/Passion Fruit, Workout/Lime, and Workout/Grapefruit.

-Arctic Ice is a 16 oz. premium energy drink formulated with pure cane sugar and available in six flavors including Original, Sugar Free, Razzberry, Citrus, Punch, and Lemonade.

-Charge Beverages has two new lines of energy malternatives. Core High Gravity is a blend of taurine, caffeine, guarana, ginseng, and/or Wormwood Oil with an ABV of 11-12 percent in 24 oz. cans. Flavors are Orange HG, Punch, Grape OG, Green HG, and El Jefe Grape in 32 oz. The second malt beverage is Axis, which blends in wormwood oil with an ABV of 12 percent. Available in 16 oz. cans current flavors are Grape and Punch.

-Double D Beverage launched Beaver Soda in 12 oz. sleek cans. The all-natural soda is available in Canadian Cola, Rodeo Rootbeer, and Orange Cream. The company also recently launched Beaver Buzz Energy Shot – Core in a flask-shaped bottle and will be coming out with a line of Good 4U functionals early 2010.

-Ex Drinks has reformulated and repackaged their line of RTD beverages including Ex Chill, Ex Pure Energy and Ex Slim Energy in 8.4 oz. cans. Look for more offerings in the upcoming months.

-Innovative Beverage Products has a new line of energy shots with targeted heath benefits in 4 oz. bottles. Current flavors include Wolfberry Cola (Men’s Edge), Pineapple Colada (Brain Refresh), and Blueberry Pomegranate (Sustained Energy) and do not contain artificial colors or flavors. The company also launched a line of 15 calorie non-alcoholic sparkling juice cocktails. Flavors are Apple Lemon Orange Mint, Golden Grape, and Blueberry Watermelon.

-Jakk’d, a new caffeine-infused RTD grain alcoholic beverage debuted at the show. The product is sweetened with pure cane sugar and blended with vitamins. Available in 375ml aluminum bottles in four flavors (Lunatic Lemon, Black Tea Lemon Honey, Punched Out Pomegranate Berry, and Raging Orange). The product is pending approval by the TTB and thus not yet on the market.

-Jones Soda is launching Zilch in October – a zero calorie soda sweetened with Splenda and fortified with Vitamin C. It will be available in Pomegranate, Vanilla Bean, and Black Cherry.

-Killer Buzz energy drink is currently available in original and sugar free in 8 oz. and 16 oz. cans.

-Neuro Fuel is a new mood-enhancement beverage in a 12 oz. sleek can.

-New York Springs added VBee! to their portfolio; it’s a kids’ version of VBlast! with added calcium and Vitamin D, while still utilizing the same twist cap as its older sibling. Flavors are Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, and Watermelon in 8 oz. bottles.

-Ol’ Glory Energy Drink is a $0.99 16 oz. value energy drink that has been test marketed for over a year in Oklahoma City in 7-Eleven with plans for expansion. A sugar-free version is also in the pipeline.

-Resurrection, a new 8.4 oz. anti-hangover pre-tox drink and combines a proprietary herbal blend of vitamins and antioxidants.

-Spider Energy Drink blends taurine, caffeine and herbal extracts with L-Carnatine and L-Glutamine and seeks to be a strong aggressive brand with a tag line of “Get Bit, Stay Lit!”

-TeaZazz recently launched White Tea Orange/Mango and White Tea/Kiwi Strawberry in their 20 oz. bottles.

-Vacation in a Bottle (ViB) is now available in 12 oz. aluminum bottles, including the newest flavor, Mango Lime.