Josh Landan and Celebrity Investors Launch Ashland Hard Seltzer Brand in California

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Saint Archer co-founder Josh Landan is launching a new hard seltzer brand today in California.

Ashland Hard Seltzer is Landan’s play into the more than $2.5 billion hard seltzer segment. The Ashland brand will launch in more than 250 points of distribution, including national chain commitments from major big box and grocery retailers such as Costco, Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Kroger, BevMo, Total Wine and Bristol Farms/Lazy Acres.

“Retailers are really excited about it,” said Landan, who co-founded Saint Archer in 2013 and sold the San Diego craft brewery to MillerCoors in September 2015. “I’ve never seen a category do what hard seltzer [has].”

Over the last year, Landan admitted he and his wife and friends have gotten swept up in the hard seltzer trend and that led him to creating his own brand.

“I’m 40 now and I have three kids — 12, 9 and 5 — and the days of me drinking multiple IPAs after work are long gone,” he said. “This is what my wife and I and my friends have gravitated toward, drinking the hard seltzers because you can still have fun and have a couple of drinks and not really feel it in the morning”

Landan, who holds a majority stake in the new business, has tapped 30 celebrities, actors, athletes, models, influencers, designers, and musicians as equity investors in the venture. Among them is action sports star Paul Rodriguez, with whom Landan co-founded the Saint Archer brand.

“I’ve been able to pull together a lot of our friends from all kinds of different walks of life,” Landan said. “Country singers and athletes and actors and everybody in between coming together.

“We own the brand together,” he added.

Those investors include:

  • Alana Blanchard, pro surfer and model,
  • Ali Grant, founder of San Diego-based PR agency Be Social,
  • Bri Emery, lifestyle blogger,
  • Adee Drexler, founder and CEO of Infinity Creative Agency,
  • Ella Rose, model,
  • Teressa Foglia, hat maker and digital consultant,
  • Kristen Forgione, creator and principal designer of design firm The LifeStyled Co.,
  • Alden Steimle, model,
  • Carissa Stanton, food blogger at Brocc Your Body,
  • Halley Elefante, Instagram influencer,
  • Andrea Van De Vort, fashion boutique owner,
  • Heather McMahan, comedian,
  • Lauryn Evarts Bosstick, founder and blogger of The Skinny Confidential,
  • Lauren Lane, actress,
  • Rowan Zorilla, pro skateboarder,
  • Chris Lane, country music singer and songwriter,
  • Sean Malto, pro skateboarder,
  • Paul Rodriguez, action sports star,
  • Atiba Jefferson, photographer and skateboarder,
  • Eric Koston, pro skateboarder,
  • Taylor Knox, pro surfer,
  • Jack Freestone, pro surfer,
  • Blake Anderson, actor and comedian,
  • Adam Devine, actor and comedian,
  • Dixie Rose, country musician,
  • Jeremy McGrath, motocross/supercross champion,
  • Lacey Baker, pro skateboarder,
  • Na-Kel Smith, fashion designer,
  • Kevin Bradley, pro skateboarder,
  • Sage Elsesser, rapper

A deck for the Ashland brand touts those investors’ combined 150 million social media followers.

Ashland joins an increasingly crowded hard seltzer segment that includes market leaders White Claw and Truly Hard Seltzer; new launches from large beer manufacturers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Light Seltzer and Constellation Brands’ Corona Seltzer; established craft offerings, such as CANarchy’s Wild Basin; and new craft launches, including Avery Brewing Company’s Sparkle.

Ashland is the latest brand in Landan’s growing portfolio, which includes the Harland Brewing Co. beer brand, Claxton Cellars wine label, Villager non-alcoholic coconut water brand and Little Villager organic juice line for children. According to Landan, the Ashland brand is the most gender neutral beverage brand that he has ever launched, and it plays as a California lifestyle brand.

“That’s what I’m into,” he said of creating lifestyle brands. “It’s fun for me to build these brands with my friends and promote them. … It’s really just creating brands in the moment of what we’re into. This is what we’re all drinking, so I created one.”

Ashland is being contract produced at Mission Brewery in San Diego. Landan told Brewbound that the company could produce between 10,000 and 15,000 barrels in its first year with sales in just California.

According to Landan, with 22 million people in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, the brand has a ton of potential customers.

“There’s so much business that you can do in California, it’s like, if you have the ability to stay in California and create a sustainable business that’s doing well, there’s no reason to leave,” he said.

Ashland checks in at 5% ABV and 99 calories and contains no sugar or carbs. The brand is gluten free and brewed with alkaline water, which is called out on the packaging.

Ashland will be available in four flavors: Lime, Tangerine, Pineapple and Blackberry Lemonade. Each flavor will be sold in 6-packs of 12 oz. traditional cans, as well as a mixed 12-pack and a Costco exclusive 24-pack. Ashland is also launching a 16 oz. single-serve can of its Tangerine, Pineapple and Blackberry Lemonade flavors for the convenience channel.

In addition to can packages, Ashland will be offering its Tangerine, Pineapple and Blackberry Lemonade flavors in kegs, in an attempt to capture on-premise business.

Ashland’s launch comes a little more than a year after Landan launched the Harland Brewing Co., in San Diego with former Saint Archer VP Jeff Hansson and ex-market manager Anthony Levas. It also follows the October 2018 launch of Scout Distribution, a craft-focused beer and wine wholesaler, in San Diego.

Ashland will operate as a separate business, with eight employees, Landan said. Ashland’s sales team includes:

  • VP of sales Mike Laguardia, the former vice president of sales operations and strategy at Ballast Point,
  • Director of sales Dan Burns, the former regional sales director for the west at Avery Brewing Company,
  • National accounts manager Laura Selecky, the former vice president of sales for hard kombucha brand Juneshine,
  • Regional sales manager Kelly Tidwell, ex-Ballast Point on-premise manager.

Ashland will be distributed from Orange County south in California through Scout, which is launching in Orange County in February. Pacific Beverage will distribute the brand in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Landan said the company is still figuring out its distribution in the Los Angeles market.

Future plans include launching speciality releases, including collaborations, Landan said.

“We’re treating this like a craft brewery,” he added. “So we’ll be doing a bunch of one-offs and exciting things, collaborations with a variety of different people and brands that I think will be really exciting in 2020.”

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