Carbliss Wants to Change the Way You Drink

September 12, 2023

MKEStartUp News reports the origin story of Carbliss as a painfully relatable one. 

It all started with calorie counting.

In 2018, Adam and Amanda Kroener went on a keto diet. They managed to cut calories and carbs from their meals but struggled when it came to happy hour. Finding an alcoholic beverage that was compatible with their nutrition plan was easy but finding one they wanted to drink seemed impossible. They were disappointed in weak flavors and strange aftertaste that plagued each canned beverage they popped open.

Every popular option they tried left them longing for more, so they started concocting keto-friendly cocktails in their home. The cocktails were a big hit with their friends. They were so good the couple decided to share their creations with drinkers looking for flavor without a lot of calories, carbs and sugar. After a great deal of kitchen table planning, the Kroeners launched their own canned cocktail line, Carbliss.

The product name is a play on what the Sheboygan County couple is offering. The ready-to-drink cocktail is a 100-calorie beverage free of carbohydrates, sugar, and gluten. According to the Kroeners, the promised “bliss” comes from the superior flavor of the 5% ABV canned drink. The company chose to create the drink with lower carbonation levels to allow the ingredients of their unique cocktail recipes to shine.

Fans of the fast-growing canned cocktail include waistline watchers, drinkers avoiding gluten and diabetics- as well as people who just enjoy a good drink. Against the odds, the plucky Wisconsin startup is making its mark in an industry where it is competing against multi-billion-dollar corporations like Molson Coors and Boston Beer that have popular products in the hard seltzer market.

“Adam’s really the driver in the entrepreneurial spirit,” Amanda said. “He said, ‘I’m going to put this in a can.’ And the rest is history.”

After Adam’s declaration, the couple had a number of discussions and then created a business plan.

“I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ And so from there, it’s just kind of been a snowball ever since,” Amanda said. “But it was like ‘What do we have to lose?’ We both have a lot of experience working in different areas of the business, but we kind of cover all spectrums. We love growing smaller businesses and helping other businesses grow. It was a perfect fit.”

Carbliss is counting on drinkers being as disappointed in the taste of hard seltzers and other canned cocktails as they were. The company sees its advantage as having a product with superior flavor, but that is not the only thing driving its growth.

In a crowded market, Carbliss differentiates itself by the relationships it builds with its drinkers and distributors. The beverage is widely available in six markets and the company plans to launch in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan in the coming months. The company has employees in each of its markets to ensure Carbliss is part of the community where it is selling its product. This grassroots effort extends to its marketing plan, which leans heavily on letting people try the product themselves by distributing samples at markets, grocery stores and just about everywhere else they can legally distribute alcohol samples.

The strategy seems to be working. The company has seen astonishing growth since its first retail sale in 2019. Its tremendous early success allowed the Kroeners to be selective about how the company would grow. Carbliss turned down a number of offers by investors in its first two years before bringing on an equity investor in 2021. The increase in capital, along with the hiring of beverage industry veteran Michael Dempsey as the Vice President of Business Development, and additional staff has allowed the company to keep pace with the growing demand for Carbliss.

Originally written: Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller | March 23, 2022 | MKE StartUp News