Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Take On Big Seltzer With Carbliss

September 11, 2023

As featured in Forbes, Adam and Amanda Kroener talk about redefining the hard seltzer category. “We’re on a mission to go bar to bar, backyard to backyard, and consumer to consumer to convince people to give Carbliss a try,” says Adam.

Carbliss is a ready-to-drink, low ABV canned vodka cocktail, available in black raspberry, cranberry, lemonade and lemon lime flavors, and it made its debut in Madison, WI in 2019. The idea for their canned cocktail – which is only 100 calories a can and 5 percent ABV – came when they were visiting friends in Elkhart Lake, WI, and they tried a hard seltzer at their friends’ urging. 

“Frankly, we weren’t impressed with the taste, and we had just begun a low carb, low calorie diet, and we wanted an enjoyable drink that aligned with our diet,” Amanda says. “We decided to experiment at home with vodka and different flavors, and we found the perfect combination of health and flavor. Carbliss was born.” 

In their two-year journey, Carbliss now is distributed to retailers in eight states besides Wisconsin – Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Tennessee, and the main way they promote their drink is through tasting and sampling events. 

“At a recent Milwaukee stop of Seltzerland, which is a national touring competition and sampling event, attendees rated Carbliss as the best canned cocktail, and it was also rated as the top on-site experience at the Milwaukee event,” Adam says, adding that they were going up against some of the biggest brands in the industry. 

The name Carbliss, he says, not only refers to the freedom from guilt being associate when drinking the beverage, but “it subtly hints to the importance carbonation plays in our flavor profile.” 

“For us, it all goes back to flavor and taste,” says Amanda. “Along with being zero sugar, zero carbs and gluten-free, one of our key, competitive advantages is our lower carbonation. Having less bubbles was a strategic decision, and it helps us pack more flavor into each and ever can.” 

When Carbliss first debuted on shelves in 2019, it sold out. “Our best sampling event to date was on March 19, 2021 at Plymouth’s Piggly Wiggly,” Adam says. “We had an offer, if people purchased four 4-packs, they would receive a set of free Carbliss-branded glass. We had people drive from more than 50 miles for the event, and in two hours, we sold 144 4-packs.” 

“Six days later, Amanda gave birth to the newest addition to our family,” he adds. 

Keto followers, gluten-free adherents and calorie counters are some of their targeted consumers. “But the one thing we never anticipated was the absolute love of Carbliss from those who have diabetes,” Amanda says. “In Wisconsin, we have a lot of Harley fans. While doing an on-premise, sampling event, I had a guy with a Harley jacket, huge beard, six feet four inches or so give me a giant bear hug in the middle of the bar because we created something he could drink that ‘actually tastes good.’” 

Their newest flavor, passionfruit, is just hitting retail shelves, and later this year, Carbliss will have e-commerce offerings that will expand its availability to the rest of the United States. Since Carbliss is literally a mom and pop company, the husband and wife duo wear many hats. “Being entrepreneurs means doing it all and making it happen with whatever it takes,” Amanda says. 

Their children also have gotten involved in the business, as their 15-year-old daughter created the original can design, and their 3-year-old’s favorite weekend activity is helping them “count the cans, name the colors and flavors, and restocking our fridge so that the labels face perfectly to the front,” Amanda says. 

Originally written: Jeannette Hurt | August 1, 2021 | Forbes