Durango’s Ska Brewing Co. is branching out into a new realm, at least when it comes to distribution – sparkling water.
When Ska first moved into its current headquarters in 2008, the team was looking to have a non-alcoholic beverage around its offices, said President Dave Thibodeau. Matt Vincent, Ska’s vice president, was on a sparkling water kick at the time and started making it himself.
“‘You know,’ (Vincent) thought to himself, this is pretty silly, that I’m spending money buying this flavored sparkling water that I can actually make myself,” Thibodeau said. “So he made the first version of it. ... As soon as he made it, we were like, ‘Wow, this is great, sparkling water.’”
The Ska team put a tap in the new brewery that customers and employees could access for free in the tasting room and “Skagua” was born.
Ska’s employees talked about canning and selling the sparkling water for years, Thibodeau said. Recently, though, other breweries have begun releasing hard sparkling waters, such as White Claw.
“I think once that started to happen, we were like, ‘geez, what are we waiting for?” Thibodeau said.
Skagua will release in cans in three flavors – watermelon, grapefruit and lemon – on Friday.
All three flavors are gluten- and GMO-free. Watermelon Skagua is sugar-free and has zero calories, while grapefruit and lemon are lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar, Plant Manager Jeff Mason said.
Skagua has a very short list of ingredients, he said, and is made using the existing production infrastructure at Ska. As a result, it does not take long to make.
“We can make it one day, and then it’s carbonating overnight, and then the next day, we put it in the can,” Mason said.
The cans themselves are designed to set the sparkling water apart from the brewery’s beers, said Cara Nosek, who designs Ska’s graphics and packaging.
“We wanted a kind of fresh, refreshing look,” she said. “(The can design) emulates the bubbles and the sparkles coming up.”
Ska is distributing the sparkling water just to Southwest Colorado at first but is working on getting it to every market where its beers are sold. In Durango, Skagua will be available at Nature’s Oasis, Durango Natural Foods, Bread, PJ’s Gourmet Market, Durango Doughworks, most liquor stores and the Ska World Headquarters, Nosek said.
Unlike most seltzers being made by breweries, Skagua is non-alcoholic.
“It seems kind of cool to do a non-alcoholic one, when, you know, the rest of our craft-brewing brethren are doing hard seltzer,” Thibodeau said. “I think ... it’ll help raise the awareness that we have that option at the brewery.”
“This has been a favorite here at the brewery for over 10 years, and I think it’ll be fun for locals to finally see it on the shelves,” Nosek said. “They can bring it with them on all their adventures.”