Gluek Brewing Co. announced today that it was named producer of the world's first hard energy malt beverage, called "Hard E," for California-based Hard E Beverage Co. The beer, which has a 5.0 percent alcohol by volume, includes ginseng extract; vitamins A, B and C; other nutrients; a clear malt base and natural citrus flavor containing imported vodka.

"The history of the beer brewing industry has always been sort of 'me too' since beers contain many of the same ingredients, but 'Hard E' opens up a totally new kind of malt beverage...something this industry has never seen," said Maurice Bryan, president of Gluek Brewing Co. "It's a whole new category for the beer industry."

Bryan also said production of "Hard E" has the potential to generate hundreds of jobs and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars statewide in related businesses such as suppliers, restaurants, packaging companies and trucking firms. Gluek, the third largest employer in Cold Spring's town of 3,003 has grown from 25 to 45 employees in the last two months and expects to double its staff by December.

Hard E Beverage Co. chose Gluek to produce the malt beverage for a variety of reasons: its 143-year tradition of brewing, its water quality, superior malt base and record for quality products. Mike Kneip, Gluek's head brewmaster, is a top award winner in national competitions, even against giants such as Budweiser, Miller and Coors.

The brewery's location was chosen 126 years ago for the crystalline granite springs that run deep below it. The springs require no filtration. "To our knowledge, Gluek Brewing Co. is the only brewery in the United States that does not have to pre-treat its water because of the water's purity," said Bryan.

Those springs are tapped continually to manufacture 47 different beers, soda and waters sold nationally and internationally. Among them are private label beverages for three of the top four grocery chains in the United States, including Kroger's, Albertson's and Safeway. Last year Gluek sold about 500,000 cases of its products. This year sales will increase to between 1.5 and 2 million cases, a 200- to 250-percent increase. Gluek recently invested $350,000 to build an 18,000-square-foot warehouse onto its 77,000-foot plant to accommodate the growth.