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The Boston Beer Co. has announced the latest raft of changes to its Truly roster in a bid to revamp the fortunes of the ailing hard seltzer brand.

Ahead of its full-year results on Wednesday (15 February), the Massachusetts-headquartered brewer and distiller said Truly would undergo a brand and pack refresh to better communicate the hard seltzer’s taste profile and “real juice” content.

Packs will include “now more refreshing” and “made with real fruit juice” callouts, Boston Beer Co. said.

As part of the revamp, Truly will focus on its core lightly flavoured fruit variants, with a rotating trimester of seasonals replacing Truly Iced Tea, which has been discontinued.

The decision to retire the Truly Iced Tea brand was made to “simplify the portfolio for wholesalers and retailers,” the brewer said.

Truly Vodka Seltzer will also be rebranded as Truly Vodka Soda, with the Samuel Adams brand owner seeking to respond to waning interest in hard seltzer, and consumers’ continued preference for spirits-based RTDs. A new twelve-pack featuring new flavours of Truly Vodka Soda will roll out this April.

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“Truly helped establish hard seltzer as we know it today, but we recognize the segment is evolving for the drinker of tomorrow, “ said Boston Beer Company CEO Dave Burwick. “As hard seltzer enters the post-hype era, we are strategically investing in new marketing and packaging to keep Truly top of mind and remind drinkers why they came to the category in the first place.”

The refreshed range will roll out across the US this spring, alongside extensive consumer sampling and media advertising to emphasize Truly’s revamped flavour profile, Boston Beer Co. said.  

Later on Wednesday (15 February), The Boston Beer Co.’s full-year results revealed total depletions had decreased by 5% on its fiscal-21, with increases in its Twisted Tea and Hard Mountain Dew brands being more than offset by decreases on Truly, Angry Orchard, Dogfish Head, and Samuel Adams.

In a note to investors, analysts at AllianceBerstein cast doubt on whether the refresh would transform the fortunes of the Truly brand, which has suffered from declining sales and is losing market share to hard seltzer rival White Claw.

“This is not the first time that Boston Beer has spoken about making changes to Truly in an attempt to improve performance,” the note, authored by Nadine Sarwat, Trevor Sterling, Jack Cove and Senny Oh said. “We suspect that many investors will dismiss these changes as ‘the boy who cried wolf’, unless it leads to fundamental improvement (which could take months to see).

“We understand the company’s desire to lean into the spirits RTD category. It is still growing… and is currently dominated by High Noon (owned by E&J Gallo) and Cutwater (owned by Anheuser Busch InBev). But recent Truly Vodka Seltzer trends have been modest, and line extending the brand into too many flavors so soon after launch can lead to challenges in driving long-term sustainable growth.”

In the year to 31 December, The Boston Beer Co. reported net revenue of US$2.09bn, an increase of 1.6% on the 12 months prior. Operating profit stood at $90.8m

An unexpected fourth quarter loss of $11.4m sent shares tumbling by 11% in after hours trading on Wednesday (15 February), however.

The brewer blamed the loss on “indirect costs tied to the slowing hard seltzer category growth“ as well as increased supply-chain costs and higher operating expenses.

Beer helped fuel the rise of RTDs. How can it strike back?