Bitter Bubble Bursts into the non-alcoholic scene - A new concept for complex seltzersOct 11, 2023 10:01PM ● By RACHAEL GOMEZ
While new to the market, the idea was formed years prior.
THIRSTING FOR THE PERFECT BEVERAGE
George, a mechanical and electrical engineer by trade, first met Eric while assisting on the design of Hen of the Wood, a project being done by the engineering firm he manages. Their paths crossed again through a local cider company, Citizen Cider, where George’s families had been providing fresh juice for their hard cider production.
“We became good friends and had a lot of fun during these early days where there was just so much excitement around the industry scene, especially having Hen of the Wood arrive in Burlington,” George explained.
At this point, Citizen was expanding from Essex to Pine Street in Burlington, and there was some great energy around cider and classic cocktails in the region.
George recalls seeing the expensive, bright tank at Citizen that was used for finishing ciders, but was left dormant for days at a time while they waited for fermentations. Someone suggested that they should consider creating a Vermont seltzer using the equipment in the downtime.
It was a fun concept, but George didn’t see how it could be much different than your everyday seltzer—still, the idea lingered in the back of their minds. It wasn’t until years later that George was served a beverage by Eric that completely changed George’s mindset on what seltzer could be.
“One night at Hen of the Wood, I was given an Angostura Bitters and Soda Water, which weirdly, I had never tasted,” George said. “It was exactly what I was looking for in a daily drinkable—but complex seltzer— and began drinking it regularly as a non-alcoholic option.”
And so the formation of Bitter Bubble began.
Over the years, George tried many different recipes, but nothing truly stood out. It wasn’t until he and Eric fully committed to building Bitter Bubble together in 2020 that things really took off.
“Eric brings his experience from the restaurant industry and was paramount in the development of flavor profiles and branding,” George said.
“I bring my technical background and experience with manufacturing through Citizen on how to scale and maintain quality.”
Together with their good friend and branding expert, Dennis Healy, they developed and created their lineup. The flavors currently on the market are sour cherry and chicory, rhubarb hibiscus, and blood orange chamomile. They have plans to expand their portfolio with new flavors in the future, including using some unconventional flavors such as birch bark, basil, and cardamom.
They use a line of natural extracts that they source from a company in New England and pair that with their house blend “bitter base” consisting of extracts from gentian, chicory, and dandelion, which is consistent through all of the product lines.
“Our primary goal is to make an approachable product with our bitters,” George said. “But we would like to branch out to some deeper bitter flavors in smaller formats for cocktail mixers or any individuals who want to play a little deeper into the bitter void.”
WHERE TO FIND BITTER BUBBLE
They are currently distributed directly to consumers through their website in Vermont through Baker Distributing. They plan to be available in Rhode Island and Massachusetts by the end of the year and are looking to expand distribution into New York next year. While no tasting room plans are drawn up just yet, the idea isn’t off the table.
“It would be a dream to get to the point where we could have a tasting room and fun spot to converse over all things bitter,” George shared. “Maybe 2024?”
You can currently find Bitter Bubble in both City Market locations, Healthy Living, Cheese Traders, Commodities Natural Market, Killington Marker, and Jericho Market. Products are sold in single cans and four packs, typically priced around $7 per four pack.
You can also imbibe on Bitter Bubble at Halvorson’s, Prohibition Pig, Honey Road, Hen of the Wood, and The Avocado Pit.