Published on August 22nd, 2020 | by Darren Paltrowitz


15 Beverage Discoveries For Summer 2020 & Seasons Beyond

The 2020 summer season sadly now closer to its end than its start, but there has been no shortage of interesting news items related to the beverage world as of late. In turn, below are 15 fun, creative and/or intriguing news items I have recently discovered as a result of research and recent reading.

Fire Department Coffee

For better and for worse, I drink a lot of coffee, and I do that 6 or 7 days a week. But sometimes it becomes challenging to find a brand of coffee that you can love the taste of and also get behind from a philosophical viewpoint. Fire Department Coffee, as founded in Rockford, is both run and made by firefighters. The brand not only donates a substantial amount of its profits to firefighter-related causes, but it also provides free coffee to a lot of firehouses. The growing brand has spirit-infused coffees and is Stipe Miocic-approved.

My current favorite offering from Fire Department Coffee is its Bourbon Infused Coffee. Its bourbon infused coffee beans are bold and smooth, going down easy just like your favorite bottle of bourbon. But for those folks who like to regularly change up their coffee game, Fire Department Coffee has a fun, subscription-based Coffee Of The Month Club. This growing Rockford, Illinois-based company — which I had the pleasure of visiting on-site in 2019 — also runs the Fire Dept. Coffee Foundation.


pH balanced water with electrolytes and boosted with oxygen, OXIGEN was created to help you recover and rise. And unlike most bottled waters that are “recyclable,” OXIGEN is made from 100% recycled plastic — healthy for your body and the planet alike. Also of note about OXIGEN is that earlier this month it announced a new owner, investor and the global face of the brand: Stephen Curry. Curry has changed the game of basketball, and his mission to inspire transcends the world of sport.

RISE Brewing Co.

In the words of the great RISE Brewing Co. itself: “We provide energy for good people to do good things.” They brew with the best ingredients they can source to create great-tasting beverages. As a New York-based nitro cold brew coffee company specializing in nitrogen-infused organic coffee — as sourced from Fair Trade organic beans from Peru’s Chanchamayo Valley — its offerings include Original Black (clean, strong, frothy), Classic Latte (rich, silky, balanced), Oat Milk Mocha (decadent, chocolatey, velvety) and Oat Milk Latte (earthy, creamy, smooth). The oat milk-based offerings are vegan, while all of these dtinks are Non-GMO, USDA Organic and nut-free.

Elmhurst 1925’s Plant-Based Milks

Elmhurst 1925 is a plant-based food and beverage company located in New York. The company manufactures and sells simple, nutritious non-dairy, plant-based milks made from nuts, grains, and seeds. Its first 4 nutmilks — almond, cashew, hazelnut, and walnut — debuted at Natural Products Expo West in March 2017. All Elmhurst plant milks are created through a unique HydroRelease method, which uses water to harness the full nutritional content of raw nuts, grains and seeds. Furthermore, all Elmhurst plant milks are certified vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, dairy-free and OU kosher, while made without artificial flavors, carrageenan, gums or other emulsifiers. I had the pleasure of trying its Matcha Oat Milk Latte and was very impressed, to say the least.


CarryOn is a new line of CBD sparkling waters designed to restore and relax the mind. Developed by Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.’s Lighthouse Incubator, the brand is available in 2 blends, Elevate and Descend. Elevate is a sparkling grapefruit flavor, geared to keep you calm but sharp. Elevate blends Choline to keep you fueled and focused and 10 mg of CBD. Descend is a sparkling blueberry flavor designed to provide relaxation with no impairment. Descend combines L-Theanine to help you relax and calm the mind, and 20 mg of CBD. Both blends contain Vitamins C and E, no added sugar, and only 10 calories per 11.5 FL oz can, making it a low-calorie and health-oriented beverage option.


NOCA is fast-growing spiked water brand that is pioneering a new category of refreshing beverages: hard seltzer without the bubbles, or “boozy water.” NOCA is clean, simple and refreshing, and offers distinctive fruit flavors such as Dragonfruit Mango, Triple Berry and Watermelon Lime with a smooth finish at only 95 calories and 4.5% ABV per can. As a gluten-free beverage that is crafted from pure cane sugar, NOCA makes for some ideal refreshment after some beach yoga, time on the golf course, or a sweat-inducing hike. While a new-ish offering, NOCA is already sold in over 1,000 retail locations, beyond shipping to 31 states including New York, Florida and California.

Vive Organic

Staying healthy is now more important than ever, and recently rapper Wiz Khalifa took to his Instagram to share how he is taking care of his health in a simple, efficient manner with the help of Vive Organic. Reportedly the only doctor-crafted wellness shot on the market, every Vive shot is a fresh but concentrated blend of plants, herbs and natural nutrients. Vive Organic’s shots are intended to give you a boost toward wellness needs, whether that be immunity, restoration, energy or even mood. The brand’s offerings are USDA Organic, gluten-free, certified-vegan and Non-GMO Verified.

Alani Nu’s Energy Drinks

Alani’s energy drinks are naturally formulated to bring you an extra boost during your busy day. These drinks have zero sugar, 10 calories, and a little dash of biotin to support your natural glow. I had the pleasure of trying Mimosa, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Cosmic Stardust and Tropsicle from the Alani energy drink collection, and my favorite is the Cosmic Stardust — strong but not too strong, delicious, and served in a coolly-designed can.

However, energy drinks are not all Alani is known for, however. The brand also sells protein powders, protein bars, “fit” gummy bears, and nutritional supplements. My favorite non-drink sampled was the Confetti Cake-flavored Whey Protein Powder. The container provides up to 30 servings of the powder, which delivers 23 grams of protein per scoop with only 3 carbs and 1 gram of sugar.


Flaviar is a club for fine spirits enthusiasts. The company’s mission is to help everyday people build their dream home bar. Both an online-based and a real-world community, Flaviar currently ships to 35 states, offering free shipping. Participating brands include Glenfarclas, Patron, The Macallan, Lagavulin, Yamazaki, Bulleit Bourbon, Sipsmith, and Woodford Reserve. Flaviar membership is currently priced at $300 per year, or $95 a quarter. New and notable from Flaviar is that it has launched Frérot Extra, a Hors d’âge Cognac from Grande Champagne aged between 30-50 years and bottled non-chill filtered at 41 percent ABV, currently retailing $200 via

As further reading, Flaviar co-founder Grisa Soba spoke with The Hype in December 2019.


If beer is more your thing than spirits, Washington State-based Tavour is a company that tries thousands of beers from small craft breweries, ultimately bringing you the gems you can’t get at the store. In turn, Tavour works directly with hundreds of independent breweries to curate craft beer gift boxes with one-of-a-kind selections. In turn with selections as diverse as the Vanilla Ice Cream Stout from Wild Leap Brew Co. in Georgia and the Juicy IPA from WeldWerks Brewing in Colorado, a Tavour purchase is ideal for any sort of gift-giving opportunity you may come across.

Excellent beer offerings aside, Tavour is onboard with the on-going “Black is Beautiful” beer-related campaign, which brings awareness to more individuals and helps to bridge the gap. Started by Marcus Bakerville, the head brewer and founder of Weathered Souls Brewery, this partnership includes more than 500 breweries from around the country; to join this partnership these breweries have decided to donate 100 percent of the beer’s proceeds to local foundations to support the black community and commit to the long-term work of equality.

Aberfeldy 12

Earlier this month, The Hype featured an Aberfeldy 12-enhanced recipe with relation to the brand’s participation in National Honey Bee Day. As more information about the acclaimed spirit, Aberfeldy 12 is aged in the finest of oak casks using water from the Pitile Burn, a river renowned for its water quality and famed for its rich deposits of gold. Coupled with deliberately slow distillation and exclusive Scottish barley, Aberfeldy 12 has a unique honeyed quality. With notes of spices and plump fruit, the exceptionally-aged single malt whisky also has hints of pineapple and fudge.

Quinta do Regueiro wine

During the pandemic many of us are finding our wallets tightening, yet for us wine-drinkers, our taste for fine wine remains. Nearly everyone into fine wine has tried Vinho Verde — the fun, refreshing and inexpensive white wine –tyet many have yet to explore Monção e Melgaço, 1 of the 9 subregions of Vinho Verde and wines they produce. Nestled in the far Northwest corner of Portugal, next to the border of Spain, Monção e Melgaço wines are undeniably the hidden gems of Vinho Verde, and an affordable alternative to many Old World whites. These handcrafted whites are made from small, family-owned wineries and are perfect for consumers looking to explore new, quality-driven white wines. I had the pleasure of trying Quinta do Regueiro’s Alvarinho 2018, which was bursting with grapefruit, stone fruit, and jasmine notes. Expect a creamier silkier mouth feel than expected from this varietal.

AVEC Drinks

AVEC is a new better-for-you craft mixer co-founded by Dee Charlemagne and Alex Doman, former classmates at Columbia Business School. Made in Brooklyn, AVEC — meaning “with” in French — wants everyone to rethink what they mix with our alcohol through its mixers, as made with all-natural real juices, botanicals and spices in stylish 8-ounce carbonated cans. Just add the spirit of your choice and top-notch cocktails have never been so easy, tasty, or good for you. In addition to nationwide shipping and online delivery via Drizly and minibar, AVEC is now stocked all over New York City and the Hamptons, with plenty of growth from the rising brand to be expected.

Usual Wines

A subscription service is available for those who fall in love with the wine and want it dropped off at their doorstep monthly, Usual Wines is currently offering Summer Rosé — a pack of 12+ (single-serve) bottles of Usual Rosé — with a limited-edition Thermal Tote Bag to keep the wine chilled for hours. Said Tote Bag is complimentary with purchases of 12, 18, and 24-packs of Rosé. Usual Wines sells both monthly and one-time-order boxes of California-based sustainably-farmed Brut, Red, and Rosé varieties, also offering a “Mixed Pack.” Customers can text 415-941-0440 with any questions or to order more wine.

The newest innovation from Usual Wines is the Usual Spritz, the DTC brand’s first-ever low ABV canned wine, as made with clean and simple ingredients. The limited-release Usual Spritz is composed of sparkling wine mixed with — a splash — of real, 100 percent natural guava juice, and nothing else. It’s a bright and crisp low-calorie option (132 per 250 ml can) that’s great for this year’s (socially-distanced) Labor Day Weekend backyard BBQ and an elegant alternative to a hard seltzer. Available in a 6-pack for $36 or a 12-pack for $72.

Zhou Nutrition

Zhou Nutrition aims to make every person’s greatness shine by offering products that provide tailored, purposeful supplement solutions that speak to individual wellness needs. Zhou’s nutritionists and scientists double quality test each of its high-quality, undeniably-nourishing ingredients and finished products in its own lab in Utah to ensure they are free of heavy metals, contaminants, and irradiation. Zhou Nutrition does its homework so customers can enjoy products that are high-quality, lab-verified, manufactured in FDA-inspected facilities, and follow good manufacturing practices.

The company’s Water Enhancers make drinking water more enjoyable, to say the least. They are available in 6 delicious natural flavors, and support a variety of wellness needs, from hair and skin health to memory and management of occasional stress. My favorite is the “Energy+Focus” offering, which includes caffeine, B-12 and L-Theanine.


Founded by GRAMMY-winning musician Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, MAD TASTY is an all-natural, low-calorie beverage with 20 mg of pure broad-spectrum hemp extract. It also happens to be the first non-musical product Tedder has created. As the story goes, the product was created to help Tedder and his peers to relax, hydrate, and boost their creativity. Battling anxiety and panic attacks since 2017, Tedder started using CBD/hemp extract and wanted a way to take it every day without the bitter CBD/hemp taste and he’s not alone. MAD TASTY also features zero sugar, while also being vegan, low-calorie and non-GMO. And on the charitable end, for every 12-ounce can sold, MAD TASTY donates 12 ounces of clean water to people and places in need through DROP4DROP.

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."

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