Review: Queen City Hemp CBD Seltzer

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Cincinnati-based Queen City Hemp makes a line of CBD-infused seltzers that contain full-spectrum hemp extract.

Available in four primary flavors — Blood Orange, Guava, Passion Fruit, and Lemon & Lavender — Queen City Hemp’s main line offerings contain just 5 mg of hemp-derived CBD and 0 calories.

The ingredients panel is simple and straightforward: carbonated water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate and natural hemp extract.

All four core flavors are bubbly and have inviting aromas, however the hemp can leave your mouth feeling a bit dry.

  • The Blood Orange SKU is effervescent and has a pleasant citrus nose, but the actual fruit flavor is somewhat muted and not easily detectable.
  • The Guava variety has a sweeter smell and taste but is not quite as quaffable as the other offerings.
  • The Passion Fruit flavor has a floral, perfume-like aroma. Of the four SKUs, it definitely has the most noticeable hemp bitterness.
  • Lemon & Lavender is perhaps the most refreshing offering in Queen City Hemp’s core lineup. It has a strong lemonade-like nose and subtle herbal quality that makes this beverage the most complete of all the SKUs.
  • A fifth, limited-edition lime flavor called “The Lazarus” features 12 mg of CBD and has an almost Gatorade-like aroma and flavor.

All five products we sampled were enjoyable. However, we feel as if they don’t do enough to really stand apart from other CBD drinks on the market.

As the hemp-infused drinks space continues to evolve, we see CBD as a complimentary ingredient that will work alongside other functional additives and give consumers a well-rounded product. In our view, relying on CBD as the only selling feature will become increasingly difficult over time, especially as other beverage manufacturers innovate products that contain other functional ingredients at better price points.

Additionally, a product infused with such a minimal dose of CBD (only 5 mg) feels like it could get stuck on the chopping block when beverage buyers review their seasonal sets. We’d recommend upping the dosage, perhaps to 10 mg or 15 mg.

From a packaging standpoint, Queen City Hemp’s branding and labeling needs some work. While the varying color schemes help differentiate each SKU, the stock images of the various fruits on the front of the cans inadvertently tells the consumer the product is still a work in progress.

We’d also like to see a more noticeable callout of “zero calories” and “zero sugar” and less emphasis on “CBD” on the front of the label. Our last suggestion would be to rethink the use of the phrase “all natural energy.” Most consumers associate energy with caffeine, and the brand should try to avoid confusion at all costs.

Overall, Queen City Hemp has a lot of positives to build on. While none of the flavors were extraordinarily memorable, there’s plenty of opportunity to enhance the product and the brand before the CBD drinks space really explodes. Fine-tuning the formulation, updating the branding, and improving communication on the label will go a long way to helping Queen City Hemp stand out from competitors.


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