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Local man, friends brew a different kind of beverage

HUDSON — An idea began brewing among the minds of three recent University of New Hampshire graduates back in August 2018, and now their alternative beer career is sweeping through stores across New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The idea came to fruition back in May when the three buddies placed their first product order, expecting the 4,000 cases, which is 16,000 six packs, of their alternative, alcoholic seltzer called NOCA to last them the next 3 or 4 months. However, business took off faster than the three friends could have ever imagined.

“It lasted us about 4 weeks,” co-founder Alex Febonio, said. “It went pretty quick, and so we placed another order to do more cases, double that actually. We’ve sold a decent portion of that as well.”

Their three different flavors include, dragon fruit mango, watermelon lime and triple berry. Febonio said a variety pack is currently in the works, and has hopes that it will be made available in the next couple months or so.

NOCA, which stands for no carbonation, can be found in 250-300 different stores in New Hampshire as well as about 300 in Massachusetts. The company launched in Massachusetts just four weeks ago. There are even plans to move into Rhode Island in the near future.

With a growing trend of people sipping seltzers, it wasn’t long ago that these guys were drinking on campus as students, although now students may be drawn toward their unique product. Febonio, 25, said when they were in college there was a “massive spiked seltzer boom.” However, their product, NOCA, is much different than other beverages on the market.

“Think spiked seltzer, take out the carbonation, add a little more flavor,” Febonio said.

The no carbonation idea came about when co-founder Galen Hand said to himself that he doesn’t like carbonated drinks. So, after realizing there was nothing like it on the market as a healthy alternative, Febonio, Hand and their other co-founder and friend Rich Roy, pursued the idea.

Febonio said that Hand left his job in August 2018, to spend a month or so looking at opportunities to start their business. From their, it took about four months of development, honing in on what they wanted their product to be. In the end, they were able to produce an alcoholic beverage that features natural and organic ingredients, with no preservatives and that is gluten free. Their goal was to come up with something that was pure and simple, but also packed a lot of flavor.

“It seems really simple, but it just isn’t out there,” Febonio said. “The spiked seltzers really had a boom, and when you walk around a room, and go, “do you prefer carbonation?” a lot of people actually tell you no, but it’s industry standard to carbonate beverages, is what it seems.”

So, in bringing something new to the market without any of the bubbles that come with carbonation, Febonio went all in back in January when he quit is full time job in Boston, MA where he worked in hotel acquisitions for a group there. He has been pursuing the company ever since, navigating the fears that come with being a young entrepreneur.

At the time he quit, the friends had not yet raised any capital. However, they transformed that idea into a reality in less than a year. He said they all agreed that if they were going to do this, they were going to do it all out, and hit the ground running working on raising capital.

“Things are picking up steam really quickly,” Febonio said.

Their product is brewed and packaged in Baltimore, Maryland and then shipped up to New England and the company is based out of Newmarket, NH. Recently, at an event in the Lakes Region called Brew with a View Getaway on July 12 – July 14, Febonio and his girlfriend attended to do a tasting. He said a number of top breweries were present, and by his estimate, there was somewhere around 30 vendors.

“We actually won best beverage at the event, which was pretty cool,” Febonio said.

Febonio who grew up in Hudson, NH, graduated Alvirne High School in 2012, and UNH in 2016 where he majored in finance and accounting, with a minor in economics. He and his three partners are the same age and graduated UNH the same year. Febonio currently lives in Boston.

Febonio said their success is definitely exceeding their expectations with how well NOCA has been received. The company has people reaching out to them on social media from all over the country, including inquiries from Colorado, Montana and South Carolina.

“I don’t know how they’re even finding it,” Febonio said. “They’re asking us when are you coming here. It seems like the concept has resonated very well, and we couldn’t be happier. We’re obviously having a blast doing it. There’s a huge risk involved, but we cannot thank enough the people who have supported us along the way. The wind in our sails that we’ve had, it’s been pretty incredible.”

More information as well as a store locator can be found on the NOCA website at, https://www.drinknoca.com/.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.