Q&A with Becky Hard Seltzer Founders Eric Burdick and Sheldon Wiley

Marilyn HawkesApril 1, 2021
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Photo by Aaron Kane

 

Phoenix beverage industry veterans Sheldon Wiley and Eric Burdick have recently teamed up to launch Becky, a new hard seltzer that’s also known as “personality in a can.” Available in four flavors – pink lemonade, passion fruit, mango and tropical cherry – Becky might help you “turn on that fun gear and have a good time,” Burdick says. “We all have a Becky inside of us.”

Do you consider Becky a disruption in the alcohol category?
Burdick: These bigger companies are just slapping a name and a brand on their (products) and not really taking it much further than that. The taste profile was amateur and average. We wanted Becky to speak more to the demographic we wanted to go after, the Gen Z and the Millennials. If you give them something more exciting and fun, we feel like they’re going to run with it.  We also backed it up with taste. She’s full-bodied.

How do you explain your success?
Wiley: We come from a hospitality background, combined 35 to 36 years. Applying that hospitality experience approach along with our relationships with on-premise bars, restaurants and night clubs, has really helped catapult us from the jump, specifically in this market, but we have these relationships all over the nation. We did it by aligning with the people in the industry and the buyers and the trade – servers, bartenders and management. It really won them over and got them on board. They are essentially the billboard for our product and that’s who is taking the pictures and posting them all over social media. We’ve leveraged that into securing retail.

How did you decide on those four flavors?
Wiley: A lot of trial and error. We tried combinations of flavors and if something just wasn’t hitting the mark, we’d move on to something else. It was very important that we capture the true essence of the fruit itself. Every time you take a sip, we want you to smell the aroma of the flavor and feel like you’re biting into a ripe fruit.  We feel like we hit the mark with those four (flavors). We want to do more, but we’re going to nurture these for a little while. We definitely have some other ideas in mind.

What’s the best way to drink Becky?
Burdick: Right out of the can because of carbonation levels. Again, just like with the flavor profile, it’s about the mouthfeel, too. Our carbonation is set at a very specific pressure so it finishes clean and crisp and it’s refreshing. If you pour it over ice, you’re going to dilute it. If you pour it in the glass, you lose some of the carbonation.

It seems like you’re really having fun with this brand.
Wiley: As you can tell, we’re really playful. The name of our company is Personality Juice. We don’t want anybody to take it too seriously. As Eric mentioned, there’s a little Becky in all of us. That someone who has the ability to turn it up a couple of notches. We like that approach. It’s about fun and not taking things too seriously. In times like today, we could all loosen up a little bit.

What’s next?
Wiley: We have an even more fun version in the works. She’s going to be 10 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), and we’re going to call her Blackout Becky. She’s going to push the limit. She can get where she needs to be a little bit quicker.

Find Becky at Total Wine, BevMo, AJ’s Fine Foods and local restaurants and bars.

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