Cheverus High grad develops a product which is adjacent to seltzer water

Galen Hand never drank a lot of soda when growing up in Portland. Her parents gave her water with fruit to drink instead.

When he became an adult and seltzer water hit the market, it seemed like the perfect drink for Hand. But he couldn’t take it – literally. He couldn’t enjoy the seltzer, he said, “without the discomfort of carbonation – the bloating, the burping. For me, I still have heartburn.

Thinking that other people must share the same problem, Hand and two of his college friends – he graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 with a business degree – started a company called NOCA, short for no carbonation.

Now this 2012 graduate of Cheverus High School is now selling alcoholic water without burping. His company is based in South Boston, and his product is found throughout most of New England, Greater Philadelphia, and New Jersey. It launched in Maine early last summer and is available here at Hannaford and Market Basket.

Hand said three Maine experts in the beverage industry offered him valuable advice that helped him start his business: Fred Forsley and Paul Sottery of Shipyard Brewing Co., and Luke Livingston, founder of Baxter Brewing Co “I had no experience other than as a consumer in the alcoholic beverage business,” Hand said. “I think they saw a young entrepreneur who was trying to do something different, and they offered a perspective that was really appreciated.”

Like most hard salts, NOCA water is made from fermented cane sugar. It’s gluten-free and contains 95 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrate in a 12-ounce can. The ABV is 4.5 percent, similar to that of hard seltzer. What it doesn’t have: bubbles.

The water comes in eight flavors, including mango, berry, and watermelon lime.

Hand says that even though he can’t handle the harsh seltzer, he still enjoys drinking craft beer.

“Believe me,” he said, “I can’t grow up in Maine without drinking at the shipyard. “

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