Galen Hand never drank a lot of soda when he was growing up in Portland. His parents gave him water with fruit in it to drink instead.

When he became an adult and hard seltzer hit the market, it seemed like the perfect drink for Hand. But he couldn’t stomach it – literally. He couldn’t enjoy the seltzer, he said, “without any of the discomfort of carbonation – the bloating, the burping. For me, I always get heartburn.”

Figuring 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 – founded a company called NOCA, shorthand for no carbonation.

Now this 2012 graduate of Cheverus High School is now selling boozy water without the burps. His company is based in South Boston, and his product can be found in 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 build his company: Fred Forsley and Paul Sottery at Shipyard Brewing Co., and Luke Livingston, founder of Baxter Brewing Co. “I had no experience other than as a consumer in the alcoholic beverage space,” Hand said. “I think they saw a young entrepreneur who was trying to do something different, and they offered perspective that was really appreciated.”

Like most hard seltzer, NOCA water has a fermented cane sugar base. It’s gluten free, and has 95 calories and 3 grams of carbs 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 although he can’t handle hard seltzer, he still likes to drink craft beer.

“Trust me,” he said, “I can’t grow up in Maine without drinking Shipyard.”

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