What Is Hard Seltzer The Truth About This Fizzy Fad
McKenzie Hagan | May 06, 2021
Whether it’s television and YouTube commercials or social media posts, it’s hard to escape the latest alcoholic beveragecraze: hard seltzer. From the wildly popular triumvirate of White Claw, Bon & Viv, and Truly Hard Seltzer to mainstream beer brands like Bud Light, Corona, and Michelob Ultra, it’s clear that the hard seltzer market is having a moment a really big moment.
In 2019, hard seltzer sales were at $4.4 billion and those figures are expected to climb more than 16% from 2020 to 2027. But what is hard seltzer, exactly? And is it true that it’s a healthier option than high-calorie, high-sugar booze? Join us as we find out what the buzz is all about with this bubbly beverage.
Shopping List For Homemade Hard Seltzers:
Make the sparkling water drinks alcoholic with the help of vodka. I recommend getting a middle, to top shelf vodka so that you avoid hangovers, and have a lovely, wonderful flavored sparkling alcoholic water.
Absolute vodka is my personal favorite to make this fruit seltzer alcohol drink, however any comparable vodka, or even Gin will work in these hard seltzer recipes.
Up Next, we will discuss how to make hard seltzer at home, for a fraction of the calories of white claw
Hard Seltzer Ingredients: What Goes Into It
At the most basic level, hard seltzer is simply seltzer with alcohol in it .
The first ingredient is simple: purified carbonated water.
But when we start talking about the alcohol in hard sparkling water, the conversation becomes slightly more complicated. The alcohol type is different across each different hard seltzer brand:
Alcoholic seltzer One of the most popular alcoholic seltzer is considered a flavored malt beverage. That means the alcohol in the beverage is made by fermenting malted barley and hops.
Spiked seltzer Another fan favorite, spiked seltzer, doesnt include gluten, liquor or spirits, according to its ingredient list. Once again, liquor isnt added to the seltzer base rather, the alcohol is made through fermentation, but not of malted barley and hops. The alcohol in spiked seltzer comes from all-natural cane sugar. Many other brands alcohols are made in the same way.
Regardless of whether theyre fermenting malted barley or pure cane sugar, the result is largely similar. The remaining ingredients also tend to overlap:
Natural flavoring Hard seltzers are known for their subtle hints of flavor, which are usually derived from natural sources like fruits and juice concentrates.
Hard seltzers boast a low calorie count, which is a big part of their appeal. Most of these calories come from the alcohol itself with some derived from the other ingredients in hard seltzer, like sugars and other carbohydrates.
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What Is Hard Seltzer And Why Is It So Popular
Why this growth in popularity? There are numerous reasons :
- It packs alcohol content without many calories.
- It is refreshing and light, especially when compared to other alcoholic drinks.
- Diversity! There are endless flavor combinations.
- As it comes in cans and can be sold in grocery stores, it is convenient.
- It is in the same price range as light domestic beer.
- Young people gravitate towards it, as it is trendy and in line with the low-alcohol, easy-drinking phenomenon.
- It is now perceived as a gender-neutral beverage.
Brands Like White Claw And Truly Changed The Way Americans Drink But A Crowded Market And Changing Consumer Behavior May Have Officially Ended The Hard Seltzer Craze
- Hard seltzer is here to stay, experts say, but the craze that swept the nation is officially over.
- Hard seltzers like White Claw became hugely popular in 2019, leading major brands to follow suit.
- But now, the category has become oversaturated and only a handful of brands rule the market.
After roughly three years of hard-seltzer domination, Americansâ love of the canned beverage may be fizzling out.
Molson Coors has nixed Coors Seltzer. Trulyâs parent company is dumping âmillions of casesâ of the hard seltzer. And beverage industry experts are warning that the seltzer craze is on the way out as sales wane across the sector.
Itâs a cool-down for a category that took over the alcohol industry as recently as 2018, spurring major investment from beer companies and inspiring almost too many upstart seltzer brands to count. And while hard seltzer sales may have boomed in 2020 as the pandemic kept people either at home or outdoors, that momentum is waning in 2021.
Hereâs where the seltzer craze began â and why itâs appears to be over.
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You Can Drink Truly At 35000 Feet
In November 2019, Truly and JetBlue announced the launch of Truly Hard Seltzer on select flights from the carrier. According to the companies, Truly Wild Berry was the first hard seltzer available in-flight. Likewise, JetBlue was the first and only commercial airline to serve the spiked sparkler. Incidentally, Truly Wild Berry was the preferred Truly flavor in a VinePair spiked seltzer ranking.
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Best Black Cherry: Vizzy Black Cherry Lime Hard Seltzer
courtesy of SeltzerNation.com
If there’s a definitional flavor of hard seltzer, it has to be black cherryit is, after all, the most popular flavor offered by the most popular brand. The nascent seltzer category is ever-evolving, though, and producers are fast coming up with intriguing riffs on the stalwart flavor. The black cherry entry from Vizzy includes a touch of lime in its flavor profile, applying the principle demonstrated by the bramble cocktail that a drink defined by dark berry character will benefit from a dose of bright citrus. The result is a flavorful and well-balanced seltzer that can also boast the additional benefit of infusion with vitamin C.
Hard Seltzer Is Healthy Sort Of
Its not a coincidence that hard seltzers arrived on grocery store shelves at the same time LaCroix became a strange kind of status symbol. In 2015, Mary H.K. Choi wrote a Letter of Recommendation about LaCroix in the New York Times, calling them a guilt-free, not-too-sweet nor too intense burst of unmistakable joy, dressed up in a hideous can.
At the same time, more Americans were giving up soda, and waiting for them on the other side was flavored seltzer, which didnt have the sugary sweetness or the calories that came with it. By 2017, sales of seltzer had risen 42 percent over the previous five years, with no slowdown in sight.
LaCroixs moment in the sun didnt last long by 2019, its parent companys sales had dropped 62 percent over a year due to increased competition from brands like Spindrift. But seltzer continues to be a drink favored in office refrigerators for its better-for-you blandness and ability to be shorthand for an identity . Hard seltzer mimics the flavors drinkers already know and love, like black cherry, raspberry, and lime.
The irony, of course, is that alcohol isnt actually good for you and neither is seltzer , which only exposes the fact that current wellness trends basically boil down to the same thing diet culture has been aimed at for centuries: fat loss.
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Pure Bay Hard Seltzer
Coming straight from Melbourne is Pure Bay Hard Seltzer, one of the newest kids on the block with a sharp focus on freshness. The refreshing, crispy mouthfeel is a result of the naturally brewed rice fermentation process, which is capped with adding vodka to the all-natural flavours which, for now, include Lemon Lime and Yuzu Grapefruit. Currently, you can grab these online or from BWS stores across Australia for $22 per four-pack of 330ml cans, which pack 4.3% ABV and 99 calories each.
How Hard Seltzer Is Made
Hard seltzer can be made in a variety of ways, depending on the brand and style.
Usually, hard seltzers are made from straight-up fermented cane sugar. Other times it could be brewed from malted barley, made with vodka, or even created gluten-free. These fizzy delights tend to have an alcohol content between 4 and 6 ABV, making them a refreshing and flavorful alternative to light beers.
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The Perks Of Hard Seltzer
The next time youre perusing the aisles at your local grocery store, why should you snag seltzers over the plethora of wine or beer options?
Overall, compared to sodas and beers, hard seltzer has a much lower alcohol content and less sugar. The average hard seltzer hovers around the 100-calorie range, which is about the same calorie content as a shot of vodka, and much lower than a standard beer.
Beer is loaded with carbs and soda is notorious for containing around 40 grams of sugar. In contrast, hard seltzer usually has fewer than two grams of sugaror none at all, if youre looking at Flying Embers.
Clean And Press Brewdog Distilling
Never one to miss a hot trend, this year the punks at Brewdog joined the seltzer market with the launch of its Clean and Press range. Developed by Brewdog Distilling, the Scottish brewers spirits arm, the Clean and Press range is made with its own Rogue Wave Vodka and is available in three flavours: Cactus and Lime, Crushed Black Cherry and White Peach and Mango. Each expression has an ABV of 5%, contains 90 calories and is made with no sugar.
At the time of its launch James Watt, co-founder of Brewdog, said: Rather than being fermented like other seltzers, our Clean and Press hard seltzer is quite simply sparkling Scottish water spiked with our exceptional single malt vodka, Rogue Wave. With Clean and Press were continuing to be uncompromising on flavour and quality, ideal for people wanting a lighter drink that still delivers attitude.
Clean and Press is priced at £2.50 per 200ml can and will be available to buy in packs of six or 12 from the Brewdog website and in select Tesco stores and online.
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Hard Seltzer Vs Mixed Drinks
Mixed drinks are usually made with different types of liquor .
The serving size for liquor is usually 1 oz , and the calorie count is between around 100 to 115 and no sugar. Pure distilled liquor is also gluten-free.
Mixed drinks combine liquor with different drinks , like:
Depending on the type of mixed drink, the sugar and calorie content can be quite high , so its important to know exactly whats in your drink.
Blending Clear Spirits To Make Hard Seltzer
For those who dont want to brew their own hard seltzer, there is a much easier way that just involves a clear, neutral spirit such as vodka or Everclear and a little bit of math. To do this, youll just take your alcohol and blend it with water until you reach the 3.5% 6% ABV range. This is pretty easy math when you know the ABV of your base spirit. To be honest, this is more mixing or bartending your way to a seltzer rather than a homebrewed or homemade hard seltzer like we outlined above, but if you dont have the equipment or desire to brew your own, then this method will suffice.
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Best Spicy: Press Premium Blood Orange Chili
Courtesy of Drizly.com
Heat-seeking fans of hard seltzers will love Press’ properly spicy Blood Orange Chili. The 110-calorie offering does not skimp on the Scoville units, mixing fragrant citrus with nose-prickling peppery spice. Its a balance of heat and subtle sweetness, while simultaneously remaining refreshing. The flavor variant would also be terrific topped off with a splash of tequila or vodka.
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Best Fruited: Willies Superbrew Mango & Passionfruit
Courtesy of Drizly.com
Willies Superbrew is super transparent about its ingredients, listing the percentage of actual fruit juice used in each of their seltzers. According to Mack, using real fruit instead makes varieties such as Blueberry & Lemon and Pineapple & Lime drink more like an on-the-fly, low-alcohol cocktail than it does a can of artificially flavored soda water. He personally loves all the flavors, but often gravitates toward the Mango & Passionfruit because it tastes like a beach day in a can.
Light Refreshing And Easy Drinking There’s A Reason Why They’re So Popular
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Best for Seltzer Fans:Arctic Chill Weekender at Drizly
These blend Polars popular flavors, such as Pineapple Pomelo and Ruby Red Grapefruit, with a 100-calorie alcohol base.
Best Black Cherry:Vizzy Black Cherry Lime Hard Seltzer at Instacart
The flavor that defined a category gets an update with the addition of bright, lively lime.
Over the last five years, hard seltzer has gone from a bubbly upstart to a category juggernaut, sold at grocery stores, bars, and sports stadiums far and wide. Hard seltzers appealed to customers looking for lower-calorie alcoholic beverages that still delivered big flavor and refreshment, one slim 100-calorie can after another.
Its a tried-and-true template that can make it tough to tell hard seltzers apart, a fizzy blur of boozy water flavored with black cherry or grapefruit. However, not all hard seltzers are created equally. Some favor real fruit juice or organic ingredients, while other brands look to cocktails or exotic fruits for flavorful inspiration.
To help you make sense of the effervescent offerings, here are the best hard seltzers to drink right now.
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Sliq Spirited Ice: An Alternative Alcohol
Seltzers may be all the rage, but theyre certainly not the only way to partake in some adult-only funand not the best way, either.
Unlike hard seltzers, which are essentially glorified fizzy water and some fermented sugar, SLIQ Spirited Ice pops are made with premium ingredients, including top-shelf liquors like 100% blue agave spirit, seven-times distilled vodka, and superior white rum straight from the Caribbean.
Dont worry, though the frozen cocktail beverages still contain gluten-free, vegan-friendly and kosher ingredients.
If youre tired of sipping multiple seltzers just to feel a slight buzz, youll love that SLIQ packs a bit more of a punch. Each single-serving alcohol ice pop has 8% ABV as opposed to the usual 5%, with the perfect sweetness level and vibrant flavors in each bite. Depending on ones personal preference, we have 3 distinct choices: vodka ice pops, , and rum ice pops to satisfy all unique cravings.
The next time you partake in some good-natured and responsible imbibing, make the right choice and enjoy the elevated experience of a SLIQ Spirited Iceor two, or three.