What Is Hard Seltzer

It seems like hard seltzers shot up in popularity out of nowhere, but really, it’s just an evolution of sparkling water and regular seltzer. What makes it seem like this new category of beverage came out of nowhere is their massive presence on social media. Social media has helped its popularity skyrocket due to luxurious photos of these seltzers and the people that drink them.

But what really is hard seltzer? Is it an overrated trend or a fun alternative to traditional alcoholic beverages? Is it worth a try? Is it healthy? 

We’re going to cover all of it. 

What Is Hard Seltzer?

Also called alcoholic seltzer, hard sparkling water, and spiked seltzer, hard seltzer is carbonated water mixed with alcohol and fruit flavor. Its alcohol by volume (ABV) levels falls in between 4-6%, though there are higher levels of alcohol depending on the brand. 

What is technically the first hard seltzer was originally marketed as SpikedSeltzer and then later rebranded to Bon & Viv. They now create flavors like Pear-Elderflower and Black Cherry Rosemary. However, Zima, a flavored malt beverage, first appeared in the mid-90s, so hard seltzers have been a long time in the making. 

Typical hard seltzer flavors include:

  • Strawberry-Kiwi
  • Watermelon
  • Lemon Lime
  • Raspberry
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Passion Fruit
  • Ruby Grapefruit
  • Blueberry 

Brands from the Boston Beer Company and Mark Anthony Brands to Michelob Ultra are getting in on the action. There’s even a Bud Light Seltzer. 

Many brands offer variety packs that allow you to sample multiple flavors, and there’s even hard seltzer iced tea and seltzers that claim to have high levels of antioxidants changing the hard seltzer game these days. 

How Is Hard Seltzer Made?

Like wine and beer, hard seltzer goes through a fermentation process. For beer, yeast is the main ingredient. For wine, it’s grapes. For hard seltzer, it’s usually sugarcane. Some hard seltzer brands use malted barley to create flavored malt beverages as well.

Fermenting sugar is a process with many steps. Sugar is heated and then diluted to the right alcohol level and added to a fermenter with yeast. After all that, flavors and citric acid are added to improve smell and taste. 

Is Hard Seltzer Healthier Than Other Alcoholic Drinks?

A major part of hard seltzer’s popularity is that it’s a healthy alternative to other alcoholic beverages. But is that true? Let’s do some comparing so that health-conscious consumers know what they’re looking at.

Beer Vs. Hard Seltzer

When considering an average 12 ounce can, most light beers have around 100 calories. Most hard seltzers have around that same amount. But any beer with a higher level of alcohol can have over 300 calories. 

Carbohydrates can range from around five to 20 grams depending on the beer. Hard seltzer is around two grams. 

Wine Vs. Hard Seltzer

Wine is also made with sugar and fruit, so is it like hard seltzer? It seems especially similar to rosé. However, wine tends to have a higher level of ABV, around 10 to 15%, compared to hard seltzer’s 5%.

An average serving of wine has a calorie range between 100 to 150. Again, depending on the type of wine or brand, this number can change. Hard seltzer averages around 100 calories. 

Wine has around four grams of carbohydrates compared to hard seltzer’s two grams. 

Hard Seltzer Vs. Hard Liquor

Most clear liquors are low-calorie, so they’re a good competitor for hard seltzer. However, hard liquors’ ABV levels are much higher than hard seltzers’.

Is Hard Seltzer a Healthy Drink?

What’s fascinating about sugarcane-based hard seltzers is that a significant amount of sugar gets turned into alcohol, allowing for lower sugar levels than expected—often less than three to four grams of sugar per can. 

It’s not actively healthy, though, even if brands use real fruit juice. The amount of real fruit juice in any hard seltzer is too small to get any nutrients. 

Depending on the brand, there can be added sugars like corn syrup to enhance the flavor. Just like with food, it’s important to read the ingredients before assuming anything is healthy. 

Also, just because it’s made with carbonated water doesn’t mean it hydrates you. In fact, it does the opposite because any alcoholic beverage makes you use the bathroom more often. So remember to keep some water, sparkling or not, on hand. 

We’re not saying not to drink hard seltzers—quite the opposite, in fact. We’re just saying to be aware of these facts when you’re drinking them. Honestly, moderation is everything. 

Is Hard Seltzer Just a Fad?

Hard seltzers may have started as a fad, but it’s here to stay. The hard seltzer market is expected to grow significantly in size. There’s a big demand for gluten-free and low ABV level adult beverages in countries like America, Australia, and South Korea. 

Part of hard seltzer’s popularity is its convenience. Ready-to-drink flavorful beverages are gaining more notoriety because they give their drinkers more freedom. 

It’ll be interesting to see where this market goes and how it expands your options. 

Experimenting With Hard Seltzers

Yes, you can drink hard seltzers as is, but you can experiment with them as well. Whether you need simple ideas you can do in your kitchen or more complicated ones at your home bar, here are a few ideas that should be fun to try.

Add Juice

Since hard seltzers already feature fruity flavors, it’s easy to mix them with different juices. You can focus on a specific fruit like orange, cherry, or pineapple juice to intensify the flavor. 

Add Fruit

If you have some extra fruit around, try pairing them with your hard seltzer. It’s a great way to end the day after dinner. 

Add Wine

You can create a wine spritzer. They’re usually made of white wine, club soda, something bitter, and citrus. Hard seltzer can replace club soda. 

Make a Hard Lemonade/ Limeade

If you have some lemonade or limeade lying around, mix it with hard seltzer to create your own hard version. 

Mix Two Flavors

You can get really experimental by mixing two different flavors. How would a blackberry hard seltzer taste mixed with mango or lime one? 

Make A Margarita

You can create a margarita with certain flavors of hard seltzer, tequila, lime, and agave. Add some salt or sugar to the rim of the glass, and you’ve got a margarita!

Add a Cocktail Herb

People already think hard seltzers are fancy. Why not make it fancier by adding cocktail herbs like basil, mint, or lavender? It’ll add another layer to your seltzer’s flavor too. 

Make Mixed Drinks

There are a variety of recipes out there that show how to use hard seltzer in different types of mixed drinks. If you have a favorite, see if you can use a hard seltzer as an alternative. 

Our Favorite Hard Seltzers

All this talk about hard seltzers is making us crave some. Here are some of our favorite hard seltzers. We want to showcase a variety of brands and flavors. Give them a try!

Faerie Fizz

An exclusive to TapRm, this is a floral garden in a can. It features Jasmine flowers, basil leaves, and a variety of berries. It has an ABV level of 5% and is gluten-free. 

Hustle Harder Seltzer: Grape Kiwi

This hard seltzer is brewed with champagne yeast and real fruit. It features a fruity flavor with hints of Darjeeling tea and Hibiscus flower. It has an ABV level of 6% and is gluten-free. 

Mas Agave Premium Hard Seltzer Strawberry

This hard seltzer is elevated by blue agave nectar, real fruit juice, cane sugar, and sea salt. It’s aromatic and has a crisp taste. It has an ABV level of 4.5% and is gluten-free. 

Lunar’s Plum

Lunar is the first Asian-American craft hard seltzer that started in NYC and is made with fruits from Asia. This seltzer is made with real Korean plums and is fermented into a woody, sweet, fragrant syrup before becoming a seltzer. It has an ABV level of 4.8% and is gluten-free.

Willie’s Superbrew’s Mango and Passionfruit

This brewery is a TapRm partner! This hard seltzer features flavors of mango, passion fruit, and a bit of lime. As soon as you open the can, the fruit fragrance will fill your senses. It has an ABV level of 4.5% and is gluten-free. 

Two Robbers’ Pineapple & Ginger

Thanks to the pineapple flavor, this hard seltzer is sweet and has a bit of a kick from the ginger. It’s made with simple ingredients and has a refreshing taste. It has an ABV level of 5.2% and is gluten-free. 

Crook and Marker’s Blackberry Lime Mojito

Crook and Market is another TapRm partner! Their hard seltzer is USDA organic with no sugar. It’s full of blackberry and lime flavors and has a hint of real mint for a cooling effect. It has an ABV level of 4% and is gluten-free. 

Smooj’s Pina Colada Hard Seltzer Smoothie

This fruity seltzer smoothie is made with real lime, coconut, and pineapple. It’s a vibrant yellow color and has delicate carbonation. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. It has an ABV level of 5%. 

Hard Seltzer Isn’t That Hard to Understand

Now you know that it’s not that complicated with hard seltzer, as long as you’re not the one making it. They’re fun, fruity, and a lighter alternative to heavier alcoholic beverages. 

While they seem like just a fad, they aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, they might grow more in popularity as new brands and flavors pop up. 

Are you going to try it straight or start by adding it to a drink you already like?

 

Sources:

White Claw Week: White Claw Margarita Spritzer | The Domestic Rebel  

Hard Seltzer Market Size & Share | Industry Report, 2020-2027 | Grandview Research

What Does ABV, ABW, and High-Point Have to Do With Beer? | The Spruce Eats

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