When you pour most hard seltzers into a glass, they look like water’s bubbly cousin. That’s right, hard seltzers often look clear and bubbly, except they’re flavored to look colored.
Don’t let the appearance fool you, though, these refreshing clear drinks have as much alcohol as beer (an average of 5% abv).
So what exactly is a hard seltzer?
Also called hard sparkling water or spiked water, hard seltzer is an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting a mixture of water, sugar, and yeast. The resulting solution is then carbonated and flavored with various fruit juices or other flavorings.
Let’s talk about how hard seltzer is made, why people drink it, and every other thing you need to know.
An Inside Look Into the Making of Hard Seltzer
Hard seltzer is brewed, not distilled or mixed with any other liquors; it’s made by fermenting pure cane sugar. In the US, hard seltzer is often made with pure cane sugar or malted barley. But outside the US, manufacturers make hard seltzer with fermented fruit or neutral spirits.
Here’s how hard seltzer is generally produced.
Cane sugar (sucrose) is first added to clean hot water. Hard seltzer can also be made with glucose or honey.
Next, yeast is added. The yeast is usually neutral to keep the drink clean. Some nutrients are added to the yeast to facilitate the production of alcohol because, unlike beer production, sugars alone don’t give the yeast enough to work with. The grains used to make beer have enough nutrients for the yeast.
After fermentation, the mixture gets discolored and has an unpleasant smell, so how does everything amount to the clear, refreshing drink people enjoy today?
The mixture is filtered. Some manufacturers use a centrifuge, and others use plate and charcoal filters. The first filtration turns the seltzer black, but it removes all the impurities and unpleasant aromas.
It’s then filtered again, this time to turn it into the clear liquid we see today.
The filtered seltzer is usually high in alcohol, but then it’s cut with water to get the desired alcohol volume.
Next, flavoring is added. This step gives manufacturers the freedom to experiment with various fruits. The most common hard seltzer flavors are citrus flavors.
Some manufacturers use fruit juices that give the seltzer more flavor and color, but most use flavorings.
Lastly, the hard seltzer is carbonated to a high degree because the pizzazz is in the fizz. Carbonation in hard seltzers is usually higher than that of other liquors because it’s part of what makes it so refreshing and flavorful.
A Brief History of Hard Seltzer
The first popular hard seltzer was Zima by the Coors brewing company, it was introduced in 1993, but for many years, the public wasn’t interested in hard seltzer, so it was discontinued in 2008.
Some years later, in 2013, a new hard seltzer hit grocery stores. Initially called Spiked Seltzer, this drink is said to be created by two men who were inspired by their wives’ love for sparkling water.
They created “an alcoholic version of sparkling water” and sold out quickly. They made profits in the millions and sold the company. That company is now known as “Bon and Viv” and was the pacesetter for spiked seltzer.
Today, hard seltzer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the United States, with sales increasing each year. It is now produced by many different breweries, and it comes in a variety of flavors.
Why People Prefer Hard Seltzers to Other Liquors
Here are some reasons why people reach for a can of hard seltzer instead of beer or tequila.
Ease of Consumption
Hard seltzers have a light and refreshing taste, making them easy to drink. They usually come in 12-ounce cans, making them easy to enjoy and transport. Beer is too filling, and cocktails are complex, so it’s no surprise that people choose the easy option.
The frizzy and refreshing quality of hard seltzers makes them perfect for the beach, pool, and summer parties.
Low Alcohol Content
Most hard seltzers contain around 5% alcohol by volume, which is significantly lower than other liquors like wine. This makes hard seltzers an ideal option for those who want to enjoy a drink but don’t want to overindulge.
Variety of Flavors
Hard seltzers come in a variety of flavors. This makes it easy to find a flavor that suits any taste. If you’re a lemonade lover, great, there’s a hard seltzer lemonade flavor.
What if you like mango? There’s a mango flavor. No tastes are left out when it comes to hard seltzers, and this variety is one of the reasons why people love it so much.
Hard seltzer is generally low in calories and sugar, making it a better alternative to regular soda and beer. It is also often gluten-free and can be a great option for those who want to enjoy a refreshing drink without having to worry about calories or sugar.
However, like all drinks, there are some potential risks. Although hard seltzer is generally low in calories and sugar, some brands can contain added ingredients like artificial sweeteners, which can be harmful to your health.
Tips for Enjoying Hard Seltzer Responsibly
- Know your limits: Low alcohol isn’t no alcohol. Hard seltzer is still a form of alcohol and should be treated as such. Know what your limits are, and make sure to stay within them for a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Stay hydrated: Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your night or day to help keep your body hydrated and your mind alert while you drink hard seltzers.
- Eat before you drink: Eating food helps to slow down the absorption of alcohol into your system, so make sure to have a meal before you start drinking.
- Alternate between drinks: Alternate your hard seltzer with water, juice, or other non-alcoholic beverages. This will help you stay hydrated and keep your alcohol consumption in check.
- Pace yourself: It can be easy to lose track of how much you’ve had to drink because hard seltzer comes in small cans. But it’s important to remember to drink responsibly. Take your time and enjoy each sip. A rule of thumb is two cans or less.
Hard seltzer was initially marketed toward women due to its lightness and low alcohol content. Now, this alcoholic sparkling water is gender-neutral and drunk by people of all ages. What are you waiting for? Get yourself a can today!