Hard seltzer, adult seltzer, mature seltzer, spiked seltzer and hard sparkling alcohol water is a type of highball drink containing seltzer (carbonated water), alcohol, and often fruit flavorings.[1] In the US the alcohol is usually made by fermenting cane sugar or malted barley.[1] Hard seltzer products outside of the US have been found to use either neutral spirit,[2] or fermentation of fruit.[3] The alcohol by volume is around 5%[4] and the calorie-content is relatively low.[5][6]

Cans of hard seltzer drinks
Japanese Hard Seltzer

History edit

The concept of flavored malt beverages has been popular since the 1990s.[7] The first widely available commercial example of the style was Two Dogs, which was brewed in Australia in 1993 and was claimed to be the "world's first brewed alcoholic lemonade" (falsely, because of the pre-existence of traditional drinks like sima, a fermented Finnish drink). Two Dogs paved the way for similar commercial products such as Hooper's Hooch and Mike's Hard Lemonade. These alcoholic alternatives were commonly known as alcopops in the United Kingdom and malternatives in America. The more modern renditions of hard seltzers started with Nick Shields developing the 'Spiked Seltzer' branding style, in Westport, Connecticut, brewing the first commercial batches in November 2013.[8] The hard seltzers that we are familiar with now did not rise to popularity until almost three decades later in 2018.[9] Sales of the most popular hard seltzer brand, White Claw, grew 85% in just one year, making over $4 billion in 2020 alone.[10] Analysts attribute the success of White Claw and the appeal of hard seltzer in general to increased demand from health-conscious consumers.[11]

Nutritional information edit

Across all hard seltzer brands, there is a median of 100 calories, 2g of carbs, 0-2g of sugar while still maintaining 5% alcohol. Additionally, most hard seltzers are gluten free. Seltzer marketing has claimed that these beverages offer a healthier alternative to drinking more calorically heavy alcoholic beverages.[12] Companies use these facts to their advantage, often stating the nutrition facts in easy-to-read and obvious places. The social media presence of hard seltzer companies is massive and often depict healthy people drinking and having fun, further perpetuating the notion that hard seltzers are a healthy alcoholic alternative.[13] However, although it may be ‘healthier’ in many ways, nutritionists have warned that this is not a healthy beverage. Many hard seltzers have added flavoring and are mixed with sugary soda waters to add sweetness.[14]

Branding edit

In addition to advertising hard seltzers as the 'healthy alternative', the marketing of hard seltzers has often relied on their trendiness. In 2019, YouTuber Trevor Wallace posted a video title “Summer of White Claw”. This video went viral and was watched over 6 million times. The aftermath of this video made sales of White Claw (as well as other hard seltzer brands) skyrocket. After this video was released, White Claws were so popular that the surplus of sales led to a shortage within the company.[15]

Many critics have pointed out that alcoholic beverage ads are often targeted to certain genders. For example, many beer companies advertise their drinks as being ‘manly’. However, seltzer companies have made a point to have gender-neutral advertising in order to reach the most people possible. This genderless way of advertising is also accountable for the drink's surge in popularity.[16] The demographics of hard seltzer drinkers are Caucasians who are 21 to 44 years of age.[15]

The rise of hard seltzers in the beer category may also be seen as a reflection of the broader surge in popularity of non-alcoholic flavored seltzers evidenced by the sudden and massive popularity of brands like LaCroix and Spindrift.[17] On the back of this popularity, hard seltzer brands have launched in numerous countries outside of the U.S., including in Canada,[18] Australia,[19] Finland[20] and the UK.[21] In February 2020, White Claw launched in Canada[22] and subsequently Australia and the UK.[23]

Fermentation process edit

Similarly to beer, fermentation is needed to make these drinks alcoholic. However, instead of yeast converting to glucose,[24] the fermentation process of Hard Seltzers consists of directly fermenting a sugar base. This fermentation process yields a discoloration in the product so effective filtration practices of these colors and odors is necessary. A common filtration process consists of a carbon treatment which uses CARBOFIL RW, RHC or CA filter sheets.[25] This creates a plain alcohol base where flavor can be added afterwards.

Popular brands edit

Hard Seltzer Market Shares of Popular Brands in the United States [26]
Brand Percentage of Market Share
White Claw 50%
Truly 24.9%
High Noon Spirits 10.4%
Bud Light Seltzer 10%
Bon & Viv 1.28 %
Other Brands 15.92%

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Jennings, Rebecca (August 20, 2019). "Hard seltzer is here to stay". Vox. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  2. ^ "Alcohol Content in a Bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade". www.leaf.tv. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "DRTY Hard Seltzer". DRTY Drinks. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Bernstein, Joshua M. (June 21, 2019). "Like LaCroix, but With a Buzz". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  5. ^ Ritzen, Stacey (August 2, 2019). "Best White Claw Memes: Why Has the Hard Seltzer Gone Viral?". Dailydot.com. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  6. ^ "Spiked Seltzer Is Now Out-Selling All Craft Beer – Best Spiked Seltzers". Delish.com. August 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  7. ^ Contois, Emily J. H. (2022). "White Claw and Gender Neutrality: What Hard Seltzers Reveal about Alcohol Advertising's Long Journey toward Gender Inclusion". Advertising & Society Quarterly. 23 (2). doi:10.1353/asr.2022.0014. ISSN 2475-1790. S2CID 251044774.
  8. ^ Nanos, Janelle (February 25, 2016). "5th Generation Beermaker Tries to Tap New Market". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Hartmans, Avery. "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". Business Insider. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  10. ^ "Hard Seltzer Craze Makes White Claw Maker a Multibillionaire". Bloomberg News. November 8, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  11. ^ "Big beer pops top on new hard seltzer brands in 2020". www.spglobal.com. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  12. ^ Shank, Theresa. "The hard truth about hard seltzer: It's not as 'healthy' as you may think". Inquirer. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  13. ^ Woolderink, Nicole (2022). "Is hard seltzer considered as a new (un)healthy drinking alternative?" (PDF): 87. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "The Facts About Hard Seltzer". WebMD. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  15. ^ a b Dimitrakis, Theano (February 17, 2022). "White Claw Marketing Strategy: How the Hard Seltzer Brand Manufactured Viral Growth". NoGood™: Growth Marketing Agency. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  16. ^ "The Key to White Claw's Surging Popularity: Marketing to a Post-Gender World". www.bentley.edu. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  17. ^ Huddleston, Tom Jr (December 5, 2019). "How White Claw and the hard seltzer craze are taking on beer—and taking over America". CNBC. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  18. ^ "Vodka Soda In A Can Is The Low-Calorie Hit Taking B.C. By Storm". HuffPost Canada. August 20, 2019. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  19. ^ "A Definitive List Of 32 Hard Seltzer Brands Available In Australia". Boss Hunting. December 31, 2020. Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  20. ^ "Hard Seltzers - Olvi". Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  21. ^ Mcginn, Helen (February 23, 2020). "Cheers to the boozy water, says Femail drink expert HELEN McGINN". Beverage Daily. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  22. ^ "People In Toronto Lined Up Around The Block In The Cold For White Claw's Canadian Launch". www.narcity.com. February 29, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  23. ^ "Hard seltzers hit the UK - but will they see the same success as in the US?". beveragedaily.com. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  24. ^ Pilkington, P. H.; Margaritis, A.; Mensour, N. A.; Russell, I. (January 2, 1998). "Fundamentals of Immobilised Yeast Cells for Continuous Beer Fermentation: A Review". Journal of the Institute of Brewing. 104 (1): 19–31. doi:10.1002/j.2050-0416.1998.tb00970.x.
  25. ^ Ledergerber, Bettina (November 2021). "HARD SELTZER BASE: Color and odor reduction with activated carbon" (PDF). Filtrox Ag: 6.
  26. ^ "Hard Seltzer Market Size & Share Report, 2022-2030". www.grandviewresearch.com. Retrieved January 31, 2023.