What’s the Deal with Hard Seltzer?

These days, it seems like everyone is making a version of hard seltzer, and they are most definitely not all created equal. A good hard seltzer can be a refreshing, lo-cal alternative to a beer or a glass of wine; but are calories the only thing that makes these adult Lacroix’s so popular? Let’s discuss.

What Do the Best Hard Seltzers Have in Common?

To start with, let’s talk about what makes a good seltzer. Seltzer is also called “soda water,” and it is the simplest iteration of bubbly water out there. Unlike club soda and sparkling mineral water, seltzer contains no trace minerals like potassium and magnesium salts. 

As you might guess, seltzer water can be a little boring on its own. But that neutral palette lends itself to all kinds of customization, which is why flavored seltzers have become so popular. They can offer the refreshing crispness of your favorite soft drink, minus all the corn syrup, caffeine, and artificial colors. 

In our opinion, the best seltzer water tastes like what it says it should taste like. The flavor is detectable, but not overwhelming. You should be able to smell it before you taste it. The texture of a seltzer is also very important. There should be enough bubbles to make you burp after a few sips, but not so many that it feels like a dare to drink it. 

The same rules apply to a good hard seltzer, except you’ll be looking for a touch of sweetness-just a touch. The sweetness should be there, but not nearly to the extent of a fruit juice or soft drink. The subtle sweetness is what contributes to the refreshing nature and drinkability of a hard seltzer (and also to the reduction in calories). 

How is Hard Seltzer Made?

There is a common misconception that these beverages are made “hard” by adding some kind of liquor, but this is not the case. Hard seltzers are fermented in the same way as beer and cider. Unlike the latter two, however, hard seltzers are made from fermented cane sugar (in some cases brewers use agave and honey as well). 

The process begins by combining the sugar with water, usually distilled to ensure it is completely free of minerals and other taste-altering elements. This “sugar wash” is then mixed with yeast. This is most often a neutral ale yeast, but brewers can choose the strain they like best. 

The yeast will convert the sugar wash into ethanol and carbon dioxide, meaning it will naturally form bubbles. The fermentation process is usually complete within a week or so, at which point the remaining yeast and other particles will be filtered out. More carbon dioxide may be added to further neutralize the flavor. The result is a hard seltzer base ready to be customized.

At this point, it is up to the brewer to get jiggy with the flavor profile he or she wants for their hard seltzer. This can be done via infusion with fruits, herbs, etc., or by adding flavor extracts to the seltzer. Once the flavors are to the brewer’s liking, more CO2 can be added for the perfect sparkle. 

Why is Hard Seltzer So Popular?

Hard seltzer’s have been around since the 90s, but they surged in popularity during the pandemic. This may be due to a number of factors, but we’d wager a guess it had something to do with a combination of boredom and the emergence of one of our favorite COVID silver linings: the notion of “self care.”

Hard seltzers are not only lighter in calories, they are also gluten free and often contain only naturally derived ingredients. This likely appealed to those of us looking to enjoy an adult beverage while still adhering to our newly acquired self-care beauty and diet routines. 

For those of us that did not adopt a self care routine that involved any kind of exercise during the pandemic (no shade), hard seltzers were still a much friendlier alternative for our expanding, sedentary waistlines. 

Diebolt Fruit Punch Hard Seltzer

All theorizing aside, hard seltzers are fun to make and fun to drink. They lend themselves to virtually any flavor, making them an especially neat way to nurse a little nostalgia. Remember when you were a kid and your mom had to physically make you come back to the house during the summer time? You’d wolf down a PB & J and drink a glass of Kool-Aid until you had a decent Joker smile going? Then you’d run back outside, all that fruit punch goodness sloshing around in your belly? 

Those are the good times that inspired Diebolt’s “Oh Yeah” Fruit Punch Hard Seltzer. It’s like drinking a juicebox in the cafeteria, except it’s got alcohol and bubbles, because we are grown ups. There’s a reason it’s become one of our top sellers at the brewery: thirst quenching bubbles with the oh-so-familiar taste of fruit punch make it an essential summertime beverage. We’ll keep making it as long as you guys love it, so stop by the brewery today to enjoy a glass on our deck. We promise you’ll be hooked. 

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