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What are Hard Seltzers?

Alcoholic Sparkling Water

Everything you need to know about the fastest growing drink trend

The popularity of hard seltzers exploded in the US last year, so much so that some stores in the US placed a ration on them. This popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed here in the UK, thanks in part to almost every US Instagram influencer under the sun endorsing at least one brand of low carb alcoholic sparkling water. To help the uninitiated amongst you, DrinkWell has answered the most common questions about hard seltzers to help you order a couple of cases for yourself.

What are hard seltzers?

Hard seltzers are a delicious lower-calorie, fruit flavoured alcoholic sparkling water drink. These refreshing drinks are simply made from carbonated water, alcohol and natural fruit flavouring, making them the perfect choice for anyone looking for a lower carb or lower calorie alternative to beers, wines or spirits.

Unlike many other sweet ready-to-drink beverages, such as canned spirits and mixers or fruit ciders, there is also no added sugar. Instead they’re packed with crisp and refreshing natural flavours, perfect to enjoy over ice on a hot summer's day.

On top of this, they are suitable for vegans and for a gluten free diet, and are available in a variety of different flavours, such as blackberry, lemon and lime, meaning that there is something to suit most tastes!

For many, they’ve become a welcome change from the tried and tested summer drinks.

Where does the name hard seltzer come from?

Seltzer is the American name for carbonated water and hard basically means that it's alcoholic, similar to how the term “soft drink” means there is no alcohol.

In the US, they’re also commonly referred to as “spiked” seltzer, meaning they’re a seltzer water that’s been spiked with alcohol. This name is slightly misleading though, because most hard seltzers use an alcohol that’s unique to them, usually made via the fermentation of cane sugars.

Who Invented Hard Seltzer?

While similar low-alcohol, fizzy beverages have existed for decades, the specific style of drink that we refer to as hard seltzer or spiked seltzer, was developed by Nick Shields, in Westport, Connecticut, and first became commercially available in 2013. The drink launched under the name of SpikedSeltzer and was later bought off and rebranded as Bon & Viv in 2016.
Since its conception, the drink has seen an incredible explosion in popularity, with many of the biggest commercial drink brands launching their own versions and flavour profiles to the market.

How is Hard Seltzer Made?

The ingredients and process involved in making seltzer are fairly simple. Generally, the three main components are carbonated water, flavouring (usually from fruits), and alcohol.

In most cases, the alcohol in seltzers comes from the fermentation of cane sugar in water, rather than grains. This process produces a clear alcohol that is carbonated and flavoured after fermentation, giving producers control over the range of flavours and calorie count of the drink.

However, the alcohol and ingredients used in seltzers may vary widely depending on the brand. Some brands use malted barley to produce their alcohol, while others use infusions of well-known spirits, such as gin and vodka.

Are hard seltzers better for you?

Part of hard seltzer’s claim to fame is the common assumption that sipping on a refreshing glass of spiked seltzer is healthier than having a glass of beer or wine. In 2020, 40% of American consumers reported choosing a hard seltzer over a cocktail.

The simple ingredient list makes it a lighter alternative to many popular drinks. The fermentation process through which the alcohol is obtained leaves behind no residual sugars and very little else is added by carbonated water and flavourings. This means that hard seltzers have a lower calorie count, and lower sugar levels than similar ABV counterparts, like beer.

However, the delicate fruity flavours of many hard seltzers make it easy to forget that want you are consuming is not just a refreshing soft drink. Hard seltzers still contain alcohol, an ingredient that should always be approached with moderation.

How many calories are in hard seltzers?

One of the reasons hard seltzer drinks have become so popular is that they offer a lower calorie alternative to other ready mixed fizzy alcoholic drinks. On average, there are between 80 to 100 calories in a 330ml can of a hard seltzer drink. For example, in the Bodega Bay hard seltzer cans there are 72 calories, which is significantly less than the 172 calories found in an average 4% alcopop drink.

Why are hard seltzers becoming so popular?

Hard seltzers have already been hugely popular in the US - so popular, in fact, that last summer stores faced shortages, leading to huge public disappointment! Predictions suggest that the hard seltzer market will be worth $2.5bn in the US by 2021 - not surprising, given that in 2019 U.S drinkers bought more hard seltzer by volume than vodka. But just why have these drinks experienced such success?

Here are some of the reasons behind the success of hard seltzers:

  • They are a lower calorie alternative to many other sweet flavoured drinks, such as alcopops or spirit and mixers. This makes them a great drink option for those enjoying a low carb or keto diet.
  • Most hard seltzers are gluten free and vegan friendly which is a big selling point for anyone with those dietary requirements.
  • The drinks are ready mixed and canned, making them great for parties, festivals or the beach. You can forget having to carry heavy glass bottles of vodka and mixers and leave the glasses at home because you can drink hard seltzers straight from the can.
  • They come in a range of exciting natural flavours. With flavours ranging from Elderflower, to White Citrus, to Black Cherry, it is impossible to become bored of hard seltzers, as you can choose a different flavour each time, or just stick to your favourite!

Which hard seltzer is the best?

With a wide variety of brands and flavours available, it can be hard deciding which hard seltzer to try first. Here are some of the big players already making their way on to the UK shelves.

Mike’s Hard Seltzer

Available to purchase on the DrinkWell website, these tasty 5% ABV drinks contain 100 calories and 2 grams of sugar per can. Flavours include black cherry, lemon and lime. Mike’s alcohol source is a natural grain spirit that has been five-times distilled, and the drinks are suitable for vegans and gluten free diets.

DRTY Hard Seltzer

Containing just 83 calories per can, DRTY Hard Seltzers are available in two flavours - Raspberry Rose and White Citrus. They have a slightly lower alcohol content than Mike’s Hard Seltzers, coming in at 4% ABV, and also contain 0g of sugar. DRTY Hard Seltzers are made from fermented fruits with 100% fermentable sugar profile, leaving no residual sugar and no carbohydrate.

Bodega Bay Hard Seltzer

Bodega Bay provides an expertly curated blend of CraftedClear™ Alcohol, Sparkling Spring Water and natural flavours of Elderflower, Lemon and Mint. These 4% ABV cans contain just 72 calories and 4.5g of sugar. Bodega Bay Hard Seltzer is a brand with a social conscience, and has pledged to invest at least 1% of sales in supporting the Thirst Project, which brings clean drinking water to people in need across 13 countries worldwide.

White Claw Hard Seltzer

American brand White Claw has already proved hugely popular in the States, and is available in 8 exciting fruit flavours, including black cherry, mango, clementine, natural lime, ruby grapefruit, raspberry, lemon and watermelon. These gluten free drinks contain 100 calories and 5% ABV. We’re hoping to see this on DrinkWell in the coming months.

Where can you buy hard seltzer in the UK?

DrinkWell are excited to be one of the first stockists of hard seltzer drinks in the UK. We have a number of different brands and flavours available to purchase on our website, providing a wide selection to choose from for our customers. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this growing trend offering more choice than many other supermarkets, stores or online retailers. 

Wanna try them all? Why not grab a mixed case and find your favourites!

Or browse the DrinkWell collection for the biggest and best selection of hard seltzers this side of the Atlantic. Keep your eyes peeled for more additions throughout the year.

Browse Our Range of Hard Seltzers Now

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