If you’ve been paying attention the past few years, there’s no doubt you’ve come across a hard seltzer at a barbeque or event. These light and bubbly summer staples are just about everywhere, and we’re pretty happy about it.
Since 2013, when hard seltzers first entered the scene, they have grown steadily to control a large portion of the alcohol market. In fact, in 2020 alone, hard seltzer sales rose to over 104 billion. That’s a lot of buzz for a drink that gets you buzzed.
If you’ve been wondering what hard seltzer is but have been too afraid to ask, we’ve got your back.
The History of Hard Seltzer
Classic hard seltzer is so simple that it’s surprising no one thought of it before (Notice that we said classic hard seltzer, because ours is anything but basic). A blend of carbonated water, combined with alcohol and fruit or flavoring, hard seltzer is a light, refreshing drink that gained popularity on the heels of the LaCroix boom.
Long before that, though, a drink created by Coors in 1993 entered the market under the name “Zima.” Trying to build off the popularity of low ABV wine coolers, Zima was a carbonated citrus-flavored malt beverage that was clear in color. It was an attempt to reinvigorate the declining beer sales of the early 90s, and it worked for a while. More than 70 percent of all drinkers tried it. The only problem: it didn’t taste good.
In 2012, Nick Shields, a manager of a small beer brand in Connecticut, sought to change all that and create a new drink category. Nick saw a group of women ordering vodka sodas at his local watering hole and realized there was a desire for alcoholic carbonated drinks that were low in calories and sugar. He immediately started creating recipes to fill that desire.
Nick and his partner concocted their first batch of SpikedSeltzer in Nick’s garage. Considering that they created their first batch in early winter, the decidedly summer-style cocktail was slow to catch on. However, one thing was for sure—people loved the taste.
Once the seasons changed, this hard seltzer brand took off. The partners had difficulty keeping up with demand until they finally partnered with Anheuser-Busch and went national.
But why did the desire for a spiked seltzer reach a fever pitch in the mid-2010s?
The term “seltzer” comes from a place in Germany known as Niederselters. This could explain why we often find ourselves nieding a seltzer.
Seltzer is a generic term for any carbonated water or soda water. The natural spring water in Neiderseltzer had high carbonation with low mineral content and was then bottled and turned into a product that was sold as far back as 1728.
Traditional seltzer’s real spike in sales came as many Americans were giving up soda and looking for a tasty alternative. By 2017, sales of the La Croix seltzer, in particular, had risen 42 percent over the previous five years.
It made sense that people who enjoyed seltzers would want to find a way to make them alcoholic. Since seltzer was seen as a trendy drink, hard seltzer enjoyed a meteoric rise.
What Makes Hard Seltzer Hard?
Spiked seltzer may be lighter and more refreshing than most other alcoholic beverages, but the science behind it is the same. The boozy nature of alcohol comes from the fermentation process.
The basic building blocks of fermentation come down to yeast. Yeast breaks down sugar (aka glucose) that’s present in a substance and puts out two waste products—ethanol and CO2. That’s what gives a hard seltzer both its ABV content and its refreshing, effervescent bubbles.
Fermented cane sugar is usually used to give spiked seltzer its brighter buzz. When it comes to hard seltzer, brewers ferment straight-up sugar or cane sugar in water. The result is a clear alcohol that is carbonated after fermentation.
The alcohol content of our spiked seltzer is five percent, but most fall between four and six percent alcohol by volume. In case you were wondering, that’s just enough to put a buzzy spring in your step.
Why Are Hard Seltzers So Great?
Because hard seltzer is tied to health-conscious consumers, many companies have branded their products as contributing to wellness. Since it has fewer calories and is generally gluten-free, people tend to think of hard seltzer as better for you than other types of alcohol.
While no alcohol is never “healthy,” you may be looking to be more mindful about what goes into your body. Hard seltzer does have less sugar than most traditional alcoholic beverages—in fact, ours has none at all. It’s also gluten-free, low-calorie, and low-carb—that’s right, we’re the Meryl Streep of seltzers, because we do it all.
You might be surprised to find out that a drink made from fermented sugar is low in sugar, but most of the sugar in the fermentation process converts to alcohol.
The best part of hard seltzers, according to consumers, is the convenience. You can snag them any place where you can buy beer, which is great for people living in areas where wine and spirits can only be purchased in liquor stores.
That’s not all—our unique, handcrafted flavors, our specially chosen, organic ingredients, and the adaptogen root blend that makes an appearance in each and every flavor set us even further apart from the other guys.
Our botanical blends are formulated with only the best—bright, juicy watermelon and piquant peppers in our Watermelon Chili flavor, the taste of freshly peeled citrus and tropical hibiscus in Clementine Hibiscus… We could keep going forever.
Spiked seltzer certainly has a lot going for it: It’s light, refreshing, and it goes down easy. But it’s not the only game in town. There are plenty of other drinks to choose from, and when we’re not drinking seltzers, we have another personal favorite.
Hard kombucha is a fantastic way to get a better buzz. This sparkling hard tea, like our hard seltzer, is handcrafted and made with bold and imaginative flavor combinations. It’s also fermented with organic ingredients, whole plant botanicals, superfruits, and adaptogens.
Hard Seltzer: For Everyone
Some people still associate different types of alcohol with gender, which is weird. You can drink anything you want to—it’s just about finding what tastes good.
Hard seltzer is a drink for doing summertime things: going to the beach, attending an outdoor concert, or boating. Because many consider it a more upscale drink compared to liquor or beer, younger adults see it as a point of pride. Since they’re not packed with extra sugars and carbs, they also aren’t going to make you feel lousy after drinking, which is a massive benefit in and of itself.
The real reason the drink has transcended gender norms is the simple fact that it is delicious. With organic ingredients and blissful blends like Passionfruit Elderflower and Guava Jalapeno, it’s no wonder hard seltzer has become such a lasting beverage.
Here at Flying Embers, we create handcrafted hard beverages for flavors that feel as good as they taste. We’re changing the hard seltzer game by making our seltzers with organic ingredients, whole plant botanicals, superfruits, and adaptogens.
Leave basic behind you—no more plain lemon-lime or ruby grapefruit seltzers. Instead, step outside the box with specially crafted flavors like Watermelon Chili and Pineapple Cayenne from our Sweet & Heat variety pack, or Black Cherry Rose and Passion fruit Elderflower from our Fruit & Flora line. The best part is that they all have zero grams of sugar, so you can enjoy crafted flavor without all the extras.
What’s more, we donate one percent of all our revenue to address firefighter, first responder, and community needs nationwide, through wildfire prevention and education, real-time natural disaster response, and recovery. We continue to search for new ways to make an impact, and we couldn’t do it without the continued support of our customers like you.
Sources:Coronavirus: Hard seltzer sales US 2019-2020 | Statista