The Great Seltzer Search of 2020

Scott Gargus searches for a Hard Seltzer to love. Spoiler alert, there are several to choose from!

Hard to believe, but the seltzer craze that we see today only began around four years ago. Brown Derby first started selling White Claw in mid-June of 2016, and the category has grown in leaps and bounds since that time. Now virtually every-sized brewery has a seltzer in their lineup, or has been thinking about doing so. 

Fruity, easy-drinking, and available in a broad range of styles (dry-to-sweet, light-to-lighter!), Hard Seltzers offer a typically lighter, broadly-appealing, alternative to beer or wine—like pretty much every beverage, people prefer some brands over others. Some brands have unique flavors, others have widespread recognition, but eventually everyone seems to find one they really like.

I’ve drank quite a few different kinds trying to find some that fit the profile that both my wife and I enjoy—good flavor, low in calories and carbs (#alwaydieting), and, for us, not too sweet. We’ve tried all the big brands, and a lot of the little ones. The early front-runner for both of us was the Smirnoff Seltzer Variety 12 Pack, with four flavors (Cranberry Lime, Berry Lemonade, Raspberry Rosé, and Piña Colada). The flavors are good, the variety is nice, and at 4.5% ABV with 90 calories and 1g carbs per can, these numbers work out pretty well in terms of diet.

Mexican juggernaut Corona recently released our next favorite seltzer, another Variety 12 Pack, this time featuring Tropical Lime, Mango, Cherry, and Blackberry Lime flavors. Corona has impressive stats at 4.5% ABV, 90 calories, and an impressive ZERO carbs. All four flavors are quite tasty, with the Mango probably being my first choice. They have some pretty fruity flavors, no real sweetness, and no weird aftertaste, which is something I get from some other big brands. Sadly, the Corona Distillery had some production issues due to pandemic shutdowns and the supply for this (and other) Corona beverages is going to get lean before summer is out. If you like your cerveza from South of the Border, you might consider stocking up soon.

Finally, I think we’ve found our favorite to date in Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company’s first foray into the seltzer market, Quirk Spiked & Sparkling. Quirk comes in three flavors: Blackberry Sage, Pear Yuzu, and Strawberry Lemon & Basil—all of which have 4.2% ABV, 90 calories, and 1g carbs. Not only are these flavors unique in the category but they taste really good! None are really sweet, but the Blackberry Sage came across slightly fruitier than the other two, which I guess I perceived as a touch sweeter than the other two. All three flavors finish with some fruit, but no odd aftertaste—just easy and delicious drinking! I go back and forth on which of the other two flavors is my favorite—if the Strawberry Lemon & Basil had just a touch more basil in it, I think the savory factor would push it into the lead, but both it and the Pear Yuzu are dandy refreshers on a hot day.

I love a cold beer on a summer’s day as much as anyone, but sometimes I crave something a little lighter and fruitier tasting. Sure, I could be drinking water, but the fun factor isn’t always quite there like it is with the seltzer.

A word of warning though, people have been drinking a ton of all these items and if you want to give them a try for the upcoming Independence Day weekend, you might consider getting to the store soon—production is simply not keeping up with demand on many adult beverages these days, and there may be some holes in the cooler by the 4th!

If you like these, or have some other favorites, you care to share, please reply below. I’d love to see what others are enjoying!

Cheers!

– Scott Gargus

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