What Would the Father of Fizz Think about Hard Seltzers?

This is a sponsored post from Flavorman, a beverage development company dedicated to the art and science of flavor formulation. We work with established beverage companies and entrepreneurs alike.


Hard Seltzers: Hard Soda’s Crazy Healthy Hippy Aunt

Joseph Priestley, the “Father of Fizz,” invented soda or “seltzer” water in 1772. Today, we at Flavorman bet he’d get a real kick out of our bubbly discussions, especially this recent chat regarding hard sodas. Joe’s groundbreaking discovery has led to the development of another adult beverage steadily rising in popularity – one that cuts calories, utilizes all-natural flavors and could even make life a little nicer after rockin’ the dance floor the night before. In short, we’re pretty sure he’d be fascinated by this follow-up investigation: A hard look at hard seltzers.

The Challenges

It’s no secret that flavored seltzers have taken the soft drink market by storm. Understandably so. Flavored seltzers deliver that carbonated party-on-the-tongue sensation soda drinkers seek while acting as a low-calorie alternative to the syrupy brands we grew up swigging. So why not see where else the party could lead with hard seltzers? Let’s see what’s fizzin’.

Similar to light beers, hard seltzers contain between 2 and 5 percent alcohol. Most are gluten-free and are made with natural fruit. We’ll get to more benefits in a bit. But for now, here’s the rub: lack of flavor.

You can add alcohol to seltzer, but you can’t add a ton of flavor carriers (masking the flavor is a challenge for wines and malts – we could tell you how to do it, but then we’d have to kill ya). As such, it’s important to educate those unfamiliar with the flavored seltzer phenomenon. For instance, consumers report that White Claw Hard Seltzer’s packaging claims are true – they state up-front that there’s a “hint” of black cherry in their black-cherry flavored hard seltzer. That’s a fair gesture to those who would be expecting the intense bud bursts provided by hard ciders, lemonades, etc., only to be let down by a slightly flavorful bite of suds, then a ghostly finish. Then again, maybe this isn’t such a big problem, after all.

Seltz“aaahhhh.”: The Good News

Cool. Crisp. Clean. Refreshing. We’ve seen those words work miracles in the marketing beverage sphere for ages. Now here comes hard seltzer, which is undeniably living up to those cherished terms. But what about that flavor dilemma? Fortunately for Sam Adams Spiked Seltzer, Truly, Nauti, White Claw, Palm Breeze, and other hard-seltzer sellers, there are other elements that can make one feel better upon hearing the “kit-chshh” of a popped top. Hard seltzers are less caloric —  they use less sugar than hard sodas. As such, they can be also be used as a low-calorie yet appropriately potent cocktail mixer that won’t make mornings any rougher than they have to be (well, depending…). As for anticipated and current fans, like hard sodas, hard seltzers generally appeal mostly to women. Unlike hard sodas, however, they are less likely to attract underage drinkers – total bonus.

Now back to that flavor issue/potential non-issue. Consider that previous notion of hard seltzers and their use as alternative mixers. Will citrus ever not be a hit? Lime, grapefruit, lemon and orange will always be compatible carbonation partners. Combos like cherry-lime could also attract mild sweetness seekers. In addition to mainstream flavors, it’s easy to foresee hard seltzers going craft in the future. That includes what you could call Crazy Craft. After all, we’re living in a world where canned, ready-to-drink pickle juice is chic. And why not? The sour green goodness has been confirmed as offering multiple health benefits (confession: we love the stuff). Since you can practically seltzify anything, we should be prepared to see anything on the shelves. Here’s to exploring our fizzy future.

If you have any questions about this article or if you would like to perfect your flavor, please feel free to start a conversation.