Six British Hard Seltzers You Will Love
Cast your minds back to a simpler time.
We used our insider knowledge to predict which drink trends would make it big in 2020. One of the hot tips was that hard seltzers would become the summer drink of choice for the young and health-conscious.
They took America by storm in 2019 and this year they’ve made their way across the pond.
But what actually is a hard seltzer and which British brands are making them?
Start Simple. What is Hard Seltzer?
Hard seltzer or ‘spiked’ seltzer is alcoholic sparkling water. They can be made one of two ways; either by fermenting cane sugar (or occasionally flavoured malt barley) and adding carbonated water and fruit flavourings or by ‘spiking’ the carbonated water and fruit flavours with a spirit like gin or vodka.
If you don’t think this sounds like a completely new concept, you’re right; this isn’t the first-time seltzers have splashed onto the drink scene.
A Brief History of Hard Seltzer
In 1993, Coors, influenced by the popularity of other low ABV drinks such as wine coolers, decided to develop their own alternative. What they came up with was Zima, a lightly carbonated alcoholic beverage. Otherwise known as a hard seltzer.
Zima initially had strong sales (almost 70% of American drinkers tried it), however, its initial success didn’t last. It was portrayed in the media as a ‘girly man’ drink which damaged its sales amongst men.
Despite a few rebranding attempts, Zima never lived up to its early promise. It was eventually discontinued in the US in 2008 due to poor sales.
Hard Seltzer in its current incarnation was first brewed commercially in 2013 under the name SpikedSeltzer. It was made in Boston by two men, inspired by their wives’ love of sparkling water, who saw a gap in the market for healthier ready-to-drink beverages.
Since the launch of SpikedSeltzer other companies have noticed this gap. In America, several brands are competing in this category. 12 years after Zima was discontinued, hard seltzers have reached their peak of popularity.
But why are they so popular now?
What’s Driven the Resurgence of Seltzer?
In the US, last summer became known as a ‘White Claw’ summer. Hard seltzers were at every picnic, BBQ and pool party and they dominated Instagram.
More cans of hard seltzer were sold on the 4th of July than canned wine and bottles of craft beer and they’re predicted to be worth $2.5 billion by 2021.
But why are hard seltzers popular now, when they weren’t before?
Right, so they are not healthy exactly but they are a better option then offer types of alcohol.
Wellness has become the new watchword in the food and beverage industry. Consumers, especially the 21-35 demographic, are much more aware of what they’re eating and drinking and are willing to spend more on products claiming health benefits or all-natural ingredients.
For a deeper dive into wellness and the drinks industry check out our handy guide to all things ‘well’.
Though they aren’t a wellness drink exactly, hard seltzers are still associated with this health trend. The average can contains between 70 and 100 calories and most boast gluten-free, vegan-friendly and low sugar credentials which have made them popular with those who are conscious of their calorie intake. They’re even compatible with Keto and Paleo diets.
So, while it’s not a healthy drink, it’s a better way to enjoy alcohol.
They’re Less Alcoholic
With an average ABV of 5%, hard seltzers appeal to those who want to drink less alcohol. Gen-Zers typically drink 20% less than their millennial counterparts did at their age. With cost and long-term health effects being cited as the reasons for this decline in drinking, alcohol companies have had to get creative to develop products that appeal to these mindful customers.
To lure back younger customers alcohol brands have begun marketing their products as part of a healthy balanced diet. In the US, hard seltzers have been marketed as something to have post-workout or while hiking or sailing.
Drinks in cans have been on the rise for a few years now and a recent study found that the main reason for this is convenience.
You have the same choice of drinks you would at a bar, and you can take them with you wherever you’re going.
They’re a Lifestyle Choice
In the US hard seltzer has become more than just a drink – it’s a culture. The way they’ve been marketed sells a lifestyle, not just a drink.
They’ve become associated with summer, the heat, the outdoors and everything that goes along with that. While they’re not too expensive and very convenient they still feel aspirational.
Though all hard seltzer was having a moment last summer, there was one brand that really stood out.
They’ve Been Approved by Bros
Thanks in part to a parody video by Trevor Wallace, White Claw became a household name last summer. The video, meant to mock the way fraternity boys loved White Claw, resulted in several catchphrases (including “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws”) and memes that only made the brand more popular.
Perhaps this is the biggest difference between hard seltzer and Zima. They’re not considered ‘girly-man’ drinks. Partly because there has been a shift away from a strict definition of manliness and partly due to how some hard seltzer brands have learned from the mistakes of other brands and consciously positioned themselves as gender-neutral.
We See Success in Seltzers’ Future.
The same trends that paved the way for hard seltzers in the US are happening here. Consumers, especially millennials and Gen-Zers, are looking for healthier, less alcoholic choices, that aren’t expensive but still feel aspirational. We predict this will be enough to make hard seltzers popular.
Our Top 6 Picks of British Hard Seltzers.
British alcohol companies have been taking note of what’s been happening across the Atlantic and home-grown hard seltzers are starting to pop up everywhere. Want to get ahead of the game? Here are our recommendations for British hard seltzer brands.
BrewDog launched their range of hard seltzers earlier this year and, in typical Brewdog style, they’ve made their Clean and Press seltzers with a twist. BrewDog has bucked the trend of using fermented sugar cane and instead are spiking sparkling water with their own brand of homemade vodka.
Currently available in White Peach and Mango, Crushed Black Cherry, and Cactus and Lime – they’re as good as their beers.
Chase saw how popular hard seltzers were in the US and wanted in on the action. Using the same philosophy they used to create their signature gins, Chase have introduced a range of hard seltzers that are low in calories but big on taste.
They’ve combined their delicious Chase gins with water sourced on Chase Farm to create a stunning gin seltzer. The flavours will be familiar to fans of Chase gins (Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo, Seville Orange, and London Dry & Lemon) and they’re just as good in seltzer form.
‘Healthy hedonists’ need look no further than Bodega Bay. Described by the creators as a ‘summer drink with a purpose’, Bodega Bay’s hard seltzers are targeted at those who have chosen to live a healthier lifestyle but still enjoy a drink with friends.
Made from a combination of three simple ingredients: CraftedClear AlcoholTM, sparkling water and natural fruit extracts, they are available in Elderflower with Lemon & Mint and Apple with Ginger & Açai Berry.
As well as creating delicious drinks, Bodega Bay has pledged to donate 1% of all their sales to the Thirst Project which brings clean drinking water to people in need across 13 countries worldwide. We love to see it!
DRTY is another brand that was inspired by the storm hard seltzers were creating in the US. But creators, Oli and Maitja, wanted to do more than just recreate a fad. They think the Instagram life has gone too far and wanted to celebrate the real side of life. They’ve made a drink you’d have with mates in the park instead of posing with it in a bar.
The name DRTY comes from the juxtaposition between their drinks, which are clean and fresh, and the irreverent brand personality they aim to capture.
Currently available in two flavours, White Citrus and Raspberry Rose, though we’ve heard a rumour more will be available soon…
The makers of Long Shot discovered hard seltzers on a trip to America. Fuelled by a rebellious spirit, a thirst for adventure and a healthy dose of blind optimism, they quit their jobs to pursue the perfect hard seltzer.
Long Shot aims to change perceptions of drink ingredients. All their ingredients are grown in the UK and travel less than 20 miles between where they’re grown and where they’re transformed into delicious hard seltzers (except for the grapefruit: it’s too cold for them here!).
Try them in Raspberry and Blackcurrant, Strawberry and Rhubarb, and Grapefruit flavours.
When they couldn’t find the drink they wanted, brother and sister, Fabio and Francesca, decided to make their own. Two Brooks was the result. Named to represent the coming together of the two liquids that make up the drink – water and alcohol and also the two siblings working together.
Their hard seltzers are inspired by cocktail culture (hence their names: Passion Star (Passion Fruit), Mango Hi-Ball (Mango) and Lime Cooler (Lime & Mint)) and are made with a pure fruit spirit made from 100% British apples. We can just picture ourselves sipping them at a summer BBQ.