Hard seltzers have made their way over from the US and, with a rush of new launches, are set to dominate this summer.
But, what exactly is a hard seltzer? Simply an alcoholic flavored sparkling water. Brand owners use an array of different booze bases – from gin and vodka to fermented fruit and cane sugar, or a neutral grain spirit.
Low-ish ABV, low calorie, and often low-sugar, gluten-free, or with no added sweeteners (though not all), hard seltzers have been pitched as a great summer refresher.
Packaged in slim, single-serve cans, they’re a convenient, more virtuous replacement for the alcopops of old.
It’s been a few years now since the craze truly took hold in the US, with brands such as White Claw and Truly gaining cult followings for their range of low-calorie sparkling waters, spiked with booze and fruit flavors, accompanied by marketing images of fit young things in workout gear.
Tapping into health and wellness trends – and packaged in handy, and consciously Instragrammable cans – hard seltzers sales have boomed across the pond.
The category is currently valued at $2.5bn (£1.9bn), having grown sales by more than240 per cent in 2019. And now, brand owners are coming for the UK, with everyone from Scottish brewer BrewDog to Aldi joining in on the trend.
New launches continue, with gin brand 58 Gin, and Served, which uses sustainably sourced fruit launched as we went to press. Expect many, many more throughout the summer.
From putting together our list, one thing has become clear: this much-hyped drink of the summer certainly divides opinions. Loved by some for its low-calorie approach to enjoying a boozy treat, their detractors mainly criticise this new and burgeoning drinks category for being, dare we say it, a little bland.
So, are they any good? Let’s be clear, hard seltzers are not claiming to be the most flavoursome, characterful drinks out there. They’re claiming to be the best for you, or at least, the least bad. If your drink of choice is a peaty whisky or a complex rum, then sure, they may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a lighter pre-mixed option – or you simply don’t enjoy boozy tasting drinks – then there’s a wide array of tasty flavour choices out there.
From our research, we found a very varied approach when it came to flavour. Where some brands proudly display sugar-free claims on cans, others opt to use artificial sweeteners or sugar (while still being low calorie) to boost their appeal to consumers that like things more on the sweet side. We’ve made that clear in our list.
And with an array of different fruit flavours on offer – some enhanced with a little mint, or even chilli – there’s enough variety to please most. We’ve looked to bring you a varied array of what we think are the best.
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