Alcoholic Seltzer Water: The New Beer

Image courtesy of White Claw

We’re here, folks. It was only a matter of time.

Beer is dead. Long live the New Beer.

Let’s be real, though. You’ve probably through that beer has been in a steady decline since you started drinking beer and forming your own opinions. There are so many styles of beer that even beer drinkers have been asking if beer is beer anymore. If beer isn’t beer, what is beer?

Alcoholic seltzer water, of course.

Of course I’m kidding. Beer is far from dead, and while craft beer as an industry has slowed, global beer sales are still impressive.

Hear me out, though; Corona (and other beers) don’t use real hops. They use synthetic hops. Is that still beer?

Other beers don’t use barley and substitute it with rice or corn syrup (as famously exposed on Big Game Sunday by Bud Light). Barley, or at the very least grain, is a main ingredient for beer, so are these beers that use corn syrup still beer?

What if a beer didn’t use barley or real hops, just water, yeast and other stuff, is it still beer?

Keep this question in mind, dear reader, and explore the exciting possibilities of alcoholic seltzer water being a beer.

What is hard seltzer?

Alcoholic seltzer water, aka hard seltzer water, is exactly what it sounds like: seltzer water that gets you drunk.

These bad boys come in 12 oz cans, clock in around 6% ABV and are currently the rock in my life that’s keeping me from floating away into the great big blue. They also come in different price ranges like beer, and different qualities (like beer).

A main ingredient of seltzer water is real fruit. Plenty of sour beers use real fruit, too.

Here’s one thing seltzer water isn’t: seltzer water with alcohol added. I know so many people are thinking that it’s just some horrible vodka tonic knockoff. Not nearly.

Hard seltzer water is made similarly to beer – that is, it’s fermented. Like lagers, this is a cold fermentation process. The similarities to beer are seemingly endless.

Finally, here’s the one big difference: hard seltzer water ferments sugars instead of barley. You hard-core alcohol know-it-alls will say, “hey, all alcohol comes from fermenting sugars DUH.” Yup, that’s true. And if we can get the sugars in beer from corn syrup, can’t we get it from another type of sugar?

Is hard seltzer water a type of beer?

No, it isn’t. I’ve been screwing with you the whole time.

Of course hard seltzer water isn’t beer! Just because something is alcoholic doesn’t mean it’s a beer. Yes, the line separating beer and literally any other alcoholic drink is constantly getting blurrier, and some day we may have a hard seltzer-beer crossover (are you taking notes, AB-InBev?)

Until that fateful day comes, we can separate the two. But hey, I still love these seltzers, and this was the perfect excuse to write about them.

Is hard seltzer healthy?

No, of course hard seltzer isn’t healthy. It’s alcohol.

That being said: yes, slamming seltzer water is healthier than chugging porters. Hard seltzers usually range from 100-125 calories, which isn’t too far off from low-calorie beers. But most beers are a higher calorie count.

Also worth noting is that hard seltzers have less sugar in them than beer. What?! Really?! Yes, really. Just because alcoholic seltzer uses sugar doesn’t mean it’s a sugary drink. The yeast in the fermentation process breaks down the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Of course there will be sugars leftover, but hard seltzers happen to have fewer leftover sugars than beer.

I can confirm that hard seltzer is healthy for the soul, though. That’s one reason to drink them.

Related: 4 Beer Cocktails for Every Beer Drinker

Thomas Short
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