Hard Seltzer

I swirl the clear bubbly drink around in my glass thoughtfully, take a sip and gag. It tastes as bad as it smells. 

A selection of Safeway's finest hard seltzers.

A selection of Safeway's finest hard seltzers.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

It’s a warm Tuesday evening, and I’ve somehow cajoled two SFGATE reporters and an actual certified sommelier into tasting an array of 2021’s hottest new hard seltzers. When Josh first arrived at fellow SFGATE reporter Michelle Robertson’s apartment for the tasting, he assured me that even though he’s a certified wine sommelier, he’s actually a big fan of spiked seltzers. 

Well, maybe before now. With six seltzers left to try, out of 18 total, morale has reached an all-time low. 

Since 2019’s infamous “White Claw Summer,” hard seltzers have become ubiquitous. Every big alcohol company has one, from Bud Light to Four Loko. Travis Scott has a seltzer. Gordon Ramsay has a seltzer. Sonic Drive-In has a seltzer?

Left to right, Reporter Dianne de Guzman, sommelier Josh Decolongon and reporter Madeline Wells taste hard seltzers.

Left to right, Reporter Dianne de Guzman, sommelier Josh Decolongon and reporter Madeline Wells taste hard seltzers.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

The market is so oversaturated, in fact, that it's causing “consumer confusion,” Boston Beer founder Jim Koch, the creator of Truly Hard Seltzer, told CNN Business. And it's making hard seltzer’s growth take a turn for the worse — Boston Beer’s shares plummeted 25% this past Friday.

Full disclosure: I love White Claws. Yes, they taste like if you were drinking carbonated water and someone screamed out loud the name of a specific fruit in the other room. But they are so inoffensive, so easy to drink. They taste like summer.

But despite my everlasting devotion to the Claw, I needed to branch out. I needed to see whether the endless cycle of beer companies and celebrities shamelessly capitalizing on the seltzer trend had actually succeeding in improving on the tried and true classic, or whether they were just lazy imitations. So I sent my colleagues to Safeway, where they hunted for as many hot, trendy new seltzer options as they could find.  

We ended up with a ridiculous number of variety packs: Cacti Agave Hard Seltzer (a collaboration between Anheuser Busch and Travis Scott), Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer (a new release from an OG seltzer brand) and Happy Dad (which was apparently made by some YouTubers who call themselves the Nelk Boys?). 

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with sommelier Josh Decolongon.

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with sommelier Josh Decolongon.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

We also snuck in a sole White Claw palate cleanser, you know, just for kicks — although I won’t include it in the ratings below because we only sampled the black cherry (which got a 4/5 rating, for the record). 

To avoid judging a book by its cover (Bud Light, I’m looking at you), we decided to make it a blind tasting. Our trusty sommelier was in charge, hiding the cans on the floor of Michelle’s living room and asking us to cover our eyes with each pour. 

We laughed, we cried, we triggered our gag reflexes. Here is what we found. 

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with sommelier Josh Decolongon.

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with sommelier Josh Decolongon.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

Happy Dad

Average rating: 1.4/5

Best flavor: Pineapple

Worst flavor: Wild Cherry

I’d like to have a word with the Nelk Boys. These seltzers are god awful. After taking a quick gander at the “history” portion of these YouTubers’ Wikipedia page and finding out their seltzer’s tagline is “NO MORE S—TY SKINNY CAN BULLS—T,” I wanted to hate them, but I’m happy to report that a completely blind tasting validated my suspicions. 

Happy Dad Hard Seltzer Variety 12pk 12oz Can 5.0% ABV Happy Dad Hard Seltzer Variety 12pk 12oz Can 5.0% ABV> Happy Dad Hard Seltzer Variety 12pk 12oz Can 5.0% ABV Happy Dad gopuff.com $19.99 Shop Now "> Shop Now

“If you've ever been intrigued by the scent of Windex, this is the seltzer for you,” said Josh of the lemon-lime. 

The watermelon flavor tasted like “B.O.” or “vanilla Coke water.” The wild cherry gave us notes of flavored fluoride and pumpkin spice bath bombs. The wild cherry, in fact, was so bad we had to take a long break after tasting it. 

SFGATE reporters Michelle Robertson and Dianne de Guzman consider the tasting notes of a hard seltzer.

SFGATE reporters Michelle Robertson and Dianne de Guzman consider the tasting notes of a hard seltzer.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

Average rating: 2.2/5

Best flavor: Black Cherry Lemonade

Worst flavor: Strawberry Lemonade

Apparently, lemonade is the newest hard seltzer trend, but too many of these Bud Light flavors just ended up tasting like 7 Up. 

Bud Light Peels Beer Variety Pack-Lime, Lemonade & Orange
Bud Light Peels Beer Variety Pack-Lime, Lemonade & Orange Bud Light instacart.com $12.48 Shop Now "> Shop Now

Poured into clear glasses, they had an off-putting cloudy appearance. The original flavor tasted like a melted sour gummy worm, the black cherry reminded us of a doctor’s office, the strawberry tasted like cotton candy at a kid’s party, and the peach “smelled like disappointment,” according to my colleague Dianne. 

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with sommelier Josh Decolongon.

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with sommelier Josh Decolongon.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

Cacti Agave Hard Seltzer

Average rating: 2.9/5

Best flavor: Pineapple

Worst flavor: Lime

Travis Scott’s agave-based seltzer gave us some high highs and some low lows. The pineapple, which had some “interestingness,” in Michelle’s words, boasted an aggressive pineapple flavor with strong carbonation and a “bitter pineapple rind moment to it, which keeps it real,” Josh said. 

CACTI Agave Hard Seltzer Variety Pack, Gluten Free, 9 Pack, 12 FL OZ Slim Cans CACTI Agave Hard Seltzer Variety Pack, Gluten Free, 9 Pack, 12 FL OZ Slim Cans> CACTI Agave Hard Seltzer Variety Pack, Gluten Free, 9 Pack, 12 FL OZ Slim Cans Cacti walmart.com $17.27 Shop Now "> Shop Now

But the lime flavor paled in comparison — the worst iteration of the medicinal-tasting 7 Up “lemon-lime BS” flavor we’d come to loathe at this point in the tasting.

aside">> Most Popular
  1. Lately, an escape to Tahoe feels like a frightening glimpse of the future
  2. Mark Wahlberg Is a Dad Who Bonds With His Dead Gay Son (Over Lady Gaga Lyrics)
  3. Bacon may disappear in California as pig rules take effect
  4. Standoff at Tokyo airport after Belarus Olympian refuses to leave over fears for her life
  5. TikTok star second to die in California theater 'Purge' shooting
  6. 16-year-old girl killed, woman injured in San Francisco shooting
  7. Sharks' Kane denies game-fixing allegations from wife

“It tastes like they used lime garnishes they used for gin and sodas at the sticky part at the back of the bar,” said Josh. 

“It smells like puke,” I wrote in my notes. 

Sommelier Josh Decolongon and SFGATE reporter Madeline Wells taste hard seltzers.

Sommelier Josh Decolongon and SFGATE reporter Madeline Wells taste hard seltzers.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer

Average rating: 3.3/5

Best flavor: Cucumber Lime

Worst flavor: Spicy Pineapple

Michelob was the dark horse of this tasting, presenting us with some inventive flavors that were genuinely refreshing. The cucumber lime gave us spa vibes (“makes me feel at peace,” I wrote). The peach pear was lively and perfumed in a good way, like “peach ring candies liquefied,” said Josh.

Michelob ULTRA Organic Hard Seltzer, Variety Pack, Slim Cans
Michelob ULTRA Organic Hard Seltzer, Variety Pack, Slim Cans Michelob ULTRA instacart.com $20.69 Shop Now "> Shop Now

The spicy pineapple, however, disappointed us a little with its lack of spiciness. And its bark was worse than its bite: while smelling intensely of pineapple, it tasted of little at all. More like “water with a hint of pineapple,” said Michelle. 

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with SF sommelier Josh Decolongon.

SFGATE reporters do a blind tasting of hard seltzers with SF sommelier Josh Decolongon.

Mariah Tiffany/Special to SFGATE

Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer 

Average rating: 3.6/5

Best flavor: Peach

Worst flavor: Strawberry

It pains me to present Truly Iced Tea as the highest-rated seltzer we tried, because in this case, I was the sole dissenting voice among my fellow tasters. To me, each flavor was cloying, a sweet tea with an exclamation point after the sweet. But this tasting was a democracy, so I give you my colleagues’ unfiltered comments. 

TRULY Hard Seltzer Lemon Iced Tea, Spiked & Sparkling Water TRULY Hard Seltzer Lemon Iced Tea, Spiked & Sparkling Water> TRULY Hard Seltzer Lemon Iced Tea, Spiked & Sparkling Water TRULY drizly.com Shop Now "> Shop Now

This was the one hard seltzer we tried that wasn’t clear — instead, it was a dark orange, the color of actual iced tea. 

“21-year-old me would like it,” said Dianne of the strawberry flavor. (“Yuck,” I wrote.)

“This is the tea you can get your grandma drunk on,” said Michelle of the lemon flavor. (“Yuck,” I wrote.)

“This has a complex peachiness to me,” said Josh. “Tastes ... comforting.” (“Yuck,” I wrote.)

---

In conclusion: White Claw forever.

More Food + Drink

- SF bar says staff berated over vaccination requirement daily

- I was not a fan of In-N-Out. Then I came here.

- Bizarre 'cult-like' Napa job posting goes viral

- Gavin Newsom's SF wine shop has been broken into. Again.

- More SF businesses requiring vaccine proof: Here's what to know

Source : https://www.sfgate.com/bars/article/SF-sommelier-hard-seltzer-tasting-ranking-best-16335744.php

6022
An SF sommelier led us through a hard seltzer tasting. This is what we learned.

Source:SFGate

An SF sommelier led us through a hard seltzer tasting. This is what we learned.

Why hard seltzer is still Americas it drink

Source:AOL

Why hard seltzer is still Americas it drink

Should Molson and Anheuser-Busch Investors Brace for More Bad News on Hard Seltzer?

Source:The Motley Fool

Should Molson and Anheuser-Busch Investors Brace for More Bad News on Hard Seltzer?

Warheads Just Came Out With A Hard Seltzer, And Yes, It’s Sour

Source:Yahoo

Warheads Just Came Out With A Hard Seltzer, And Yes, It’s Sour

As Hard Seltzer Interest Wanes, Hard Kombucha Gains Momentum

Source:Forbes

As Hard Seltzer Interest Wanes, Hard Kombucha Gains Momentum