Despite emerging in 2019 to define the 'Summer of Seltzer', boozy seltzers aren't exactly new, with the first examples having hit shelves 6 to 7 years ago. The last few years have seen an astonishing triple-digit growth rate within the sector, with Nielsen stating sales surpassed the billion dollar mark last year.
In general hard seltzers are mildly fruity, fizzy alcoholic drinks that come in cans. Averaging about 4% - 5% ABV, much like a standard lager, but don't require added sugars and often contain under 100 calories as a result. With many consumers increasingly health conscious, it's therefore easy to see the appeal of hard seltzers.
In simple terms a hard seltzer has three main ingredients; water, alcohol and flavourings. The alcohol content in a hard seltzer often comes from a process of fermentation using brewed cane sugar or malted grains. Brewers add carbonation and then whatever flavourings they choose to finish the drink. Since hard seltzer is a brewed alcoholic beverage, rather than a spirit and mixer, it makes perfect sense that beer and cider brands have been so quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Another thing that many brands have in common, particularly in the case of craft seltzers, is modern and highly visual branding and youth appeal. Think on-trend colours, monochrome, short ingredient lists and fresh minimalist designs. No doubt about it, these cans and cases are designed to be held with pride - rather than shamefully shoved into a paper bag.
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