If you were like myself, this is the question and answer that popped up when someone offered you your first White Claw. I never saw myself drinking them or even enjoying them but here I am.
What started it? Imagine your first beer, not the first beer you drank but the first time you tasted beer. Did you steal one from your parents? Brother? Did the cool aunt slide you one at your cousin’s wedding? Whatever the situation was, I could almost guarantee you weren’t about it. The first beer I tried was a high quality Miller Genuine Draft. It was in a black can if that generates any nostalgia.
Anyways, it was rough, I took one sip and wondered how anyone could drink this stuff. I had a similar feeling when I tried my first Bon & Viv a friend brought over before we went tailgating at the CU game. Why do people drink this stuff? Like any respectable alcohol appreciator, I put my shoulder down and finished it and we left for the tailgate. As we got there, I immediately reached for one of the IPAs I bought on the way and savored it. It was everything an IPA could be but when I finished it, I caught myself eyeing down my friend’s case of Bon & Viv. Out of no where I asked, “Yo, do you mind if I snag another one of those?” And that’s when everything changed.
After that game, I started walking by the Hard Seltzer Cooler at whatever liquor store I was in. Just to see what was there because you know, there was no way I could be seen purchasing a case of hard seltzer. Then one day, my buddy and I were at a small liquor store and I dropped the question, “Yo man, you ever try one of those White Claw things?” He responded with, “Yeah man, I mean they’re actually pretty good, should we buy one?” After a long discussion about how we’ve never bought a pack due to our friends making fun of us, we bought the pack of White Claw.
That’s where the everything came to fruition. All of our friends started buying them. When we went golfing, we were buying them. When we went hiking, we were buying them. When were chillin’ watching the game, we were buying them. But what about these alcoholic water beverages was so great? Well let me tell you.
Like most people these days, I am trying to eat and drink healthier. Eating healthier wasn’t a problem but removing alcohol was never going to happen (FYI, I only drink a few days a week so don’t go judging me yet). However, we all know how appealing an ice cold beer is. Yes there’s whiskey on the rocks and drinks of the like but when your with a group of friends, a beer or mixed drink is more of a norm. Hard Seltzer was the answer. At an average of 100 calories, 1 gram of sugar and 2 carbs, it is the perfect alternative to beer. But not only an alternative to beer but an alternative leading to a healthier life. The nutritional facts weren’t the only thing shifting my focus away from beer but it was the way I felt. I felt less full, felt more refreshed and at the same time was loosening up.
Now let’s get to what the common misconception is: Hard Seltzer is just a Vodka/Soda with some added flavors. Are people wrong about this? No. Are people right about this? No. There are many ways to craft Hard Seltzer.
One way is to just add vodka to soda water, and not just vodka but gin, whiskey and Tequila. In fact, companies such as Ranch Rider have started making moves with their “Ranch Water”, an inspired low calorie Tequila & Lime Seltzer. When it comes to this process, it’s fairly simple in concept but like everything, there’s quality involved. I can’t speak for Ranch Rider but a majority of the companies that are producing these kind of beverages have a distillery at the helm. Companies such as The Heart Distillery have made Hard Seltzers by simply adding their craft spirits to seltzer and infusing them with natural ingredients.
The other way is to brew it. This is the way we brew our Hard Seltzer here at Elvtd. We take pure sugars and brew them in a similar way beer is produced. We heat water up, add our sugars and let them dissolve throughout the water. Once it’s all throughout the water, we cold crash it, add it to the fermenter and throw in the yeast. After about 12-15 days, we filter it like crazy then transfer it over to carbonate in our Brite Tank. In the Brite Tank, we add all natural and GMO free extracts to flavor them however we choose.
Now what I didn’t go into is the chemistry and products that go into it. That’s our secret but after brewing beer for 15+ years, my brother and I can tell you without hesitation that the margin of error is much lower with beer than it is seltzer. What makes great breweries great is constant quality. This takes a highly skilled Brewmaster to hit the chemical balances, flavors and profiles every time to give you the products you know and love. The amount of time and effort going into that should never go unnoticed.
Here’s the catch, it’s also really easy to hide off flavors. When you happen to get a little lactobacillus or brettanomyces in a batch there’s a few things you can do. One is to dump the batch and move on with your life. Two is to make money off the product and doctor up the batch. A great way to do this is to add fruit profiles such as citrus, berry or anything to compliment the off flavor. With Hard Seltzer, an off flavor literally kills the entire batch and can’t be hidden.
Another way to hide the quality of a product is over carbonation. When there’s more carbonation, there is less of an emphasis on the product itself. Given the purity of our products we have dialed down of carbonation level to bring out the quality of the ingredients we use. I like to compare it to La Croix’s carbonation level.
The moral of the story is that Hard Seltzer has made not only a difference in my brother and I’s life but a whole grip of people throughout the nation. What I thought was just alcoholic water is now what my brother and I do to make a living. It has evolved into something we are passionate about and love doing/promoting. We along with our amazing staff are Living Life Elvtd.
Written by: Warren Wood