The Booze Street Journal: Alcoholic Seltzer is a Thing

As the summer has gone on, I have been hearing more and more about alcoholic seltzer. Like most people, I had no idea what this was. It seemed almost like a pre-made vodka and soda when I first heard about it. As I dug further though, I found out it is something a bit different.

Let’s jump right into this sparkly situation.

How to produce an alcoholic seltzer

So as I mentioned previously, I first thought that someone could make a boozy seltzer by combining vodka and seltzer. This is still true to some extent. It is super easy to cut the vodka with some seltzer, especially if you live in seltzer country (aka within 50 miles of Polar). However, it won’t quite be the same as a spiked seltzer.

The way the commercial spiked seltzer companies do it is something similar to the brew process for beer. They first start with water and add sugar to it. The brewers then add yeast to it, using that sugar in the water to provide food for the yeast. Quick note, yeast is a living organism so it needs food to live. Yeast eats sugar and produces lactic acid, a bit of hydrogen gas, CO2, and ethanol (alcohol).

So the seltzer brewer ferments this sugar-water mix to produce an alcohol base similar to beer. The next step is to add the fruit-taste to the mixture. Most of the commercial labels will use natural fruit juices as well as some other acids to balance the taste of their beverage. The brewer then will force carbonate the mixture, similar to how regular seltzer is carbonated. And there you go! Boozy seltzer.

Great, but what is Alcoholic Seltzer?

Most spiked seltzer that I have found has about 5-6% ABV, similar to a beer. However, it is not a beer. A beer uses a barley base whereas a seltzer bypasses the barley and starts with sugar, water and yeast.

From there, it simply tastes like a seltzer. Now, I do not know what it’s like for all adult seltzers. I’m having my first one ever as I’m writing so my experience is limited. However, some people out there did the heavy lifting already.

From what I have deduced on my own though, alcoholic seltzer is pretty good. It is light and bubbly, like regular seltzer. Most alcoholic seltzer brands promote themselves as a healthy booze, combining good taste with alcohol and low caloric content. And I have to say, it seems like they hit their mark. Good for a hot summer day/night when it’s time to get to it but you don’t want to drink something heavy. Seltzer.

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