What is Hard Seltzer?


Hard seltzer, spiked seltzer, alcoholic seltzer – whatever you call it, it’s more than just a tasty low calorie alternative to beer. You’ve likely seen ads for hard seltzer or have maybe even tried a fizzy lime or grapefruit canned cocktail for yourself. Popular hard seltzer brands include:

  • Viv Spiked Seltzer
  • Truly Hard Seltzer
  • White Claw Hard Seltzer
  • Topo Chico Hard Seltzer
  • Vizzy Hard Seltzer

Our hard seltzer brand comparison guide highlights calories, carbs, alcohol content and sugar for top brand.

So, how does spiked seltzer differ from other alcoholic drinks like beer, vodka or wine? For starters, hard seltzer combines seltzer water with alcohol and fruit flavoring. The alcohol is typically produced by fermenting cane sugar or malted barley. Learn more about the alcohol in a hard seltzer.

It’s not only newer brands slinging tasty hard seltzer drinks, even the largest beer brands can’t ignore the new found excitement. For the moment, spiked seltzer looks to be taking the spotlight away from light beer. For a matter of fact, Truly Hard Seltzer is produced by Boston Beer – the parent company of Sam Adams. It seems like just about everyone these days is taking some carbonated water, adding some flavor and rolling out a new hard seltzer.

In 2020, the hard seltzer market was over $4B, with retail store sales increasing by over 160 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to Bump Williams Consulting, the industry leader for alcohol category numbers.

How is Hard Seltzer Made?

As with any alcoholic beverage (including your favorite bottle of wine), the key to its boozy nature lies in the fermentation process. That’s when yeast consumes any sugars that are present and converts them into alcohol. In winemaking, those sugars come from harvested grapes. For hard seltzer, it typically comes from straight-up fermented cane sugar. It could also come from malted barley, although technically that would make it a flavored malt beverage like Smirnoff Ice. 

Is Hard Seltzer Gluten Free?

Most alcohol seltzers are gluten-free, but if you see the words “malt,” “barley malt,” or “malted” anywhere on the label, it has gluten.

How much alcohol is in Hard Seltzer?

The alcohol content of most spiked seltzers falls in the range of 4-6% alcohol by volume (ABV) — about the same as light beer — although some can be as high as 12% ABV, which is the same amount as the standard five-ounce serving of wine.

Lower alcohol also means fewer calories. Most hard seltzers come in 12-ounce cans and hover around the 100-calorie mark. The amount of sugar varies from brand to brand, but you’ll usually find the most popular hard seltzer brands touting their low-sugar content, which tends to be no more than 3 grams of sugar per serving. 

Popular hard seltzer flavors

The hard seltzer industry continues to roll out new flavors, whether it be pina colada or a classic like lemon lime. No matter what your favorite hard seltzer drink is, there is no shortage of flavors. That is another benefit of spiked seltzer over beer – the options. Beer can start all tasting the same after a while but with alcoholic seltzer the fruity flavor keeps consumers going back. Some of the most popular hard seltzer flavors are:

  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Black Cherry
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapple
  • Passion Fruit

What’s your favorite fruit flavored spiked seltzer?

Now that you know what hard seltzer is, you’re prepared to be the life of the party with these fun facts! You may even be dubbed a Seltzer Snob by party goers..cheers to that.



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  1. Why do you keep posted about alcoholic seltzer’s when there is a myriad of non alcoholic setlzers that are refreshing, thirst quenching, and a healthier options. Asking for a friend

    1. Thanks for the feedback Lermon, and we agree with you! Look for some great content on non-hard seltzers in the near future.

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