Home » Brew Time » Spiked Seltzer vs. Beer

Spiked Seltzer vs. Beer

Last Friday I attended the SU football game against Pitt and had a super fun time hanging out with friends, tailgating, and generally enjoying being at home in the Dome. During halftime, (which also happens to be alcoholic beverage cut-off time), we booked it to our nearest watering hole to grab our second half drinks and all gathered back together for some chit-chat before heading back to our seats. I was asked by one of the guys what I was drinking, to which I replied “Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, one of my go-to’s,” and then proceeded to swing my thumb over to my date for the evening and say, “and this b*tch is drinking White Claw!” Needless to say, it was definitely one of my finer moments as everyone roared with laughter at his expense.

All laughing and continual weekend harassment aside, spiked (or hard) seltzer seems to be the new beverage of choice that everyone seems to be drinking. (And I’ll admit, I may even have a couple of them in my fridge at home.) So, what is spiked seltzer? How does it compare to beer? And is it even really that good?

Spiked seltzer first started being produced in 2012. The brand SpikedSeltzer (so original) was the first company have skin in the game and eventually was sold to Anheuser- Busch InBev in 2016. In the interim plenty of other alcohol companies jumped on the band-wagon to produce and sell their own versions, including the Boston Beer Co., (the same company that makes Sam Adams beer), and their creation Truly Spiked & Sparkling.

Traditional beer is mainly created with malted barley, while spiked seltzer is mainly created from fermented cane sugar with infusion of carbonated water, fruits and different flavors. The end result is an alcoholic beverage that is light, crisp & bubbly, reminiscent of champagne that is also low in sugar and subsequently, calories. It’s a great option for those watching their waistlines. A typical spiked seltzer is around the 100-calorie mark. In comparison, craft beers can be 4 times that amount(!), but light beers such as Michelob Ultra, Miller Light, and Coors Light clock in right around 100 calories too; so, take your pick! The alcohol content of spiked seltzer is usually more than a light beer. We’re talking somewhere between 5-7% ABV, while a light beer of approximately the same calorie content is around 3-5% ABV and craft beers can be upwards of 7-10% ABV. To boot, the majority of spiked seltzers are also gluten-free.

It’s also a skyrocketing industry. In 2018 alone, per The Observer, manufacturers made over 500 million dollars in net profits and profits are projected to grow to 2.5 billion dollars by 2021 by UBS analytics. It’s also appearing to outsell beer and hard cider in the market as a whole. In fact, this past July, White Claw claimed to outsell every beer company, including the big one, Budweiser! Therefore, it appears that spiked seltzer is here to stay.

Prepress Print

Interestingly enough, spiked seltzer seems to be getting as creative as the craft beer industry when it comes to offering consumers something new and different for their ever-inquisitive palates. Perusing your local grocery store shelves or simply doing a Google search online, you can discover unique flavors such as Grapefruit Cardamom by Press, Pear Elderflower by Bon & Viv, Guava Lime by Corona Refresca, Blueberry & Acai by Truly, and Lemon Agave Hibiscus by Wild Basin. Of course, there are also the simpler flavors of watermelon, mixed berry, and black cherry among others to choose from; but the options are essentially endless!

There is also a common theory that spiked seltzer is a “better” or “healthier” choice of an alcoholic beverage because it hydrates you as you drink it. This is a partial myth. Alcohol itself is a diuretic, meaning, just because you’re drinking “water” it’s still going to give you the same effect of needing to “break the seal” and pee. Therefore, you still need to have a regular glass of water in between White Claws or grab yourself a Gatorade before bed after a big night out. Still, spiked seltzer can ultimately be considered a healthier option for people looking to imbibe without the added calories that many alcoholic beverages provide. Just be careful because it doesn’t take much to swig a few of these in a relatively short amount of time, and ultimately you may end up consuming more than you otherwise would with a beer or two.

Personally, I have had spiked seltzer and many of my girlfriends (and a few guys that I know) enjoy them. I think that the flavors are actually quite good, and while I prefer craft beer to just about everything, sometimes it’s nice to switch things up every now and then. If you haven’t tried spiked seltzer up to this point, pick up a pack at your local grocer or convenience store. You never know, it might be a new drink to add to your list of preferred alcoholic beverages! Cheers!

Kristin Merritt
Just a brief introduction that I’ve joined the Table Hopping crew as your new craft-brew-loving gal who will be bringing you your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope that I can give a few recommendations for your grocery lists, event suggestions and local hotspots for an afternoon out with friends or planning a date, and if not for nothing, perhaps enlighten you with some random knowledge that you can amaze your teammates with at trivia night – or at least give you and your pals a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! I have some mighty large shoes to fill that my friend and fellow Syracuse Women of Craft Beer member (& founder), Gloria Rakowsky, left for me, but I hope that my style (and shenanigans) will keep all y’all coming back for more each month. Cheers!