It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
As veteran (do you prefer old?) beer drinkers we're used to seeing style trends come and go.
In the past several decades of craft beer., We tasted and sometimes enjoyed everything from
fruited sours to pastry stouts to IPA substyles. But to me there is something about the hard
seltzer trend that seems different, perhaps even risky and foolish to ignore. I think it's a whole
new animal, a marked departure from what brewers are accustomed to. Sales statistics prove
there is a tsunami of ever growing demand for it. Throw in the explosion of breweries and you
have more competition than ever before in the marketplace. Because of that I'm seeing many
craft brewers albeit reluctantly beginning to make the stuff, to operate outside their comfort
zone–to adapt and evolve to meet the rising tide of requests for this bubbly, flavor-kissed (if
Of course, with any new trend, there are naysayers, Yes, I'm usually one ofthem as you know.
Which reminds me, you never admitted I was right on saying Brut IPA would be gone before
you even knew it was here. I'm proud to be part of the group that scoffs at the notion of hard
seltzer. After all, it contains no grain or (in most cases) hops–though brewing methods can
vary, Essentially the process involves dissolving sugar into boiling water, fermenting the sugar
into alcohol, and infusing flavoring and carbonation after the fact. I know that seltzers are
gluten-free and relatively low in calories–two factors driving the beverage's popularity, but I still
don't get it...
Like many hard seltzer doubters in the industry itself, my biggest issues with hard seltzer are
philosophical. It just feels like a big divergence from some of the principles that made craft
beer special in the first place. It’s almost like we’re forgetting some of the lessons we had to
learn 30 years ago. Craft is, about doing something different and unique instead of chasing
trends. Craft as an industry did not get to where it is by copying the big brewers who have
made seltzer a ubiquitous commodity. II think craft brewers may be better off to just focus on
the things they do really well that makes them stand out.
I don’t believe in taking sugar and dissolving it in water and calling it brewing. I don’t believe in
handing something like that to a customer with the same enthusiasm as a well-crafted beer.
And no, do not send me a six pack of that stuff after reading this. .
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!
Hello Gina -
Something tells me you just went to our two favorite local breweries and both were pouring their
own seltzers. I have to admit I knew about that but didn't dare tell you knowing how you might
react. Now don't worry Gina, hard seltzer will not take over the drinking world just yet.
First I ask you to look outside our own selfish interests. We both want or breweries to make
great beer even if some might even call us purists and geeks about it. The fact of the matter is
that breweries are business and have to make a profit. To do that they must listen to and
respect customer demand. If people want hard seltzers, and it seems they do, than a brewer
should make them even if only to protect their bottom line.
Think about all the crazy beers we seen and tasted. Brewers are running to Walmart and filling
their cart with Fruity Pebbles, glazed donuts, pies, Peeps, chocolate chip cookies, and dozens
of other non-traditional (sometimes I can be diplomatic you see) for their next IPA, stout or
mystery brew. With all that going on it's hard to single out and complain about hard seltzer.,
While I agree with you that the ingredient list for hard seltzers may be straightforward and, to be
honest, simple, some brewers have found making one still presents significant challenges.
There you go rolling your eyes again. Seriously Gina, there is a thin window for fermentation
and a relative lack of flavors to mask flaws in seltzer. More than one brewer has told me they
had to dump test batches down the drain. Even for the experienced craft brewer making a
seltzer can be a challenge as it puts them in uncharted territory.
If a brewery serves hard seltzer in their tasting room it will likely bring in many new people and
that's a good thing. Also consider that even a sophistiated beer drinker may sometimes want a
drink that’s not beer though not too often. I see no problem with the brewery offering an
alternative product that shows off their creativity and skill.
While we may not be hard cider drinkers their fans come from all over. I saw one survey that
said 53% come from the beer segments:(25% of sales are by light beer drinkers, 11% from
domestic drinkers (such as Budweiser), 9% from craft beer drinkers and 8% from imported beer
drinkers).The rest comes from a mix of wine and spirits drinkers (25%), flavored malt beverage
drinkers (9%) and cider drinkers (3%).
I think your right in that this is not a fad like wine coolers. Zima. or Not Your Father’s Root Beer.
Ah,Zima, does that bring back some memories, right Gina? Just kidding. In my opinion, whether
we like it or not, seltzer is the new light beer that will never go away and will probably continue
to do well — even when the next big thing pops up. Just remember Gina, there will always be a
segment of people who want something with alcohol that is effortless to drink
Here's looking at you, Gina.