What do you get when you mix malt, yeast, water, and hops? Here’s a hint: It’s not beer.
Fulton Beer launched its line of hard seltzer in mid-2019 with your typical range of berry and citrus flavors, but it broke the selzer mold this January when it released Hopped! Dosed with the same hops Fulton uses in its beer line, Hopped! is nearly beer, except it’s gluten-free, crystal clear, and, well, not beer. But it’s close.
It feels pretty silly to judge a seltzer on appearance. Hopped! could be Clearly Canadian for all its hyper-carbonated glory. That’s great if you’re trying to go incognito at the dinner party—not that you’d ever drink this out of a glass.
Hopped! may have hops like a beer, but it does not smell like a beer. Much like Fulton’s hopped sparkling water, the nose is beguiling. There’s a definite ethanol aroma, but that’s overcome by bright key lime notes and a very faint herbal wash. It’s somewhere between gin and ginger beer, with juniper and coriander being the closest comparison.
Hopped! proves one thing unquestionably: There is a ton of room in the craft seltzer market for innovation.”
Hard seltzer is so often undone by its acidity and sweetness, which make it so much less sessionable than light beer and thus contrary to its very existence. In Fulton’s rendition, the hops, though subtle, feel like a genius stroke for how they quell the drink’s two greatest problems. It’s impossible to identify the strain on taste alone, but the anonymity leaves things uncomplicated and fun. It’s like a lime La Croix but with a pleasant dryness tacked onto the end.
Hopped! proves one thing unquestionably: There is a ton of room in the craft seltzer market for innovation. Now that so many breweries have gotten into the bubbly stuff, it’s launches like Hopped! that are gonna help Fulton stand apart from competitors. It’s hard to think that seltzer could ever outpace beer in terms of sheer imagination, especially when its best tricks are being cribbed from the beer world, but this is a progressive move for the category.