Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve likely noticed that hard seltzers were the drink of the summer. Whether it was the titanic presence of White Claw or one of the many other new additions to the market, there was no avoiding this new, bubbly spectre. It was no surprise that soon after the drink’s meteoric rise, non-alcoholic hard seltzers started hitting the market in an attempt to lure in those of us who can’t enjoy the real deal. I was skeptical when I first saw these things on the shelves. After all, what’s the point of carbonated water if it doesn’t get you drunk? Was I supposed to just drink these things for the taste? The overall purpose eluded me, but it didn’t matter: the Hard Seltzer Wars had begun. I’ve done my best to sort through the best and worst of these new offerings so that if for some reason you decide to try them, you can make an informed decision. There’s no reason for sober people to be left out of the fun, but do any of these non-alcoholic seltzers distinguish themselves as worth the trouble? It’s time we found out.
Though the world of non-alcoholic hard seltzer is a new and limited one, La Croix has emerged as something of an industry leader. Hell, a friend told me he recently saw the stuff in his office breakroom. Kudos to the marketing team for the placement but I can’t help but think that the flavor of this particular product is a little lacking. Sure, the bubbles and the fruit flavoring are convincing, but there’s not even a hint of that vodka-adjacent tang that makes White Claw feel like Whiteclaw. If the goal is to make me feel like La Croix is going to get me drunk, it doesn’t reach it. There’s no illusion about it, this stuff is booze-free.
Try as it might, Perrier doesn’t make me feel like the type of person who could end up stealing a police horse tonight like a good hard seltzer should.”
If I were giving out points for presentation, Perrier would certainly take the lead with its striking green bottle and retro font but unfortunately, there are no bonus points for flash when there are this many options to choose from and Perrier just doesn’t cut it. Though the carbonation is strong, the taste can’t help but feel watered down. Even in the rare case that Perrier makes use of fruit flavoring, it still can’t measure up to the real thing. A good hard seltzer is crisp and fruity, sure, but it’s also the type of drink that fills you with a dangerous, unearned confidence. Try as it might, Perrier doesn’t make me feel like the type of person who could end up stealing a police horse tonight like a good hard seltzer should.
For the homebrewer in your life, a SodaStream might seem like a dream come true. With household ingredients and the simple press of a button, any drink can become a non-alcoholic seltzer. The convenience is definitely a draw, but the device itself is a lot of work for very little payoff. Sure, the machine comes with several flavor kits that you can use to give your seltzer some much-needed kick, but even then it leaves the drinker underwhelmed. There’s something to be said for the bragging rights that come with bringing a liter of non-alcoholic seltzer to a party and being able to confidently tell you friends that you made it yourself. For those looking to impress, SodaStream could end up being the perfect choice.
I was somewhat amused to find out that Tap Water, my municipal water treatment plant’s newest attempt to get into the non-alcoholic, unflavored, non-carbonated seltzer water game, was available in my own kitchen. Say what you will about the oversaturation of marketing but this promotion was definitely convenient. I just wish that the quality of the product matched. Tap Water is flavorless, boring, and perhaps most egregiously, unimaginative. There’s nothing fun about this stuff and frankly there’s no situation in which it’s worth the calories. There’s not a chance that I would ever even consider drinking this stuff again unless I absolutely had to. There’s no dancing around it, it’s just absolute swill. Straight-up garbage.
Top photo via Sue Telford on Pixabay.