We Braved Seltzerland, a Traveling Festival Devoted to Hard Seltzers
Two editors, three hours and 100 flavors of hard seltzers later, our thoughts on the world of White Claw competitors
A 40-something whiskey snob and a proud Gen-Zer walk into a hard seltzer tasting event …
Not a joke. That scenario between two InsideHook editors (one half the age and half as pretentious as the other) happened on August 7th in Brooklyn. Here, we entered Seltzerland, a national touring event from Cannonball Productions that promised 100 flavors of hard seltzer over a two-plus-hour period, starting at the unfathomable hour of 11 a.m.
Don’t get me (old guy) wrong — while I like expensive whiskey, I will drink plenty of RTDs and hard seltzers. So it wasn’t the nature of the drinks that worried me, it was the format. Could I drink dozens of flavors of White Claw competitors in 1-2 oz pours?
Thankfully, the event itself was spread out in the Brooklyn Expo Center (both inside and out), lines were relatively short and, between the two of us, we managed to try almost everything and still leave the venue relatively clear-headed a few hours later. And along the way, we tasted some really interesting drinks, which we’ll highlight below.
And, of course, some we hope to never try again (looking at you, strawberry seltzer with Fireball chaser).
One quick thought: While everyone seems to be getting into the hard seltzer game, the genre may have already hit a peak earlier this year. At this point, name brand recognition and/or quality may win out, leaving a lot of newcomers and brands that occupy the middle ground scrambling.
A young woman in front of us — the event was about 60% women and primarily under-30 — summed it up best when she discussed her post-Seltzerland plans.
“We’re meeting at a bar,” she said. “I think at that point we’ll be seltzer-ed out.”
A few seltzers from Seltzerland that both of us liked:
These “premium alcohol seltzers” keep winning Seltzerland’s post-event favorites poll amongst attendees, and for good reason — the woman-owned brand, which predates the current seltzer craze by a few years — keeps the ABV low (4%) with the unique fruit/spice flavor pairings at the forefront. I very much embraced the ideas of Lingonberry Elderflower and Pineapple Basil.
Vizzy touts “antioxidant Vitamin C” on its cans. Superfruit-enhanced or not, I simply found these straight-forward hard seltzers to be light, fruity and refreshing, with the two-flavor mixes (e.g. raspberry lemonade) acting copacetic.
“Asian Americana in a can,” as they advertise. Utilizing ingredients from Asia, these refreshing tipples feature plum, lychee and yuku as their center. Also, bonus points for the owners/creators being at the event and talking to everyone about their passion.
While the Philly-born craft hard seltzer brand may have been robbed twice, they still managed to produce and launch an all-natural line of hard seltzers, now featuring seven tasty flavors like Black Cherry Lemon (their best-seller) and Raspberry Lime. Each can is made with zero sugar, zero concentrate and decorated with unique, colorful artwork from UK-based artist Jonny Mowat.
Two Roads Brewing Company made their entry into the hard seltzer space back in 2019 with H2 Roads, but this past March launched a new line of 7% ABV Ready-to-Drink vodka cocktails. Using 100% real fruit juice, Daybreaker Vodka Cocktails come in three flavors: Cran-Lime, Blood Orange and Meyer Lemonade. If we had to choose between a Mike’s Hard Lemonade Seltzer and a Meyer Lemonade Daybreaker, we’d 100% pick the latter.
Another line of RTD cocktails, SESH is, according to the complimentary koozies they gave out, “all flavor, no bullsh*t.” And they’re not lying. The brand’s Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, Mojito and Paloma are just as flavorful as the classic cocktails, just with a dash of refreshing seltzer and zero sugar.
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