“Have you had this before?” I asked the employee at Liberty Beer, gesturing to the 12-pack of Pura Still spiked water on the counter between us. “Is it good?” The cashier’s long pause told me everything. It was not good.
Produced by New York-based Genesee Brewery, Pura Still, the nation’s first alcoholic still water, premiered in December 2018. The brewery capitalized on the nation’s growing hard-seltzer obsession, showing the world that there’s truly no limit to what can be made alcoholic.
Each can of Pura Still racks up under 100 calories and two grams of carbohydrates — it’s only 4.5 percent alcohol per volume — less than the average beer pour, which carries around 150 calories. The water caters to health-conscious drinkers (who just realized how many calories are packed in one beer), those looking for something with a little less alcohol, and anyone who hates bloating-by-carbonation.
The drink is made from a malt alcohol base. It’s a similar process to brewing beer, but without the hops and color. Pura Still combines fermented barley and natural sugars to make the base, then triple-filters the alcohol (like distilling vodka) to make the product crystal clear. Add a splash of coconut water, an undetectable fruit flavor, and boom! You can get tipsy while simulating the act of hydration.
Liberty Beer in Bloomfield only carried the Pura Still variety pack, so I was able to get my hands on all three flavors: mango, blackberry, and mandarin orange.
Pura Still describes its product as “the first spiked water that doesn’t need bubbles to keep things interesting,” and “anything but flat,” (spoiler: it’s definitely flat). And after tasting the product, the company should really rethink the "still" part of Pura Still. Canned alcohol without carbonation may be novel, but the result is just disappointing.
Drinking it felt like a mistake, as if I had accidentally picked up a day-old, already-opened soda off of my kitchen counter. There was nothing to distract me from all the weird flavors coming out of the drink: fake fruit mixed with a strange sour aftertaste of fermented barley.
The mandarin orange can tasted like orange-flavored chalk from a children’s aspirin. As many times as I tried the blackberry, I could only taste a whisper of berry. Mango was by far the best flavor ("best" used very loosely here). At one point, I even combined all three flavors to see if I could taste any fruit. I couldn’t.
My advice? If you’re looking for a low-calorie drink, stick to vodka and soda.