Taste Test: Which hard seltzer bubbles to the top? | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Taste Test: Which hard seltzer bubbles to the top?

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MAGGIE WEAVER
CP photo: Maggie Weaver

Hard seltzer was the drink of 2019. This phenomenal rise of alcoholic, “better-for-you” bubbles was the reason the summer was named The Summer of White Claw, with the seltzer outselling major light beer companies through the season. 

Since The Claw blew up, there’s been a flood of brands hopping on the hard seltzer trend. But like any new fad flooded with options, this boom comes with a question: Which one is the best? 

With that in mind, I, along with a few Pittsburgh City Paper coworkers, ranked eight of the most popular hard seltzer brands.

8. Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer: Raspberry Rosé
If you’ve ever sipped from a can of soda left in a car overnight, you can imagine the exact flavor of Smirnoff’s seltzer. It’s bad. Someone needs to remind the company what both raspberries and rosé taste like, because this is not it.

7. Natty Light: Catalina Lime Mixer
Please stick to beer, Natty Light. Drinking this is akin to cherry cold medicine straight from the bottle. Don’t waste your time.

6. Arctic Summer: Raspberry Lime
Arctic Summer brought the bubbles (no surprise as its recipes are owned by Polar Seltzer), but no hint of fruit flavor. The can was quickly dubbed “100% trash.”

5. Bon & Viv: Grapefruit
Bon & Viv is strikingly bland. The grapefruit flavor is dull with an incredibly acidic aftertaste. Save your fridge space.

4. Truly: Lime
As one of the top-selling hard seltzer brands, I was surprised that Truly didn’t break into the top three. But it was simply unremarkable. The lime flavor was noticeably fake, making for a seltzer that was mediocre at best.

3. Wild Basin: Classic Lime
Wild Basin won its way into the top three with light bubbles and a subtle lime flavor, even though its kick of citrus carried the uncanny flavor of a lime jello salad. I was happy for something different, not just another can of synthetic citrus.

2.  Press: Lime and Lemongrass
The race for number one was close. Press — canned locally in Latrobe — had interesting flavors, like the lime and lemongrass, and managed to execute them without overdoing it. It was dropped to number two based on its low ABV (4%) and tendency to taste flat.

1. White Claw: Grapefruit
It’s true. White Claw — almost unanimously voted to the top — is the best hard seltzer out there. It has it all: a flavor you can actually taste and bubbles that stick around long enough to remember. White Claw is law, and don’t forget it.

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