San Juan Seltzer, with five flavors of hard seltzer, is produced by Schooner Brewery in Seattle. (San Juan Seltzer)

San Juan Seltzer, with five flavors of hard seltzer, is produced by Schooner Brewery in Seattle. (San Juan Seltzer)

Drink this: Everett brewery gets in on the new hard seltzer craze

Lazy Boy Brewing recently made a 10-gallon pilot batch of a coconut and lime spiked sparkling water.

In this new world of low-sugar, no-carb dieting, sugary sodas and juices have lost favor. Diet sodas, the old favorite of many trying to make a healthy choice, are out as well.

Into that void has stepped sparkling water. La Croix. Polar. Bubly. Over the past few years, the sparkling water craze has swept the country. And just like any fad in beverages, the spiked, or alcoholic, version isn’t far behind.

If you’ve visited your local grocery beer aisle lately, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the many hard seltzer brands crowding the shelves. White Claw, Bon & Viv and Truly are some of the national brands. Locally, San Juan Seltzer, Sound Seltzer and Day Fade are all brewed at Washington brewery facilities.

Think of them as wine coolers for the wellness generation.

Not one to miss out on the next big thing, Shawn Loring, owner of Lazy Boy Brewing in Everett, is jumping into the act. Even if it is on a small scale. Loring recently partnered with Craig Davidson to brew a small 10-gallon pilot batch of a coconut and lime hard seltzer.

Davidson, a longtime customer and friend, is lending Loring his 10-gallon Spike Brewing brew system to make the test batches.

“You can’t make a mistake on 500 gallons, but you can on 10,” Davidson said. “If it works it works, but if it doesn’t then we can just dump it. The hope is that this does take off, and we can scale it up from there.”

The early results are promising. The version brewed by Loring and Davidson is light and refreshing. The two used coconut water and 4 pounds of fresh limes to flavor the sparkling beverage, which is really just sugar, water and champagne yeast, with any adjuncts added for flavor. I tasted the non-carbonated version, and it’s less sweet and a tad more dry than the other hard seltzers I’ve tried.

Sound Craft Seltzer Co. offers three flavors of spiked sparkling waters: grapefruit, rose and cucumber. (Sound Craft Seltzer Co.)

Sound Craft Seltzer Co. offers three flavors of spiked sparkling waters: grapefruit, rose and cucumber. (Sound Craft Seltzer Co.)

The coconut lime hard seltzer will go on tap on Wednesday at Lazy Boy.

“We’ll see what the reaction is in the tasting room and go from there,” Loring said. “I’d say right now we’re planning on it being on tap through the summer.”

Like the regular seltzer craze, the hard seltzer craze is fueled by the health conscious. Most hard seltzers are less than 4.0 percent ABV, 100 calories and just a couple of grams of carbohydrates. That’s about half the ABV, calories and carbs found in a run-of-the-mill beer. It’s the same reason Michelob Ultra at 2.6 carbohydrates and 95 calories has becomes something of a fan favorite for workout warriors who want to keep beer in their diet.

Davidson said he started taking notice of the clear, sparking “hard” beverages when he saw his daughter and all of her friends drinking them.

“They want something healthy, but they also want a little fun in their life,” Davidson said.

“Plus, you can also drink a couple of them and not get bombed,” Loring added.

The numbers bare it out. Like the hard cider explosion before it, the hard seltzer market has undergone dynamic growth in a short period of time. While craft beer sales have either flattened or dipped slightly over the past two years, hard seltzer has gone from $8 million in sales nationwide three years ago to just under $500 million in 2018.

“I see a market,” Loring said. “We’re always on the lookout for the next big thing, and right now that’s hard seltzer.”

Loring said he plans for the hard seltzer to be on draft only for now. He’s not ruling out canning eventually, but right now sees an opportunity in the market, especially for watering holes to use hard seltzer on draft as a mixer in cocktails.

Taste test

I’m a beer guy. But I put my bias aside and tried some local hard seltzers for research. First up, I tasted San Juan Seltzer’s Huckleberry. Made at Schooner Brewing (formerly Schooner Exact Brewing), San Juan Seltzer is crisp and refreshing, but I found the berry flavor to be cloying and a bit fake.

Next up, I tried Sound Seltzer’s Cucumber. Made by Seattle’s Two Beers/Seattle Cider, Sound Seltzer actually uses fermented fruit juice instead of flavoring. The difference was notable. The cucumber hard seltzer was bright but the flavor was muted, almost in the background, and it tasted like real cucumbers. It was like a wine spritzer, not a La Croix with vodka added.

To be honest, that’s about all I could muster. I’d say both were better than my recollections of Zima, which is a malted beverage.

Talk to us

More in Life

Owners Kim and Larry Harris at Bayernmoor Cellars on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
World-class wine, from grapes grown right here

Bayernmoor Cellars makes award-winning pinot noir from grapes grown at its vineyard northeast of Stanwood.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Drink This: 5 Snohomish breweries to host Smash and Dash

Each brewery takes the same base IPA recipe and then dry hops the beer with a different hop. Try them all.

Golden shakshuka

Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Golden Shakshuka is just the thing for a weekend brunch

This easy Middle Eastern egg dish is made with yellow bell peppers and yellow cherry tomatoes.

Don Sarver, left, and Kyle James, right, snowshoe on the Skyline Lake Trail on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 in Leavenworth, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Avoiding avalanches: How to know and where to go

Follow these tips for researching on-the-ground conditions from comfort of your home or local library.

(Getty Images)
You voted: The best Chinese food in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

The parenting journey takes you on an adventurous path at each stage of your child’s development. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Growing up: The ages and stages of raising your children

One minute your child is the baby in your arms, and the next minute, they’ve just landed their first job.

James Myles walks his 5-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ellie around Martha Lake Park on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Lynnwood, Washington. Myles entered Ellie into a contest called Americas Favorite Pet, where she's currently in 2nd place for her group. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Vote for Ellie: Fluffy corgi from Lynnwood vying for top dog

“Her Fluffiness” is competing to be America’s Favorite Pet. The contest raised $300,000 for PAWS last year.

The 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo produces up to 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. (Manufacturer photo)
Turbo power comes to Mazda’s Mazda3 compact for 2021

Ride, handling and cabin quality were already a given. Performance can now be added to the mix.

Most Read