It's Time Someone Said It: Hard Seltzer Just Isn't Good

Amanda Mull charts America's slowly waning obsession with the beverage
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2022 2:05 PM CDT
It's Time Someone Said It: Hard Seltzer Just Isn't Good
   (Getty Images / marcouliana)

(Newser) – America fell in love with hard seltzer in the summer of 2019. It appears our feelings might have slightly cooled. In a piece for the Atlantic, Amanda Mull charts hard seltzer's heyday (more than 150 brands on the market by mid-2021!) and where sales are now (certainly not awful, but down year-over-year for the first time). But what she really looks at is the why. Yes, there are common-sense factors like inflation-related purse-string tightening. But she suggests something else is at play: the fact that "hard seltzer just isn’t very good." Mull qualifies her opinion by giving a drinking CV of sorts: She's a 36-year-old in the target audience for the beverage who is not a booze snob, still takes the occasional Jell-O shot, and has sampled more hard seltzer brands than she can count.

"The first sip was great: cold, slightly fizzy, not too sweet, identifiably lime-flavored," she writes of the first White Claw she ever tried. But within a few minutes of being out of the fridge, the drinking experience had severely degraded. That pattern repeated itself over the years, and she realized "the problem is, in large part, inherent to the product." Unlike, say, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, hard seltzer doesn't cover up the taste of its cheap alcohol—generally made from malt or fermented sugar—with sugar. So "when the drinks begin to warm even slightly," there's nothing to hide the taste of the alcohol. "I know why people get so drunk off these," Mull recalls thinking way back in 2019. "You have to crush them." (Read her full piece, which digs into what she considers a far tastier entry into the canned beverage arena.)

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