By: Vine Pair
For a category made up of lightly flavored, boozy, sparkling waters, hard seltzer continues to evolve with staggering speed. Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen all the major brands increase their flavor offerings, and a range of new innovations including hard seltzer lemonades, hard seltzer iced teas, hard seltzer cocktails, and even hard seltzer IPA. (OK, that last one was a lie, but perhaps not for long.)
With producers choosing between fermented cane sugar, distilled spirits, and wine as the base alcohol for their products, merely defining what qualifies as a hard seltzer these days comes with its own inherent challenges.
As VinePair approached our third annual hard seltzer ranking, we cast a broad eye across the category to come up with our own (unofficial) definition: To be included in our tasting, products would need to contain fewer than 150 calories; arrive at 6 percent ABV or below; and boast fewer than 10 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving.
After sampling more than 200 offerings, we ranked each hard seltzer based on how well their aromas and flavors represent fruit or other stated ingredients in their fresh form. We looked more favorably on those that showed subtle complexity or offered depth and concentration while still fitting the light-flavored bill. And we limited inclusion to one flavor per brand to give the broadest picture of what’s available right now.
Ready to crack a cold one? Here are the 30 best hard seltzers you can buy right now, tasted and ranked.
14. FUNKY BUDDHA TROPICAL MANGO GUAVA
There’s a perplexing quality to this hard seltzer. It succeeds where so many fail in serving tropical fruit that smells and tastes genuine. The flavor profile is exceptionally clean — there are moments when it tastes purer than water, but somehow there’s also a decent concentration to the mango and guava notes. The end result is a mouthwatering and infinitely crushable seltzer.