As a Holiday Alcohol Alternative, Hard Seltzer Isn’t Easy

Fruit-flavored hard seltzer

The holiday party season is approaching fast. It’s time to start thinking about ways to stay safe and keep alcohol consumption in check. Seltzer water is a fast-growing trend that’s being touted as a healthy holiday alcohol alternative. But it’s important to note that not all seltzer beverages are alcohol-free.

If you’re looking for a holiday alcohol alternative, seltzer isn’t necessarily the worst option. But check the label carefully for any alcohol content – however subtle it may be – and make sure it’s right for you.

Choose a Holiday Alcohol Alternative Wisely

Seltzer waters tend to fall into three categories:

  • Non-alcoholic seltzer water. This has been growing in popularity over the last several years. It can also include mineral water (Perrier, Topo Chico, Pellegrino) or sparkling water (LaCroix, Bubly). These are excellent holiday alcohol alternatives.
  • Standard alcohol content seltzer. This makes up a large portion of holiday alcohol alternatives, with around 4 to 6 percent alcohol by volume. That’s about the same as light beer, but less than typical wine alcohol content of around 10 to 15 percent. These seltzers include the popular White Claw and Truly brands.
  • Extra-hard seltzer. This is a relatively new category that includes Pabst Stronger Seltzer (8 percent).

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A Fourth Category of Alcohol

According to Esquire.com, alcohol has traditionally fallen into three distinct segments: wine, beer and spirits. Brewers like Anheuser-Busch have been trying to capitalize on the seltzer craze to create a fourth, non-beer category of alcohol that can be consumed from a can.

It’s still too early to tell whether hard seltzers are a fad or a category with staying power. However, CNN reports that sales of “spiked seltzer” surpassed $1 billion for the past year ending in August – a surge of nearly 200 percent over the previous year. Some analysts estimate that the market could be worth $2.5 billion by 2021.

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Focused on a Younger Audience

Chelsea Phillips, vice president of the “Beyond Beer” division at Anheuser-Busch, told Esquire that more and more consumers are choosing to be “beer rejectors.” New beverage categories are targeted mainly at younger consumer segments, as well as those looking for “healthy” choices (not just for holiday alcohol alternatives). Most hard seltzers have lower calorie and carb counts than most beers, as well as being gluten-free.

“People that are just entering legal drinking age, they don’t have a pre-set disposition to only drinking beer or spirits,” Phillips told Esquire. “You really have to leap in blindly to try some of these [new products], and they’re more willing to experiment.”

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Here’s the Hard Truth

When you’re looking for a healthy holiday alcohol alternative, reach first for sparkling water or mineral water. The presence of alcohol is unlikely, but look at the label anyway just to be sure.

And if you grab a can that says “hard seltzer,” think carefully before you pop the top. You can count on at least the same alcohol content as light beer. And that can be an unwelcome holiday surprise.

Want more information about portable alcohol monitoring, or Ignition Interlock Devices? Call Smart Start now at (800) 831-3299.