Tips for Making Hard Seltzer

If your head is in the hops 24/7 then picking up a 6-pack of hard seltzer is not necessarily top of mind before heading out to a party. However, this is the newest trends in the brewing world. For a beverage so light and so un-typical it’s hard to venture a guess as to why this trend has caught on. But rest assured, breweries all over the country and adapting and making this concoction with ease and to appease.

There’s been beer alternatives aplenty, and strange adjunct adding brews too. But as Seltzer came into the grocery market and ousted soda, and then the popularity of cider waned, hard soda became the hot new thing. Now it's hard seltzer!

The trend is so strong and the drink so easy to make, that breweries are jumping on the boat.

If you’re already a homebrewer or a brewing expanding that selection here’s some things to keep in mind when trying this fizzy concoction.

Hard Seltzer For The Brewer

There’s two main ways to prepare this kind of beverage. If you’ve got some experience at brewing an IPA or a Stout, then you’d think that drink would be no trouble at all.

The first way to create hard seltzer is one you may have already thought of:

  • Five gallons of Water

  • Cane Sugar

  • Clean-fermenting yeast

For the homebrewer, there’s going to be a vertical here. First, the end product will end up taking on a lager or wine flavor. The solution here is to use a reverse osmosis technique to clean the final product. Second, calculating final gravity is important in order to know just how strong the final product will end up. Most of the Seltzer water products end up have a “flavorless” quality to them. There’s no bozy aftertaste and they certainly don’t want to be considered a malt beverage. A real shame for us beer fanatics.

The third technical problem is with force carbonating. You’ll be carbonating for a long time and at more than 30 PSI. Make sure you have the system required to do this step so that the beverage doesn’t fall flat.

Blending With Hard Seltzer

The other way to make alcoholic seltzer is to blend: Take a clear spirit, such as vodka or Everclear, and mix it with water until you hit the 4.5-6% ABV range, where most of the commercial hard seltzers fall.

When it comes to flavoring, if we're drinking hard seltzer-homemade or not-we want flavoring. The commercial versions come in all manner of fruit combinations from lime and coconut to blueberry lemonade.

There are a number of ways you can infuse the flavors into your homebrewed hard seltzer. First, if you went the sugar-brew route, try to find flavors, such as pear, that will boost those white-wine characteristics. The best way is to cold-steep the fruit before carbonation.

Steeping in alcohol also helps to kill any stray bugs that might be hanging out on your additional ingredients.

Using Pre-Flavored Spirits

Flavored vodka is another alternative to cold-stepping or mixing in an essence of fruit. There's seemingly every flavor available, and this is what may separate your craft hard seltzer from those on the market.

Hopefully this will get you started, and get some ideas before going towards a mass production, if you’re brewing on a large scale.

Now treats your friends and family to a crips, clean hard seltzer, just in time for Summer. And if you’ve found this helpful, please share or comment.