Have you tried alcoholic seltzer?

Following in the footsteps of the craft beer revolution and the ‘ginaissance’, it’s shaping up to be a seltzer summer for Aussies.

Have you heard of seltzer? It’s alcohol-infused sparkling water with a hint of fruit flavour. The secret behind its success is the freshness of flavour and the lightness of the drink – most seltzers contain less than 100 calories, and are sugar and gluten-free.

Alcoholic seltzer has been a huge hit in the US – total alcoholic seltzer sales for the 52-week period ended June 13, 2020 were $2.7 billion, and their dollar share of total beer. malt beverages and cider has now exceeded 10%.

Lion launched the first locally produced seltzer into the market in October, called Quincy, with CUB and Asahi bringing out Actual and Good Tides and earlier this year, joining an avalanche of independent brands. There are now around 30 alcoholic seltzer brands available in Australia.

Endeavour Drinks reports seltzer sales tripled in BWS during the first week of spring. And searches on the Dan Murphy’s website have been up 57% in the last two weeks.

BWS has more than doubled its range in anticipation of surging demand in the warmer months. Endeavour Group’s Pinnacle Drinks has also produced its own lines of seltzers, including Saintly, Rainbird and Liberty Coast.

“Overseas, we have seen seltzers convert beer, wine and spirits drinkers, so it appeals to a wide range of drinks lovers,” said Dan Murphy’s Premix Category Manager Andrew McCrae. “We have seen nimble Aussie producers and brewers pivoting to make seltzers, so there are some fantastic locally-made products for drinks lovers to try.”

Among the brands that we’ve earmarked for trial are Delvi Blood Orange Passion and Desert Lime, which focuses on locally farmed organic ingredients and pure Australian water; and Sips, which pairs classic fruit with native Australian botanicals, sparkling water and triple-distilled vodka.

The latest seltzer to arrive on shelf in Dan Murphy’s is the world’s biggest selling brand, White Claw, which has stolen a 10% share of the US beer market.

Drinks Digest tried White Claw Natural Lime and found it pretty refreshing. It’s initially only available in the Natural Lime variant, Ruby Grapefruit and Mango.

We were torn between the lime and mango four-packs, since mixed packs weren’t available. We’re keen to taste the mango next time.

Danny Brager, former Nielsen Senior Vice-President, US Beverage Alcohol Practice, believes offering a variety of flavours was key to seltzer’s success in the US, with two thirds of brands being marketed in mixed packs. However, Australia has traditionally preferred a single flavour model.

Among the selzters we’ve tried so far, our current favourite is Liberty Coast Raspberry (pictured main).

It has a delicious, real berry taste and feels very light and refreshing on a sunny afternoon. We’re tipping that Aussies are going to fall in love with seltzer over summer.

New entrant to the market Basic Babe co-founder Mark Collins agrees: “The Australian lifestyle is one big seltzer usage occasion.”

So hunt them down next time you’re at a bottlo – we found our latest Liberty Coast supplies in the walk-in beer fridge at our local Dan’s and had a great chat with the shop assistant about them. He said he couldn’t wait to get his hands on a can of White Claw and see if it lives up to the hype.

Stay tuned …

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