The Serve

Are Hard Seltzers Just Another Malt Based Beer?

Thu, Jul 20, 2023

In recent years, hard seltzers have been appealing to consumers with their refreshing flavors and chic branding. However, what most people don't realize is that they might be falling for a clever marketing ploy. Many hard seltzers on the market are, in fact, not entirely what they seem to be. Beneath their attractive packaging and enticing taste lies a hidden secret – they share a surprising similarity with beer, being based on the same malt base. Yes, you read that right! Hard seltzers, despite their crisp and light appearance, are brewed, malt based products.


What is malt base? The basic concept is that a little sugar is added to carbonated water (seltzer), which is then fermented by introducing yeast so that the sugars are converted into alcohol.The production often involves brewing grains like barley, corn, or rice, which are usually more abundant and less expensive than certain ingredients used in liquor production. Malt beverage, simply put, is a fermented drink much like Bud Light or Heineken. The difference between a beer and a hard seltzer though is that a hard seltzer has gone through a centrifuge or charcoal filters to remove the color and then flavorings are added in the form of 'natural flavors' (see more on 'natural flavors' here). This means that hard seltzers are essentially dressed-up, fancy-looking beers with added flavorings.


No need to worry because just like Volley, there are a handful of hard seltzer in the market that do use distilled spirits at the base of their drinks - at Volley we use 100% agave tequila. The misunderstanding surrounding hard seltzers stems from their labeling and marketing strategies. Many brands emphasize their low-calorie and gluten-free aspects, leading consumers to believe they are entirely different from traditional beers. In reality, hard seltzers may have lower alcohol content than some beers, but they share a common origin in the malt base.


Next time you reach for that vibrant, sparkling hard seltzer, take a moment to think about the liquor you're consuming. Being informed about the products we consume allows us to make mindful choices and embrace the unique aspects of each beverage. So, whether you're a fan of traditional beer or hard seltzer, remember that understanding the malt beverage connection unveils the truth behind these trendy canned drinks.