Does Hard Seltzer Taste Like Beer? Are they similar?

Hard seltzers and beer. They exist on the same shelves, they are about the same alcoholic strength so do they taste the same?

It maybe isn’t a stupid question to the many people trying their first one of either. How do you know until you try. Luckily i have tried many hundreds to give you all the info you need.

Does hard seltzer taste like beer?

Hard seltzer tastes quite a bit different from a beer, you would not confuse them. Apart from the crystal clear appearance of a hard seltzer, they are fruity, very fizzy and sweet.

This contrasts with a golden, malty and hoppy flavoured beer, the two are very different.

Is there any similarities in taste or ingredients? Are they similar in sugar or carbs? Or are they truly different in every way?

What does a hard seltzer taste like?

I’ve reviewed hundreds of drinks and drinks plenty of hard seltzers. I think they serve a purpose rather than are especially delicious.

This is an exert from a White Claw Natural Lime review i did…

“With any hard seltzer, you have to dial yourself in to exactly the amount of flavour you are going to be getting.

It is the nature of the beast or lack of a sugary carb beast, that the flavour might be mooted and slightly thin.

A seltzer water is supposed to take like that not a hugely sugary lime soda.

This actually has a pretty decent amount of flavour and it is tasty too.

It certainly isn’t too sweet but you are looking for more sugar either.

What does a beer taste like?

Beers are a much more diverse group of drinks than the hard seltzers. With a hard seltzer all you really change is the slight flavouring. With a beer you can change many ingredients and flavours.

To try and define what a single unknown beer tastes like is perhaps too difficult. Trying to compare a stout, lager, sour or fruit beer would be a challenge.

I would say that a beer would taste more bitter in general, you should pick out hops in nearly all cases and there will of course be some background of maltiness from whatever grain or grains is used (classically barley).

I have a list of my top 100 non alcoholic beers if you would like to read how i review beers and what the best are.

Can you confuse the taste of a hard seltzer for a beer?

In reality i don’t think you can.

Ive seen experiments where blindfolded people don’t know red wine from white wine but honestly, if you can’t tell the difference in these two drinks it is time to retire your taste buds.

What is a hard seltzer?

What even is a hard seltzer anyway?

The brand new and hugely popular sector of the alcoholic drinks market is the “hard seltzers”. They are based on seltzer water with alcohol added (the “hard” bit in hard seltzer).

The alcoholic base in White Claw for example, is a pure spirit which is five times distilled from corn. Corn is not an unusual base for a spirit but will initially make a pure and flavourless alcohol to mix with the seltzer flavours.

This makes White Claw somewhat unique in the hard seltzer world as nearly all of its rivals are based on a sugar cane distillation. Topo Chico is the only other difference product with a alcohol based on agave.

Full article here

What is a beer?

What is a beer indeed?! It’s the third most popular drink in the world after water and tea for a start.

At heart a beer is “an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt flavoured with hops”.

Beers come in an incredible range of colours, strengths, flavours, acidities and consistencies. I recommend you try them all.

Hard seltzer vs beer ingredients

Basically anything is what it is made of so what are these drinks made of?

What ingredients are in a hard seltzer?

There is not a lot of secret to a hard seltzer recipe. In fact, quite the opposite.

You basically have carbonated water, a shot of alcohol and a small amount of flavouring. The purpose is to keep the drink light and low in carbs, which they do brilliantly.

The only variable other than some flavouring is what alcohol to use. As stated above, the majority go for a fermented sugar cane with only the odd acceptation.

Contrary to popular belief, one of the only hard seltzers to have vodka is made by… Smirnoff, no surprises there then.

What ingredients are in a beer?

In Germany they have a purity law. A beer can only have 4 standard ingredients…

  • Water
  • Barley
  • Hops
  • Yeast

Having sampled many many beers, i do like it when they stick to few ingredients and close to this magic formula. However many newer beers, dark beers etc much have different ingredients.

The barley can be substituted for nearly any grain such as wheat, rice, rye or oats.

There are a large variety and flavours of hops and many beers have added flavours such as fruit or even a tart sourness from alternative types of fermentation.

Hard seltzer vs beer nutrition

The USDA say that the average alcoholic beer has 43kcal per 100ml which works out at 153kcal in a 12fl oz serving, this mirrors my own findings. 

I took a sample of 35 alcohol beers and found that the average calorie count was 43.2kcal per 100ml and 153.3 in a 12fl oz serving. 

A hard seltzer on the other hand comes in at an even 100kcal meaning it only have about 2/3rds the calories of a beer. 

The other way to look at it is you would need to drink 50% more hard seltzers to get the same calorie intake as beers. For example, you would need to drink 15 hard seltzers to have the same calorie intake as 10 beers.

All the standard hard seltzers come in 12fl oz cans has 100kcal in total. This is almost entirely made up of the calories coming from the alcohol as there is usually only an additional 2g of carbs per can adding any calories.

Per 12fl oz can
Alcohol by volume5%
of which sugars2g
Calories 100kcal
Typical hard seltzer nutrition

The USDA state the average alcoholic beer has 3.55g of carbs per 100ml and 12.6g of carbs in a 12fl oz serving. So compared to a hard seltzer this is quite the increase.

This carb load in beer vs hard seltzers would be telling if you were trying to decide which one to drink when on a low carb diet such as the keto diet.

So is a hard seltzer similar to beer at all?

Whilst they are clearly not similar in appearance or taste, they are similar in terms of alcohol content.

In terms of alcohol and volume, hard seltzers are exactly the same as a standard beer. They both are 12fl oz in volume and 5% alcohol by volume. 

The CDC states it takes the average 160lb adult male, 4 standard beers to get drunk. A standard beer is 12fl oz and 5% ABV which is the same as a hard seltzer. The 4 hard seltzer have to be drank over 1-2 hours. If you are a female or lighter then it will take less hard seltzers, if you are a significantly heavier male, it may take 5+ hard seltzers to get drunk.

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