Brewed Battle: The War Between Beer and Seltzer

Brewed Battle: The War Between Beer and Seltzer

For decades, beer has reigned supreme as the adult beverage of choice for millions of people. It’s the drink that you bond with your buddies over after a long day at work or celebrate with after a big win. But in recent years, a new player has emerged in the market and is challenging beer’s dominance – seltzer.

What’s the big deal with seltzer?

Seltzer, also known as hard seltzer, spiked seltzer, or alcoholic seltzer, is made by combining carbonated water with alcohol, usually vodka or malted barley. The result is a refreshing, fizzy, low-calorie drink with a subtle fruity flavor. With the rise of health-conscious consumers, it’s not surprising that seltzer has become a hit, especially among millennials and Gen Z.

Is seltzer really a threat to beer?

Yes and no. While beer sales still outstrip seltzer sales, the latter is growing at a breakneck pace. According to Nielsen, in 2020, U.S. seltzer sales grew 160% year over year, with sales surpassing $4 billion. Meanwhile, beer sales have been stagnant or slightly declining. Brewers are taking note of this trend and are scrambling to launch their own seltzer brands to get a slice of the pie.

Why are people choosing seltzer over beer?

There are several reasons for this. For one, seltzer has a lower calorie count than beer, with some brands containing as little as 100 calories per can. This appeals to people who are watching their weight or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Seltzer is also gluten-free, making it suitable for those with gluten intolerance. Additionally, seltzer has a crisp, clean taste that some find more refreshing than beer, which can be heavy or bitter.

What are the pros and cons of each drink?

Pros of seltzer:

– Low calorie
– Gluten-free
– Refreshing taste
– Low alcohol content, making it easier to moderate consumption

Cons of seltzer:

– Limited variety of flavors compared to beer
– Some brands may contain artificial sweeteners or flavors
– Not as widely available as beer

Pros of beer:

– Wide range of flavors and styles
– High alcohol content, making it a good choice for socializing
– Easy to find in stores and bars

Cons of beer:

– High calorie count
– Not suitable for gluten-intolerant people
– Can be heavy or bitter for some drinkers

Can beer and seltzer coexist?

Absolutely. While there may be some cannibalization of sales, it’s unlikely that seltzer will completely replace beer. People have different tastes and preferences, and some will always prefer the taste of a cold, hoppy brew over a fizzy, fruit-flavored seltzer. Brewers are recognizing this and are diversifying their offerings to cater to both markets. In fact, some are even experimenting with hybrid drinks that combine the best of both worlds, like “beer-seltzer” or “seltzer-IPA” blends.

The bottom line

Whether you’re a die-hard beer fan or a seltzer convert, there’s no denying that both drinks have their place in the market. It’s up to breweries to keep up with changing consumer preferences and offer a range of options that cater to all tastes. In the end, it’s the consumers who will ultimately decide the winner in this brewed battle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is seltzer healthier than beer?

A: It depends on what you mean by “healthy.” Seltzer is lower in calories and gluten-free, making it a good choice for people who are watching their weight or have gluten intolerance. However, beer contains more nutrients like protein, B vitamins, and antioxidants than seltzer. Ultimately, moderation is key when it comes to both drinks.

Q: Are there any downsides to drinking seltzer?

A: Like any alcoholic drink, seltzer can be dangerous if consumed in excess. Additionally, some brands may contain artificial sweeteners or flavors, which can have negative health effects if consumed regularly. It’s important to read the labels carefully and drink responsibly.

Q: Can seltzer get you drunk?

A: Yes, seltzer contains alcohol, usually around 4-6%. However, the alcohol content is lower than beer or spirits, making it easier to moderate your drinking.

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