Remember when you were first started drinking alcohol? Most of us were not concerned about the amount of legs on a glass of wine, or the ABV of beer. We were mostly concerned about the cost, if what we were drinking made us look cooler, and how good it tasted. Generally, we consumed a beverage that ended in “Ice” and as far as spirits, vodka was being mixed with soda. If you are as old as I am, you might remember Tropical Sprite remix. I made drinks with Monarch because it was the cheapest vodka; when you are a poor college student, it was perfect. I image that if hard soda was around I and all of my Abercrombie and velour sweatsuit-wearing friends would have been drinking it.
Yes, I am sure of it! So, you like, or a younger version of you, like hard soda or would drink it if presented with one. You really think it is delicious! But how does it stack up against, let’s say, hard cider?
Hard soda, generally speaking, is considered a flavored malt beverage or flavored beer.
Potential ingredients: water, malt, sweetener or cane sugar, flavoring, coloring, preservatives, & added carbonation.
Calories: roughly 200 calories on average.
ABV: on average, hard sodas have a low ABV. General average is 4 to 4.2 ABV.
Notes: some hard soda companies are realizing they are losing potential consumers because of the sugar and carbohydrate content, and thus are beginning to come out with a more calorie conscious line of hard soda – just what the keto diet millennials are looking for.
Hard cider is a beverage made with fermented apples, sugar, and yeast.
Potential ingredients: Apples, water, sugar, flavoring, preservatives, and added carbonation.
Calories: roughly 90-200 calories. The average is likely more around 150-160 calories.
ABV: Most ciders reside between 5 and 6 ABV.
Notes: On average, there is a larger craft movement that keeps ciders ingredients simple: apples, sugar, and a preservative so it can travel. That’s it for most hard ciders.
Cider is made with apples. Apples are a superfood full of vitamin C and antioxidants, which are very heart healthy. And don’t forget our own research on cider and its benefits. Cider is also almost always gluten-free.
Genius idea, yes, but for whom? Big beer knew what was up as most of the brands are now owned by Boston Beer Co, MillerCoors, and even Pabst. If you are trying to bring young, new-to-alcohol 20-somethings into the booze game then yes, hard soda is where it is at. Hitting the shelves in 2015 and going strong since with clever marketing and flavor choices, brands such as Henry’s, Not Your Fathers, Best Damn, Boxer’s Hard Soda, and Coney Island have done very well. With their ever-changing labels and flavors, they have become a serious force on the alcohol scene, keeping loyal soda lovers coming back for more.
It really began with root beer and since moved onto orange soda, ginger ale, grape soda, and cherry soda, to name a few. You may also notice them cropping up in restaurants more than ever. New inventive cocktails are using the sodas as an ingredient, or as part of an after-dinner treat: a hard soda float with ice cream. And, we are not knocking hard cider. Just like hard cider, there are craft soda makers out there. Garden Party Hard Soda and Sprecher’s Hard Soda make killer products that won’t make you second guess a sip. There are likely others out there, but I am not a savvy hard soda searcher.
If this your idea of delicious when it comes to alcohol, then hard soda is for you, but if it’s not, then let me bend your ear for some words about hard cider.
Most hard ciders that haven’t been back sweetened will have a much lower sugar and calorie content, depending on a variety of things such as the apples used and the method of fermentation used. This does not account for all hard ciders out there. You may notice there are many flavored ciders on the market and I would say almost 35% have added some flavors(now these flavors are almost always all natural and are fruits: berries, pear, pomegranate or watermelon).
Hard cider, as of late, is trying to reach the sweet-loving consumer, and this is causing quite the discussion in the cider industry. Is this “New Age” cider a good thing or bad thing? The traditional cidermakers are miffed because they feel it is taking away from the origins of true cider making, while others argue it is bringing the not-so-keen cider person to the other side. As a dry, still cider is a good way to sway a wine drinker, and as a hopped cider is to a beer drinker, I think these flavored ciders might be the way to bring the hard soda lovers to the Ciderside of life.
What do you think? Do you think hard soda is here to stay or do you expect it to “fizzle” out like so many of the hard cider competitors have in the past? Will hard soda soon have its own festivals, events, awards, and even thirsty consumers? These questions I cannot answer because only time will tell, but I do that hard cider is here to stay! Did we miss any great hard soda companies out there making quality craft hard soda?