Hard Seltzer isn’t the talk of the town here yet, but in the U.S. it was the drink hit of 2019. Not really a novelty, the right positioning and a change in consumer behavior seems to have triggered the boom, however.
Top of the Pops
Basically, it is the resurrection of Alko Pops but presented differently and more fiscally attractive thanks to a modified manufacturing process that does not require distilled alcohol.
Hard to believe – Soft is the new Hard
Hard Seltzer is alcohol (Hard) + fizz (Seltzer) with flavor.
With 4 – 6 per mille alcohol, the drink is oriented towards beer, but is clear, fruity and low in calories, thus serving the wishes of many consumers. Unlike beer, Hard Seltzer has also apparently managed to appeal equally to men and women The production process, in turn, is similar, it is a fermentation process based on sugar or malt .
Whether it will also be a success in Germany remains to be seen, but the first suppliers are establishing themselves on the market, even though a similar beverage category already exists here in the form of Fassbrause. For our experiment, we don’t want to emulate the trend, but directly encourage a counter-trend: Soft Seltzer.
So water without alcohol but with a new taste.
That, too, has been around for years: Clear water-based drinks with flavors ranging from coconut to peach to berry. However, we are interested in a drinking experience that is oriented towards an after-work beer or a drink like gin and tonic. So tart, spicy, bitter, savory and yet refreshing. And all this on a completely natural basis.
Specifically, we combine the following ingredients for this:
Soft Seltzer 1 “Cucumber-Orange
Cucumber soda with a syrup of orange, lemongrass, thyme, rosemary, roasted juniper, cinchona bark and lavender flowers.
Soft Seltzer 2 “Radicchio Pear”
Radicchio soda with a syrup of pear juice, mace, anise, tonka bean, vanilla and salt.
For the cucumber soda we marinate the cucumbers with a little salt and sugar, then we puree them finely and let them hang through a cloth. The resulting juice
we heat it briefly to 70 °C and then cool it down again on ice. This pasteurization process allows us to guarantee a certain shelf life. For the syrup we roast the juniper whereby resinous bitter aromas arise.juniper is very popular in Scandinavian countries and is used, for example, in the production of gin or genever. We beat the lemongrass once and then cut it into fine rings. This allows it to optimally develop its flavor. Thyme, rosemary, cinchona bark and the lavender flowers we put in the pot like this. We squeeze the oranges, the juice serves as a carrier for the flavors. We do not add any sugar and boil the broth slowly over many hours, let it cool down and reheat it.
The result is a fully aromatic, strong, slightly bitter brew with a fawn color. To give the broth even more strength, we vacuum it, with fresh thyme/rosemary sprigs, organgen peel and roasted juniper berries. We let the so inoculated decoction brew for 24 hours. When the bag is opened, intense aromas are released. Resinous herbal twigs, bitter cinchona bark and spicy juniper provide a familiar gin aroma. Not alcoholic but complex and different, it makes our Cucumber Soft Seltzer.
We mix the radicchio with ice cubes and a pinch of salt. The mixed salad begins
to oxidize immediately and changes from deep red to dark red with brown foam. We strain the juice once through a sieve and also heat it up to 70 C. Here, the turbid matter settles at the top and the juice clarifies naturally. The result is a slightly bitter, reddish juice. We use fresh pear juice as a carrier for the flavors of our syrup. We juice the pears and put the juice directly into the pot with the mace, anise, tonka bean, vanilla and salt and let it reduce over several hours to concentrate the flavors. The broth acquires a brownish color, and a thick consistency.
Now that really beads!
We add the respective syrup to the juices according to type:
Cucumber juice + orange syrup, radicchio juice + pear syrup
The only thing missing is the tingle. To do this, we put the ready-flavored juices in a soda maker, adding the required amount of carbonation. Yes, it beads! Our Soft Seltzer is packaged in a glass bottle in the size of 0.33 l with a crown cap. Conceivable would also be a can or iron bottle.
Tasting – Soft and quaffable but with punch
Once again we dared to taste our experiment with the whole team.
Our tart, salty, bitter, fruity, munchy flavor bombs are unusual but not unpopular. It was even asked if there is not alcohol in it. That was precisely one of our goals. Basically, we are playing with a multisensory/synesthetic perception. We are conditioned to associate bitter, tart aromas in cold drinks or aromas of juniper, for example, which we mostly know from gin, with alcohol. This results in an alcoholic drinking sensation without any alcohol at all. Hard Seltzer works the other way around, the clear carbonated drink is associated with water and the alcohol content is surprising because it is hardly noticed.
In terms of color, we have departed from clear flavored beverages and thus also visually emphasize the force of our Soft Seltzer series.
So they’re not that soft. But for alcohol lovers, if it’s too soft, you’re too hard.