Somehow I made it a full four years without trying a can of White Claw, and a full seven years without trying any kind of hard or spiked seltzer (or hard sparkling water).
This particular one is the most popular brand of hard seltzer, White Claw, which launched in 2016, and accounts for over half of all total sales, according to The Takeout. The overall sales of hard seltzer is $2.5 billion, so yeah. They’re doing alright.
Why are people so obsessed with this stuff? I guess because it’s only five percent alcohol, doesn’t taste like alcohol, and is only 100 calories. And if you’re into this, it’s also gluten-free. Compare, for example, Voodoo Ranger, one of my favorite IPAs. That’s 9 percent alcohol, is an IPA so it’s heavy, and is 200 calories for one bottle.
A drink I always hated when I was younger and drinking alcohol more often was Smirnoff Ice, which also came in a variety of flavors. One of those is 228 calories (more than the IPA) and has a staggering 33 grams of sugar. How can anyone drink one of those, much less two or more? When I’m drinking alcohol at a party, I’m not trying to fill my belly with that much sugar.
The Takeout agrees with my sugar reasoning, and adds that the reason people like it is that it’s seen as more wholesome.
Anecdotally, there’s a strong perception among White Claw fans that the stuff is less taxing on their bodies—it’s not-so-jokingly called hydrating—than beer or other alcohol would be. – Kate Bernot, freelance writer, former managing editor at The Takeout.
Or as the slogan goes, “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking claws.”
So, the recipe seems simple enough: purified carbonated water, alcohol, natural flavors, natural cane sugar, citric acid, and sodium acid. In other words, it’s carbonated water, alcohol and fruit flavoring for a “refreshing drink.”
To be honest, I’m not even sure I’ve had carbonated water, and like I’ve said, I’ve certainly not had the fruity alcohol version. I have nothing to compare it to in that regard. But boy, as I mentioned, it sure does seem popular recently and the billions of dollars attests to that. I’ve noticed the walk-in beer caves now are packed with these, and I’ve been hesitant to nab any because I didn’t want to buy a case of something I might not like.
Fortunately, I’m dog-sitting at my brother’s house and they have a few cans of White Claw! No better time to see if I like it, huh?
The description on the can reads, “Crafted using our unique brewpure process and only the finest flavors to deliver a surge of pure refreshment and a hard seltzer like no other.”
White Claw sells them in other flavors, too, including black cherry, cherry, ruby grapefruits, natural lime, mango, lemon, tangerine, watermelon and pure hard seltzer (unflavored), according to Wikipedia. They’ve also recently introduced lemon, tangerine and watermelon.
My first reaction to the raspberry White Claw: It tastes like mildly flavored, more bubbly water. It’s not too sugary, either, which, as you now know, I’m happy with. There’s two grams of sugar and two grams of added sugar.
It’s fine. I get the refreshing aspect, but for me, that added flavoring gives a bad aftertaste and not even a particularly yummy original taste. I can drink it. But I probably wouldn’t have more than one can in a night. I’d rather drink something that’s going to give me a better kick and more rich flavor, like an IPA.
But, to its credit, I don’t feel gross or full after drinking one. It gets in, does its thing, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. So I guess it is wholesome, in that sense, and less taxing on my body.
Now, I have to admit, I actually tried a different seltzer last night that wasn’t White Claw, so I’m not pure with my first experience with hard seltzer. The one I tried was this:
First off, that’s just a cooler and more appealing cover art. Plus, I’m going to be tempted by the addition of tequila, in this case, the company’s Sauza tequila. And lime is a great flavoring, especially with alcohol and tequila in particular. This one is marginally more calories at 112, but again, marginal, you don’t notice it. It was good, too, but I would have the same reaction to it as I did the White Claw: it’s fine, good enough, but not something I’m going to pine for. Maybe marginally better than White Claw for the slight kick of taste from the tequila.
The only other flavor that intrigues me to try is the mango one.
Overall, I’m a sucker for hype and wondering what the hype is all about, so it was inevitable that I would eventually try a White Claw and/or hard seltzer from another company. But, it’s not my thing, and I’m not even trying to be my usual contrarian self; it’s not my sort of alcohol. Again, a Long Island Iced Tea or an IPA is more my speed.
But I would recommend you trying it so you, too, can see what all the hype is about, and hey, maybe you’ll have a more positive reaction to it than I did.