A Guide to How Hard Seltzers are Made

Everything to know about how hard seltzers are produced

Hard seltzer has become one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in recent years, with sales skyrocketing and new brands popping up all the time. But how exactly is this fizzy, low-calorie drink made?

The production process for hard seltzer typically begins with creating a sugar wash, which is a mixture of water and sugar. The most commonly used sugar is cane sugar, but other options like glucose, agave, and honey can also be used.

The sugar wash is then fermented with yeast to create alcohol, which is usually around 5% ABV.

After fermentation, the hard seltzer is carbonated with carbon dioxide gas to give it its signature fizziness. Some producers also add natural fruit flavors or other ingredients to enhance the taste.

The end result is a refreshing, low-calorie drink that has taken the beverage industry by storm.

What is Hard Seltzer?

Hard seltzer is a type of alcoholic beverage that has gained popularity in recent years.

assorted brands of hard selzters on a helf in a store

It is a refreshing, carbonated drink that is often flavored with fruit or other natural flavors. Hard seltzer is typically made by fermenting cane sugar or malted barley, although the main fermentable source can also be sugar.

Hard seltzers are categorized as a flavored malt beverage, or FMB, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau(TTB).

They are also sometimes referred to as spiked seltzer or alcoholic sparkling water. Hard seltzers are almost always around 4% to 5% alcohol by volume, making them a lower-alcohol alternative to beer or wine.

Hard seltzers are often marketed as a healthier alternative to other alcoholic beverages, as they are typically low in calories and carbohydrates. However, it is important to note that hard seltzers are still an alcoholic beverage and should be consumed in moderation.


Base Ingredients

Hard seltzer is made from a sugar wash, which is a blend of water and sugar.

The most commonly used sugar is cane sugar, but glucose, agave, and honey can also be used. The sugar wash is then fermented with yeast to create alcohol.

Some hard seltzer producers use malted barley instead of sugar wash to create alcohol.

Flavorings and Sweeteners

After the base ingredients are fermented, flavorings and sweeteners are added to give hard seltzer its unique taste.

Natural fruit flavors, such as raspberry, black cherry, and mango, are commonly used. Sweeteners such as stevia or erythritol may also be added to balance the taste of the drink.


Carbonation is added to hard seltzer to make it fizzy.

The carbonation process involves injecting carbon dioxide into the drink under pressure. The amount of carbonation added can affect the taste and mouthfeel of the drink.

Overall, hard seltzer is made from simple ingredients, but the process of creating the perfect balance of taste and carbonation can be challenging for producers.

Brewing Process

Hard seltzer is a refreshing alcoholic beverage that is relatively easy to make compared to beer brewing.

Equipment for the preparation of beer in a private brewery

The brewing process involves four main steps: fermentation, clarification and filtration, carbonation, and packaging.


The fermentation process begins with a sugar wash, which is a mixture of water and sugar.

The sugar is broken down by yeast during the fermentation process, and the byproduct is alcohol. The yeast strain used for brewing hard seltzer is typically a neutral ale yeast, such as White Labs California Ale Yeast – WLP001.

The yeast is added to the sugar wash, and the mixture is left to ferment for several days until the desired alcohol content is reached.

Clarification and Filtration

After fermentation is complete, the hard seltzer is cloudy and may contain yeast and other particles.

To clarify the beverage, it is necessary to filter it. The most common method of filtration is to use a fining agent, such as gelatin or isinglass, which helps to settle out the particles.

Once the particles have settled, the hard seltzer can be racked off the sediment and transferred to a secondary fermenter for further clarification.


Carbonation is a critical step in the brewing process, as it gives the hard seltzer its characteristic fizziness.

There are several methods of carbonation, but the most common is to use a carbonation stone. The carbonation stone is submerged in the hard seltzer, and carbon dioxide gas is forced through it, dissolving into the liquid and creating carbonation.

The hard seltzer is then left to carbonate for several days until the desired level of carbonation is achieved.


Once the hard seltzer is carbonated, it is ready for packaging.

Most homebrewers choose to bottle their hard seltzer using a bottling wand and capper. Alternatively, the hard seltzer can be kegged and served on tap.

Before packaging, it is essential to ensure that the hard seltzer is free of any off flavors or aromas. This can be achieved by conducting a sensory evaluation or by using a chemical analysis kit.

Comparison to Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages

Hard seltzer has gained popularity in recent years due to its light and refreshing taste, as well as its lower calorie and sugar content compared to other alcoholic beverages.

Here are some key differences between hard seltzer and beer:

  • Hard seltzer is made by fermenting cane sugar or sugar with water, whereas beer uses malted grains as the primary source of sugar.
  • Hard seltzer is almost always around 4% to 5% alcohol by volume, while beer can range from 4% to 10% or more.
  • Hard seltzer is typically gluten-free, making it a good option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
  • Hard seltzer is lighter in calories than beer, with an average of about 100 calories per serving compared to 153 for beer.
  • Hard seltzer is lower in sugar than beer, with an average of about 2 grams of carbohydrates per drink compared to 10 or more grams in beer.

Hard seltzer has also been compared to other alcoholic beverages, such as wine and spirits.

While hard seltzer is generally lower in alcohol content than wine and spirits, it is also lower in calories and sugar. Additionally, hard seltzer is often flavored, giving it a unique taste profile compared to other alcoholic beverages.

Overall, hard seltzer offers a lighter and refreshing alternative to traditional beer and other alcoholic beverages. Its lower calorie and sugar content make it a good choice for those looking to enjoy a drink without the guilt, while its unique flavor profile sets it apart from other options on the market.


Hard seltzer has become a popular alcoholic beverage in recent years, offering a refreshing and low-calorie alternative to beer and other alcoholic drinks.

The production process of hard seltzer involves fermenting a sugar base, which can come from a variety of sources such as cane sugar, glucose, agave, and honey.

During the fermentation process, the sugar is converted into alcohol, and the resulting liquid is then carbonated to enhance its refreshment and flavor. The classic hard seltzer has a clear, colorless appearance with an alcohol content of around 4-5% by volume, similar to beer.

While there are variations among different brands of hard seltzer, the production process remains largely the same.

The key to producing a high-quality hard seltzer is to ensure the sugar wash is properly fermented and the resulting liquid is adequately carbonated. Effective filtration practices are also necessary to remove any discoloration or unwanted odors that may result from the fermentation process.

Overall, hard seltzer production is a relatively straightforward process that involves a few simple steps. With its low alcohol content and refreshing taste, hard seltzer is likely to remain a popular choice among consumers looking for a lighter alternative to traditional alcoholic drinks.

Comment below and let us know your favorite seltzer to drink!

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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