Hard seltzer and hard to break routines

A couple of weeks ago, I met a friend at a local taproom. When I arrived, a glass of something transparent and fizzy was sat in front of her. Hard seltzer.

“I don’t like beer” she had explained previously.

Before you write me off as a somewhat selfish date, let me clarify that I’d chosen the taproom because I know that they typically have a couple of ciders available. Instead, she’d opted to give the seltzer a whirl.

Hard seltzer has been gaining popularity in taprooms across the country, or so I hear. I have nothing against hard seltzer as a drink, but there’s not much I like about it either. It’s bland, and the fizzy-ness without any depth of mouthfeel just rubs me the wrong way. That said, I can certainly see how having something a little lighter and healthier might appeal to some drinkers from time to time.

What I am concerned by is the culture of seltzer as a beer substitute. If it becomes a taproom staple, it makes it easier for people to perpetuate the claim that they just don’t like beer. Call me belligerent, but I’m just not ready to take all of those people at their word, 100% of the time.

In a recent Twitter conversation, a brewer told me: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a husband and wife walk into the taproom and then leave because there wasn’t something the wife wanted.”

More than just the gender stereotypes (true as they be in the case) make me dismayed at this statement. I wonder how long it will be until taproom managers just ‘give up’ on asking pertinent questions to match the reluctant guest of a beer lover to something that might actually wind up knocking their socks off. Seltzer could be a substitute for that conversation. But should it be? Does anyone actually legitimately ‘love’ hard seltzer, or is it usually ordered as a last ditch choice, by the poor wife in the brewer’s anecdote, or by my friend whom I dragged to a microbrewery with me?

Shortly after my friend and I ordered our second round – another pint of fizzy alcoholic water for her, a beer for me – I slid my glass across the table to her. She sniffed at the dark mauve liquid inquisitively. I encouraged her to take a sip.

“It’s a fruited wheat beer”, I told her, explaining how the wheat produced a creamy mouthfeel. It was a beautiful pint too; fruity, tart, and perhaps importantly in this case, with no detectable hop flavor.

“That’s really nice” she exclaimed, seemingly surprised, turning back to her sparkling pint of transparence with a somewhat lackluster gaze.

I have a feeling she’ll be trying something different next time.

White wheat ale recipe

Today I cracked open the first bottle of a white wheat ale I made a few weeks ago. I fermented for 2 weeks and conditioned in bottles for 4 weeks.

I mashed at 157F, which was a little higher than I was aiming for, but I wanted to go for something on the higher end with the aim of getting a fairly full bodied beer. I chose to add a few extra early hops and ease off on the late additions, to ensure that the hop flavor bomb didn’t steal the show from the wheat in the final flavor profile.

I’m happy with how this turned out – the bitterness and flavor profile is pretty much what I was aiming for. Next time I might dry hop for a bit of extra aroma, and perhaps try adding lactose/more wheat, and making this a hazy beer.

white wheat

This was a nanobrew, but I’m including the grain info recipe:

Mash at 157F for 45 min

2 lb 12 oz grain per gallon
55% 2-Row pale
35% white wheat
10% flaked wheat
Mash for 50 minutes

0.8 oz of hops per gallon
Pacific Jade and warrior first wort hops
Pinch irish moss @ 15 min to go
Columbus @ 15 min left
Citra @ 10 minutes left
Mosaic @ 5 minutes left