Hard seltzer continues to attract new fans across the nation and is one of the hottest new trends in boozy drinks. Hard seltzer, or spiked seltzer, is an alcoholic beverage containing carbonated water, alcohol, and usually a fruit flavoring.
These beverages have really made a comeback over the past few years and are becoming increasingly popular among younger alcohol aficionados looking for options that are gluten-free, have less sugar, fewer calories, and fewer carbs.
Seltzer sales across the US grew by 200 percent during 2019 according to Nielsen data, largely dominated by popular national brands like White Claw or Truly. With such high demand nationally, and even product shortages impacting distribution, a handful of local breweries jumped on board to try their hand at local versions of seltzers right here in Grand Rapids.
I have been into the seltzer scene since before White Claw was cool or even a recognizable brand. I remember the first time I saw a friend with a can when it was first distributed to bars in Grand Rapids. Immediately curious, and looking for a new low-calorie drink option per my doctor's recommendation to drop a few pounds, I had to get my hands on every flavor available.
Since first trying White Claw, Truly, Smirnoff, High Noon and the like, I have become a bit of a seltzer snob and make a point of trying every new brand and flavor as it’s released. I have even become a fan of Natural Light’s “Natty Seltzer” (who would have ever thought they’d have a seltzer line?!) and have talked a few of my favorite bars into carrying the product.
If you’re looking to try out a local variety that you won’t find anywhere else, Grand Rapids has got you covered.
Check out the following hot spots in Grand Rapids that are now serving their own line of seltzers.
Each flavor of City Built Brewing's Sixth Street Seltzer is customizable with different flavored syrups.
Photo by Jason Ley
City Built Brewing Co.
Sixth Street Seltzer by City Built Brewing Co. is another tasty new seltzer to hit Grand Rapids. City Built uses local ingredients, such as Michigan beet sugar, that give these beverages a really refreshing burst of flavor and unique taste overall.
Flavors include mango, strawberry, or wildberry, and can be added to the house-made base. These seltzers boast 5.9% ABV, 0G sugar and 0G carbs to start before flavors are added in. In collaboration with Brix Soda, City Built also offers the Wobbly Pop, a pomegranate lemonade soda hard seltzer, for those who like things a little bit sweeter. The Wobbly Pop is still gluten-free, though it has 5.25% ABV.
You can find Clear Coast hard seltzer at Perrin, as well as many retailers in West Michigan.
Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids
Perrin Brewing Company
After releasing their Clear Coast Fresh Hard Seltzer, Perrin Brewing "rewired" the recipe and launched their Rewired Hard Seltzer. A refreshing combination of natural fruit flavors, Rewired is available widely in the Grand Rapids area and is another one of my personal favorites. Available in the flavors lemon raspberry, yuzu elderflower, and pineapple tangerine, you're sure to have a unique taste with any pick.
These seltzers are available in variety packs and have 5% ABV, 1G carbs, and just 100 calories each. You can pick them up at Perrin Brewing Company or most local retailers in Grand Rapids.
Choose from nearly 30 house-made flavored syrups to combine with TwoGuys' hard seltzer for a unique seltzer cocktail.
Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR.
TwoGuys Brewing in Wyoming is known for its craft brews, food, and hard seltzer cocktails. They’re referred to as “sugar-based carbonated wine” with only 70 calories, 0G of sugar, 0 carbs, but pack a powerful 7% ABV.
To start, the seltzer comes in the original flavor known as the “Brian Seltzer” and has no sugar. You can add a variety of nearly 30 house-made flavored syrups to create your own medleys which add different amounts of sugar and added calories as you go.
A few flavors on tap include peach, grapefruit, mojito, cucumber, and more. Stop in if you’re looking for a personalized seltzer experience that you can take with you in 16 oz. cans.
If you haven’t been to TwoGuys, you should check it out. They have one of the most impressive lineups of seltzer flavors that I have found around Grand Rapids. They are located in an old 7-11 building just south of downtown and are known for an impressive food menu to accompany your seltzer sipping.
Incidentally, every one of these breweries is part of the Beer City Brewsader Passport program, and even if you're drinking seltzer, you can still get a check-in via the app.
Feel free to leave a comment if you’re aware of another locally crafted seltzer that visitors should check out when they’re in town.