Thursday, August 18, 2022

On (Canned) Seltzer

In the Fall of 2014, I thought LaCroix was only a drink for hipster ladies. Little did I know seltzer (is it seltzer, is it sparkling water?) was about to invade America. Let's break down the major brands:

Chief criteria: Carbonation strength; Artificial flavor vs natural; Real Juice vs flavoring. 

Bubly: Very medium carbonation, with not overly artificial flavoring. My favorite of all the seltzers for its balance. Also gets credit for the most grapefruit forward (sour) of all the pamplemousses, though honestly not my preferred flavor.   

Food Lion brand: High carbonation, weird flavoring, not thoroughly integrated into the water prior to carbonation, but added almost as an artificial afterthought. Pretty trash overall. 

Harris Teeter brand: Remarkably crisp, not too artificial tasting. Maybe the best of the store brands. Medium-high carbonation.

LaCroix: The OG. Very crisp and refreshing when ice cold, after a workout, or post-romp, very high carbonation. In great enough quantities could take the enamel off your teeth. Flavorings are artificial-tasting.

Spindrift: With "real" juice, Spindrift is the juiciest and most natural tasting of the seltzers. Strikes me as weak tea though, and leaves one unfulfilled both on the refreshment and juice sides of things. It is liquid that you pour down your gullet when there is nothing else, that is all.

Topo Chico: I went to Austin in 2019 and learned Topo Chico was catching on, fast. With citric acid, Topo Chico and its flavored varieties have that kind of slightly effervescent mouth pucker that makes you want another sip, but inevitably leaves you thirsty afterwards.

Polar: Back in the old days, this is what flavored seltzer was. It is a true seltzer in the sense that the (lime) flavor is very very subdued. medium carbonation. A very mild, inoffensive drink. It's likely not updated in profile since the 80's.

Trader Joe's Sparkling Water: Not bad for a generic brand. The seltzer tasted watery, and the lime is natural flavor rather than juice (like Spindrift), but it’s blended in a way that it has a juicier taste than Polar. Bubbles are very medium. Soft mouthfeel. Maybe some calcium carbonate or other salts added.

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