It took me a long time to get on board with seltzers, and for a long time, I didn’t grasp why there were so many Cincinnati breweries that make seltzer. I couldn’t wrap my head around it all, and why it was so popular. I’m not going to claim that I still 100% understand why it has become so popular compared to other beverages, but I’m starting to figure it out… and I can certainly understand why places are making them.
What the people want, the people get… but before we dive into all the places that you can snag a seltzer in Cincinnati we should talk about how we got here. How did seltzer happen anyways?
How Did This Happen?
If you really want to get the full story of Seltzer, you should hop on over to Amazon and buy Barry Joseph’s book called ‘Seltzertopia’ (if you use this link it helps me out too… I’m an Amazon affiliate which means I get a little kickback). This guy dove deep into how the whole seltzer craze happened… and you can’t do much better. I can compress the important parts here for you, though.
This all started back in the day when people fell in love with mineral water. Back then, mineral water was natural, coming from the earth… it was sometimes bubbly and it tasted good. We didn’t have the know-how yet to make it, we just got it where it originated from, these towns bottled their water… and it was super popular. People thought it was medicinal, so I’m sure that didn’t hurt things at all.
Eventually we figured out how to force carbonate (or as they called it… impregnate) the water, and we could produce the stuff… it became even more popular. As we usually do, Americans came along and refused to drink the Mineral water. We liked things a little simpler – we drank straight filtered water that was carbonated… seltzer water. Things kept growing until soda and other drinks came along… then it died down for a little bit – until we realized that all that sugar wasn’t the best thing for us, and we started drinking seltzers and mineral waters again in the 80s.
All hell really started to break loose in the 2000s as LaCroix became trendy… it kept growing with an absolute fury and then in 2016 a little brand called White Claw started production. Hard seltzer opens up a door that I’m not sure will ever be closed, and it’s not just about things feeling like they might be a little “healthier” than beer or wine.
If it was as simple as people wanting to be healthy – there would be plenty of beers that would be just as popular as these hard seltzers that are filling coolers all over the country. Guess what, folks? I think there’s a much bigger thing at play here, and yes… it’s about marketing.
Cincinnati Seltzers Are Welcoming To Anyone
For decades, beer has been pushed to men. The typical drinker was portrayed as a beer-bellied grizzly man, burping with his buddies watching football and drooling at the cheerleaders like a neanderthal. Craft beer has made leaps and bounds and shaking that image and becoming more and more welcoming to other types of people. But it still isn’t perfect.
When seltzer appeared on the scene, it was different. It wasn’t marketed towards men like beer was, and it wasn’t marketed towards women like wine was. For what felt like the first time, here was a drink that was marketing for everyone. Seltzer actually feels like a clean slate, not just in flavor and appearance – but in its absolute personality too. The most successful brands have figured this out and ran with it. The simplicity of seltzer is what has made it such a success.
You can’t throw a rock without hitting a brewery that has decided to make their own seltzer, and you can’t ignore how popular this stuff has become. People are clamoring for it, which means our local breweries are most definitely answering their cries.
All The Cincinnati Seltzers, Who Makes ‘Em?
- 13 Below – Hazy Seltzer
- Offering up a plain version as well as Sour Red Cherry, Black Cherry, Pineapple, Blood Orange and Mango. It’s gluten-free, easy-drinking, and refreshing. Perfect for something a little different!
- 16 Lots – Seltzer
- Announced in the fall of 2020, 16 Lots released their Agave Lime Seltzer which seems to lean heavily into some of the flavors that make cocktail drinkers happy as well as seltzer drinkers. It toes the line and gives new options to drinkers in Mason!
- Alexandria Brewing Company – Current Hard Seltzer
- Alexandria’s ‘Current’ brand is their line of hard seltzers, available in their taproom only. With flavors so far like pear, orange creamsicle, and black cherry – they’re always working to keep things fresh and exciting for the non-beer drinkers that enter their taproom.
- Braxton Brewing – Vive
- Vive is definitely the most widely available seltzer in town, with a big marketing push behind it, I’m sure that you’ve at least seen Vive, if not tried it by now. Available flavors are Dragonfruit, Blood Orange, Cherry, and all sorts of stuff in between.
- Cellar Dweller – Valley Law Hard Seltzer
- The Valley Law brands of hard seltzer from Cellar Dweller/Valley Vineyards are just the latest in fun products that they put out to please all the palates that walk in their doors. With five current flavors, Black Cherry, Watermelon, Raspberry, Mango, and Tangerine – there’s plenty of things to try!
- Dead Low – Hard Seltzer
- There isn’t a big marketing push behind the seltzers at Dead Low, they gear them towards folks who hit up their taproom for dinner who might want something a little different than a beer. Light and loaded with real fruit – these are a must-try if you’re a fizzhead.
- DogBerry – Dog Paw
- Dog Paw wis one of the only non-beer things that you’ll find at the brewery, and for that reason… I admittedly wasn’t sure how it was going to be. The joke was on me, after having their blackberry seltzer one evening, I 100% stand corrected by this well done, clean and refreshing seltzer. It provides a great drink for those who find themselves in the taproom, even if they aren’t a big beer fan.
- Humble Monk – Halo Hard Seltzer
- Humble Monk’s Halo series of seltzers drift from the “normal” seltzer flavors to some really fun stuff like their Green Apple/Cinnamon variety. It’s a great addition to their taproom, and is also available in 16oz crowlers to take home!
- Karrikin – Modka
- After a long and geeky debate about their sparkling spirits (are they canned cocktails, seltzers, or something else entirely?) the answer has been made loud and clear. Karrikin has followed them up with a whole line of seltzers that they’ve dubbed Modka, because they are made with Karrikin’s craft vodka which gives them a brighter, cleaner taste than a lot of seltzer out there. With several flavors and some bold new branding… you’re gonna see this around a lot!
- Listermann serves up their seltzer as a base, unflavored variety that the drinker can choose to add their favorite spin to. With flavors like Arnold Palmer, Spicy Pineapple or Strawberry Lemonade, they definitely have a few things that you won’t find as much around town (and that are pretty tasty if Seltzer is what you’re looking for).
- March First/Figleaf – Astra Hard Seltzer
- March First and their sister brewery, FigLeaf are notorious for trying to keep every drinker happy when they walk in the taproom. Their Astra line of seltzer was born out of that desire early on as seltzer was becoming popular. With crazy, off the wall flavors like Bomb Pop and Saturn Peach… they have carved out a niche in the world that is as tasty as it is creative.
- Montgomery Public House – Sycamore Seltzer
- You fizz-heads have another great option if you find yourself at MPH to satisfy that craving. They keep a steady rotating selection of fruity flavors to satisfy any one of your whims.
- Mt Carmel Brewing Company
- Mt. Carmel has a pretty cool setup with their seltzer, offering up a clean, crisp and pure unflavored seltzer served in a tall highball glass. Drinkers then have the option to combine their own unique mix of natural purees to flavor it how they wish.
- Municipal Brew Works – Hard Seltzer
- Clean, refreshing, and with more flavors than you can shake a stick at, Municipal is nailing their seltzer program in their taproom. Their POG flavor is phenomenal, but the base seltzer alone is so good that anything should be worth filling your glass! They started packaging a limited amount of this to go, too – so get your cooler filled with ice, and get ready!
- Narrow Path – Brewer’s Tears
- Aside from the hilarious name, that captures how a lot of folks feel about hard seltzer – this one is actually really good from what I hear (as of writing, I haven’t had it, yet). They load them up with flavors like POG and Watermelon and they keep drinkers refreshed and happy in the summer sunshine in Narrow Path’s backyard space off the bike trail.
- Platform – Hard Seltzer
- I’m not going to go into detail right now about whether or not Platform is really a local brewery, but they’ve got a location here, and they make hard seltzer – so they make the list!
- Rebel Mettle – Hella Hard Seltzers
- They’ve been experimenting with hard seltzer for a while down at Rebel Mettle. What resulted is a new brand that represents Rebel Mettle so, so well. It’s Hella Hard Seltzer. More flavors are on the way, but to kick things off they have Hella Hard Fruit Punch.
- Rivertown – Lumin Sparkling Mineral Water
- When Rivertown was open, they spent a lot of time with their Lumin in making sure that the water at the base of their seltzer was worth drinking before they created anything around it. Their sparkling mineral water also used some really unique flavor combinations to stand out from the pack. It’s an absolute shame this brewery is closed now, because this seltzer was great.
- Rolling Mill – Seltzer
- I can’t say that I’m super surprised to see Rolling Mill quietly debut their seltzer. The brewery is 100% gluten-free, and rolling out their own seltzers in the taproom only makes sense to keep providing beverages that will please anyone who walks in their doors. Flavors currently are Cherry and Lime – and while I haven’t had the chance to try them, yet – I’m excited to when I get the chance to see what they’re up to!
- Sam Adams – Truly
- While the Sam Adams taproom might not be making any seltzer, the production brewery here in town makes a bunch of it – and it’s arguably freaking amazing. If you want something that will change your mind to what seltzers can taste like, give their line of Lemonade seltzers a try!
- Sonder – Sequel
- Sonder created their ‘Sequel’ seltzer with the idea that it’s the thing you drink if you’re not drinking beer… it’s the “sequel” to beer. They went with a recipe that is fruit-forward and fizzier than other options… crisp and refreshing!
- Sons of Toil – Hard Seltzer
- This idea seems to be the more common way to do things for a smaller place like Sons of Toil – they brew up their base seltzer, which is clean, fizzy and refreshing – then they leave it up to you to flavor it however you desire.
- Swine City – Hard Seltzer
- I didn’t think that you could come up with an idea that I hadn’t seen before until Swine City let loose their Coffee Seltzer. It’s not the only thing that they’ve done in their line of hard seltzers, dubbed ‘Drift’.
- Third Eye – Chill
- Third Eye didn’t waste any time after opening their doors to start working on their ‘Chill’ seltzer. They are working hard to create a space that is welcome to any drinkers and will push people to think differently about what it means to be “Craft” today. Seltzer is definitely a big part of that and will most likely always find a place on their tap lineup with rotating real fruit choices.
- Urban Artifact – Fruit Tart Seltzers
- Turning the Cincinnati Seltzer world on it’s head in 2021, Urban Artifact released their seltzer line immediately separating the community into two camps, those who love that they did it, and those that hate that they did it. One thing you can’t deny – these seltzers are freaking fantastic. Loaded up with tons of real fruit, they pop with a big burst of flavor, while still staying nice, clean and refreshing with just at tart snap to them. Really unique and definitely worth a try even if you’re not a seltzer fan.
- Wiedemann – Hard Seltzer
- Wiedemann keeps their base hard seltzer on tap, then takes the route of letting you choose your flavor based on your mood. With plenty of combinations to choose from, no matter what you might have a hankering for, they’ll have you covered!
- Wooden Cask – Hard Seltzer
- Wooden Cask has taken it slowly as they’re dipping their toes in the seltzer world. Their passionfruit, peach seltzer was first tapped this summer and it makes me curious to see where they go with it.
Before I get an email, there are things I didn’t include in this post. There are lots of drinks that might seem like seltzer, or serve the same purpose as seltzer (think Fifty West and their Quencher or Karrikin’s Sparkling Spirits) but these are not seltzer. This rabbit hole goes deep, too. There are lots of ‘Ready To Drink’ cocktails, and things that aren’t quite beer, but definitely aren’t seltzer either that we could talk about… but that’s for another time and place. If you want to see some other great articles about Cincinnati seltzers you can check out some of the stuff from Citybeat, or Cincinnati Magazine and get your fizz on!