My brother, Jon, introduced me to hard seltzer back in 2014 on route to the beach over a long holiday weekend. It did not take long for me to appreciate the refreshing drinkability of hard seltzer. And I am not alone – the U.S hard seltzer market is expected to nearly triple in 2020 to $4.3 billion!
Commercial hard seltzer is often fermented cane sugar-water but on the homebrew scale it can also be made by blending spirits into water (i.e vodka soda). I went back and forth on the production method when conceptualizing the Mountain Seltzer #1 recipe but after listening to the Drink Beer Think Beer podcast with Mitch Ermantinger of Speciation Artisan Ales, I opted for the former.
Ermantinger began brewing hard seltzer after Celiac Disease crippled his beer drinking ability. His brewing process at Speciation is beautifully simple; combine beet sugar, filtered water and whole fruit (~1 lb/gal) to achieve a specific gravity of 1.036. Next, heat to 100°F and pitch Lalbrew Voss Kveik Ale Yeast. That’s it!
Untappd shows Speciation has released four different hard seltzers to date; Starwisp (raspberries and orange zest), Solar Sail (rhubarb and hibiscus), Multiplanetary (apricots and cherry juice) and Biosphere (gooseberries and Lotus hops) with scores ranging from 3.67 to 3.80.
For Mountain Seltzer #1, I used dextrose (corn sugar) instead of beet sugar, since I had plenty on hand from my bottle conditioning days. I combined the 2.13 lb of dextrose with 3.12 gal of distilled water and boiled for 15 minutes with 1.40 g Wyeast Beer Nutrient Blend. Next, I chilled the seltzer down to 100°F before adding 3.1 lb Vintner’s Harvest Grapefruit Purée and half of a pack of Imperial Yeast A43 – Loki kveik yeast.
Because my fermentation chamber was occupied with Mountain Sour #5, I fermented Mountain Seltzer #1 inside at ambient temperature (~70°F). I will begin monitoring the specific gravity and flavor development after two weeks. Once fully attenuated, I will transfer Mountain Seltzer #1 into a keg and force carbonate to 3.0 volumes before packaging into cans.
Lastly, drawing inspiration from Jester King Brewery, Mountain Saison #3 will be refermented with the “spent” grapefruit for a subtle, nuanced fruit character.
The Mountain Seltzer #1 recipe can be found here: https://share.brewfather.app/0NND2waNYTtqJh