While Mountain Seltzer #1 was brewed to emulate the hard seltzers from Speciation Artisan Ales, Mountain Seltzer #2 was not brewed at all.
Instead, Mountain Seltzer #2 was inspired by Brülosophy’s Brüclaw Berry Hard Seltzer. In his recipe, Marshall Schott blended filtered water, vodka, fruit flavoring, and ice to create a homemade version of White Claw hard seltzer. Eager to compare a blended hard seltzer (Mountain Seltzer #2) to a fermented one (Mountain Seltzer #1), I set out to craft my own batch.
Unlike Schott, I wanted to use real fruit purée (instead of fruit flavoring) for Mountain Seltzer #2. And to emulate White Claw’s 5% alcohol by volume and 2 g of sugar, I did a bit of arithmetic to determine the appropriate volumes of purée, vodka, and water, respectively.
White Claw’s 2 g of sugar per 12 oz. is equivalent to 5.64 g / l. Vintner’s Harvest Blood Orange fruit purée is 10 brix (on average) or 104 g / l (via VinoLab’s Gravity Density Sugar Converter). By dividing by 5.64, I determined I needed 18.44 l or ~623 oz. of total liquid volume to dilute the purée to match White Claw’s sugar content.
New Amsterdam Vodka is 40% alcohol by volume. To determine how many ounces of vodka needed to create a 5% ABV, I multiplied 5% by 623 oz. then divided by 40% to yield ~78 oz. vodka.
Subtracting both purée (49 oz.) and vodka (78 oz.) volumes from the total liquid volume (623 oz.) resulted in a water volume of 496 oz. I blended all the ingredients together into a 5 gal keg before carbonating to 3.0 volumes of carbon dioxide.
Upon tasting my first sip of Mountain Seltzer #2, I realized the purée was not intense enough to match the flavor and aroma of Mountain Seltzer #1, so I added 4 oz. of Brewer’s Best Blood Orange Natural Beer and Wine Fruit Flavoring. The fruit flavoring was the perfect complement to the purée.
The final recipe for 4.9 gal of Mountain Seltzer #2 was:
- 497 oz. (3.88 gal) distill water
- 78 oz. New Amsterdam Vodka
- 49 oz. Vintner’s Harvest Blood Orange fruit purée
- 4 oz. Brewer’s Best Blood Orange Natural Beer and Wine Fruit Flavoring
Besides the time savings, blended hard seltzer is also pursued for the cost savings. A twelve pack of White Claw costs $19.99 or $0.14 per oz. In comparison, Mountain Seltzer #2 cost $19.95 (purée) + $3.88 (distilled water) + $30.66 (vodka) + $9.49 (flavoring) for 627 oz. or $0.10 per oz, approximately 28% less than White Claw. Meanwhile, Mountain Seltzer #1 cost $17.98 (purée) + $3.00 (distilled water) + $5.00 (yeast) + $4.60 (dextrose) + $0.11 (yeast nutrient) for 384 oz or $0.08 per oz.
So Mountain Seltzer #2 is cheaper than White Claw and easier to make than Mountain Sezter #1, but how does it taste? Well if there was any left, I would do my normal review write-up but this batch did not last long! It was a delicious, easy drinking blood orange hard seltzer!
Changes For Next Time – Despite being a huge hit, I personally enjoyed brewing hard seltzer over blending it. Given the lessons learned from both Mountain Seltzer batches, there are several changes I plan to incorporate into Mountain Seltzer #3. First, I intend to use sucrose (instead of dextrose) as the primary source of sugar since a recent Brülosophy experiment demonstrated there was no perceived difference between the two. Next, I plan to increase my fruit purée to 1.5 lb / gal to improve fruit flavor and aromatics (in hopes to avoid using any fruit flavoring in the future). I also plan to use White Labs SeltzerMax Yeast Nutrient or Propper Seltzer Yeast Nutrient to avoid the sulfur off-flavor I generated in Mountain Seltzer #1. And lastly, I will avoid kveik yeast and instead use Imperial Yeast W04 Paramount, a specialized wine strain for hard seltzers.