Why "seltzperts" still dominate the discourse
What we can learn from this week's viral hard seltzer blind-tasting
Hard seltzer is one of those things that people love to talk shit about even though they probably secretly indulge in it, like abortions, or FeetFinder.com. This condescension takes a few familiar forms. You’ve got garden-variety misogyny; anti-commodity apprehension; skepticism and even litigation over composition and provenance; and populist critiques of taste. Writing last week for The Atlantic, Amanda Mull took the latter angle for a spin, attributing the present glut of mediocre hard seltzer to the fact that a bunch of brands saw White Claw’s success towards the end of last decade and “rushed into the market without any idea of what it would look like when people began buying hard seltzer not because it was funny or novel, but because they actually wanted to drink it.”
Amanda is really sharp, and while I have some weeds-y quibbles with her column—Drizly data isn’t the best proxy for overall market performance, for example—I think she’s bang-on regarding the hard seltzer segment’s drinkability problem. There are some good hard seltzers, and a lot of bad ones, and newcomers to the category who first sip the latter may not bother spending more time and money to track down the former.1 Still, though fermented hard seltzer’s moment in the zeitgeist may be coming to a close, the limelight hasn’t dimmed just yet. Don’t just take my word for it: ask a “seltzpert.”
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The TikTok video above, starring self-proclaimed “seltzpert” Loryn Powell, went viral on Twitter this week, and at the time of writing has racked up over 10 million views between the two platforms. It is your fearless Fingers editor’s considered opinion that from this widely shared media snippet, we can divine not only hard seltzer’s future, but a solid snapshot of a single-serve ready-to-drink beverage-alcohol segment’s lifecycle. Let’s gaze into the crystal ball, shall we?