Five Cincinnati Breweries Offering Their Own Hard Seltzer and Sparkling Spirits

With the rising national popularity of spiked seltzer, it only makes sense that local breweries would follow suit, offering their own version for those interested in lower-calorie drinking and fruity flavors

click to enlarge Braxton's Vive hard seltzer and Karrikin's Sparkling Spirit - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Braxton's Vive hard seltzer and Karrikin's Sparkling Spirit

Starting several years ago, everyone from millennials to boomers started consuming massive amounts of LaCroix. And it wasn’t long before adult beverage brands jumped on that fizzy cultural zeitgeist, creating their own spiked sparkling water trend and riding it all the way to the slim-canned bank. According to a 2019 VOX article, sales of hard seltzer could be worth as much as $2.5 billion by 2021. 

A big name in the hard seltzer game is White Claw, the gluten-free, 100 calorie, low-carb, easy drinker that is, in fact, gender neutral and only 5 percent alcohol by volume. And while sparkling alcoholic beverages have been around for a while (think Zima), the hard seltzers of today cater toward those looking to lead a health-conscious, “guilt-free” lifestyle. So with the rising national popularity of spiked seltzer, it only makes sense that local breweries would follow suit, offering their own version for those interested in lower-calorie drinking and fruity flavors. 

March First Brewing

March First got into the seltzer game in November 2018 when they introduced their hard seltzer as a test batch. “No other local brewery was making one at the time and our customers were asking for it,” says Josh Engel, marketing manager for March First. “We get a lot of people in our taproom that aren’t beer drinkers looking for our ciders or spirits. The next step to take was seltzer.” The 110 calorie, gluten-free, 5 percent ABV drink is currently available on tap at March First and various restaurants. But the beverage is being relaunched and rebranded in early March as Astra, a tribute to Ohio’s history of space flight pioneers. The new cans will feature images of space and first come in Bomb Pop and Saturn Peach flavors. 7885 E. Kemper Road, Sycamore Township, marchfirstbrewing.com. 

Rivertown Brewery 

Rivertown debuted its Lumin spiked sparkling mineral water last summer. “We wanted to focus on the taste and profile of the water being used while hitting all the expectations that consumers have come to love about the Hard Water category: low calorie/carbs/sugar/gluten-free,” said Jason Roeper, co-owner of Rivertown, during the launch. Made with water from the Great Miami aquifer, cane sugar, yeast and natural fruit essence, Lumin clocks in at 5.5 percent ABV, 100(ish) calories and has less than 2 grams of carbs. It’s available on tap at Rivertown. 6550 Hamilton Lebanon Road, Monroe, rivertownbrewery.com.

Karrikin Spirits Co. 

Karrikin, a restaurant and craft distillery, conceptualized its “Sparkling Spirit” when co-founder Jeff Hunt noticed non-beer drinkers were complaining about the sugary content of popular non-beer options. Launched in April 2019, the carbonated and canned drinks are made with a base of Karrikin’s house-distilled alcohol and come in five flavors: Keylime, Punch, Hoptonic, Apple and Blueberry. For example, Hoptonic is made with Emerge gin and tonic water. At 4.75 percent ABV (except Apple, which is 6 percent) and calories as low as 113, Hunt says the gluten-free drinks offer “real spirits, real fruit (and) truly craft blended flavors.” Sparkling Spirit is available at the restaurant or in cans at distributors including Kroger, Jungle Jim’s and The Party Source. 3717 Jonlen Drive, Fairfax, karrikinspirits.com.

Braxton Brewing Co.

Braxton’s take on hard seltzer, Vive, hit Cincinnati shelves in March 2019 after a year of product development. At 100 calories, 5 percent ABV and 2 grams of carbs, Vive comes in eight different flavors — including Grapefruit, Mango, Dragonfruit and Blood Orange — and is packaged exclusively in slim 12-ounce cans. In terms of flavor? Mitch Barnhill, Braxton’s head of marketing, describes Vive as a “crisp, refreshing spiked sparkling water with real fruit taste in every can.” 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, braxtonbrewing.com.

Fifty West 

Fifty West debuted their take on the seltzer craze after the New Year. Quencher is an “activated ale” and not a seltzer, but it does embrace the same health trend and fruit taste. Available in cans, the 100-calorie brew has “a bone-dry finish and a bright watermelon flavor,” says Chris Hughes, visual content and social media manager for Fifty West. The 4.1 percent ABV drink was “crafted specifically for people pursuing a balanced and active lifestyle.” It has no added sugars but it does have added electrolytes. Quencher is available on tap at Fifty West and in cans at Kroger stores. 7668, 7605 Wooster Pike, Columbia Township, fiftywestbrew.com.

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