The untold truth of Truly Hard Seltzer

Walking down the beverage aisle at your local supermarket, you'd be hard-pressed not to find at least one brand of hard seltzer among the many beer options. It's the malt beverage that's been taking the convenient alcohol category by storm, and at this point, it slowly but surely may just become more popular than beer, generating billions in sales along the way.

Hard seltzer is essentially an alcoholic version of sparkling water, usually with fruit infused in the mix. Truly Hard Seltzer is now among the top brands of hard seltzer, and its popularity has caught on quick. And with multiple flavor options such as black cherry, blueberry & acai, watermelon & kiwi, and even lemonade, Truly has one of the most extensive flavor lineups on the market.

But what else is there to this easy sipper? Why are so many people enamored with the concept of alcoholic seltzer? We took a closer look. This is the untold truth of Truly Hard Seltzer.

Truly Hard Seltzer first launched in bottles

As with many other hard seltzer options, Truly Hard Seltzer comes in an easily portable can, making it the perfect sipper for summers on the beach, spending the day relaxing on a boat, or even a reward after a hike. But it wasn't always that way.

Truly Hard Seltzer first launched on the market in April 2016, debuting a low-calorie alcoholic beverage in three flavors: Colima Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, and Pomegranate. And when it launched, the beverage was available in not-as-convenient glass bottles, sold as six-packs. 

But at the time of the launch, White Claw was already on the market in its bright, eye-catching portable can, and it didn't take long for Truly Hard Seltzer to follow suit. Truly launched a variety pack of its flavored beverage just four months later in August 2016, bringing its slim can design to the table in a quick and easy-to-grab 12-pack.

Truly Hard Seltzer wasn't always considered hard seltzer

When Truly Hard Seltzer officially launched on the market in 2016, a few other brands were already making their mark in similar ways. White Claw had debuted as hard seltzer, along with SpikedSeltzer, which had come out three years prior. It was a seltzer craze, with plenty of other companies jumping on the bandwagon as the category immediately grew. But Truly did something to set themselves apart, launching under the name Truly Spiked and Sparkling.

At the time, the sparkling water category had almost doubled in sales since 2012, as people were opting to drop their sugary sodas for a lighter option. The head of Truly's innovation team, Casey O'Neill, told PR Newswire that the goal was to create a refreshing sparkling water option for "when you want to imbibe." As the popularity of the category caught on in 2019 and the usage of the term "hard seltzer" became more frequent in comparison to "spiked seltzer," Truly quietly changed its name, debuting packaging that omitted the "Spiked and Sparkling" part of its name to ultimately become Truly Hard Seltzer.

Truly Hard Seltzer is the cousin of Twisted Tea

At this point, most of the major players in the alcohol game have a hard seltzer on the market. Everyone from Smirnoff to Natural Light have debuted their own brands on the ever-growing list of options.

But Boston Beer Company was ready for a slice of the pie in 2016, launching its own product, Truly Hard Seltzer, that would be of interest to a wider demographic than its long-established line of Samuel Adams beers was. But those aren't the only two brands Boston Beer Company holds. As it turns out, Truly is also in the family of Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard Cider.

And the addition to the family has certainly been beneficial. As of February 2020, Truly Hard Seltzer held 22 percent of the market share, and with that popularity, it helped to bring the value of Boston Beery Company up by 45 percent in 2019. Talk about a win-win family dynamic.

Truly Hard Seltzer has less sugar than White Claw

Part of the appeal of hard seltzer options is all because they aren't all syrupy and sweet, as opposed to their malt beverage counterparts like Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice that came before them. They're light, crisp, and refreshing, and you won't pack on the calories from sipping a few on a hot summer day.

A typical 12-ounce can of White Claw contains 100 calories with two grams of carbohydrates and two grams of sugar in the can. Compared to a 12-ounce bottle of Smirnoff Ice, with 245 calories and 32 grams of sugar, White Claw is a fantastic swap for those looking for alcoholic beverage options that don't pack a sugary calorie punch.

But Truly Hard Seltzer comes in even lower than White Claw, with 100 calories and only one gram of sugar in a comparable 12-ounce can. And while that's not an astronomical difference, it certainly can add up if you're consuming quite a few cans in a day.

The Truly Hard Seltzer recipe was revamped in 2019

Truly Hard Seltzer has certainly made its fair share of updates since launching its original product in 2016. From changing the packaging from glass bottles to cans to even quietly changing the name along the way, Truly's innovation department has certainly been busy working to keep the brand relevant over the years. And a lot has happened with the company's flavor offerings since its launch of the original three choices. Part of that change was in the recipe itself.

In October 2019, Truly Hard Seltzer announced that all 13 of its flavors at the time were being revamped with a new recipe. The goal? To introduce a bolder flavored product. Originally, Truly focused on offering a hint of fruit in their flavored hard seltzers, but this recipe revamp brought the fruit flavors forward quite a bit, amping up the overall flavor. The company reportedly spent nearly 1,500 hours on testing, and this was the second time the company had changed its recipe since its debut. 

You can get Truly Hard Seltzer on tap

Heading into a bar or restaurant with plenty of options on tap, it may feel like the world of fermented beverages is at your fingertips. From pale ales and lagers to hard ciders, there's something on tap for everyone. But Truly Hard Seltzer took that reality one step further.

Typically, the option for enjoying a hard seltzer has been to buy a six-pack or a 12-pack of cans at your local supermarket. But as of August 2019, Truly Hard Seltzer was officially available on tap as well. Boston Beer Company announced the option on its sales sheet, allowing bars and restaurants to purchase the hard seltzer option by the keg, offering the easy ability to serve it on draft. Marketed as a great alternative to a vodka soda, with the same five percent ABV as the can, the bubbly beverage is meant to be served in a glass with a squeeze of lemon or lime to finish it off.

Truly Hard Seltzer is the second highest-selling hard seltzer brand

As the hard seltzer market has continued to boom, increasing by 255 percent from 2019, plenty of other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. But White Claw Hard Seltzer and Truly Hard Seltzer continue to take top honors in the hard seltzer category, and their popularity doesn't seem to be letting up.

White Claw Hard Seltzer accounted for 54 percent of the 2019 sales of hard seltzer, and because of that outrageous surge in popularity, White Claw even faced a shortage in 2019 because it couldn't keep up with demand. And while Truly Hard Seltzer hasn't quite faced a shortage, its popularity continues to hold strong in the number two spot. Coupled with White Claw, the two hard hitters hold 85 percent of the hard seltzer category. Truly has a way to go to catch up, but it's riding on White Claw's wave pretty closely.

You can eat Truly Hard Seltzer sorbet

Let's face it, the idea that we can combine food and alcohol into a delicious, spiked dish is pretty great. And many brands are certainly taking that idea to heart. The ice cream category in particular has seen a spike in alcoholic options, and the trend just continues to catch on. Haagen-Dazs launched a boozy line of ice cream options in 2019, but it only offered .5 percent alcohol content per pint, so it wasn't much to go wild about. Then, Angry Orchard launched an ice cream option in collaboration with Tipsy Scoop at the end of 2019, with five percent ABV to boot. 

Perhaps that symbiotic relationship with Tipsy Scoop is what led to Truly's newest product debut: Truly Hard Seltzer Ice Cream and Sorbet. Just in time for summer, Truly hard Seltzer debuted sorbet and ice cream options in June 2020, each with the same five percent ABV as what you'll find in a can of Truly. Ice cream with more alcohol than a beer? Talk about a sweet summer.

Truly Hard Seltzer is made from fermented sugar

When it comes to the typical brewing process for beer, grain is toasted and turned into malt. From there, the malted grain is soaked in water, converting starch into sugars. Next, yeast is added, and throughout that process, the yeast begins to eat the sugars in the malt, ultimately releasing carbon dioxide and turning into alcohol.

Truly Hard Seltzer is certainly made by going through a similar process to beer, but it all begins with sugar instead. Truly utilizes all-natural cane sugar in its recipe, which inevitably is turned into alcohol throughout its fermentation process. Essentially, the cane sugar is swapped out for the barley in a traditional brewing method, and a particular strain of yeast is left to do its thing. Utilizing this process means that the calories left are those from the alcohol, rather than any grain or malt, and it produces a flavor-neutral base, providing the perfect canvas to add fruit flavors such as Truly Hard Seltzer's many options.

Truly Hard Seltzer has more alcohol than some beers

It's amazing to think that such a small can might actually pack a bit of a punch when it comes to alcohol content, but Truly Hard Seltzer surely can. Truly Hard Seltzer has an ABV, or alcohol by volume, of five percent per can, essentially meaning that five percent of the liquid in the can is alcohol.

Hard seltzer options are often more popular amongst consumers because they have fewer carbohydrates than some light beers while still hovering around the same calorie counts. But, even though the nutritional label may read similarly in the areas of calories, carbs, and sugars, Truly Hard Seltzer tends to come packed with a higher ABV than its popular light-beer counterparts.

A can of Bud Light or Coors Light has an ABV of 4.2 percent, whereas a Corona Extra has an ABV of 4.6 percent. And while these options are definitely lighter beers than an India Pale Ale or a heavy stout, they still have less alcohol than a simple hard seltzer.

Truly Hard Seltzer is gluten-free

More and more, the need or interest to adopt a gluten-free diet is increasing. There has been a huge surge of gluten-free choices coming on the market when it comes to food, and in 2014, millions of consumers identified that they had eliminated gluten from their diet without even suffering from celiac disease.

Celiac disease is characterized by the way the body responds to gluten. For those with the disease, the immune system responds by creating a toxin that ultimately ends up destroying villi, tiny hair-like structures in the small intestine. With these structures are destroyed, the body can't absorb nutrients as well, causing further intentional damage and issues with malnutrition. For those with an intolerance to gluten separate from celiac, the body is unable to effectively digest gluten. Either way, it's best to avoid the substance in those situations. 

Gluten is found in ingredients such as wheat, rye, and barley, which makes it impossible for those with a gluten-free diet to drink many alcoholic beverages since their recipes often begin with a grain base before adding yeast for fermentation. But because Truly Hard Seltzer is made with cane sugar, it provides the perfect option for those who are gluten-free to enjoy an alcoholic beverage without the terrible side effects.