What Everyone Gets Wrong About Hard Seltzer, According To Truly Hard Seltzer's Casey O'Neill - Exclusive

Is there a beverage category more misunderstood than hard seltzer? In beverage parlance, Alcohol.org explains that the word "hard" refers to an alcoholic beverage produced through distillation, while "seltzer" if of course just plain old carbonated water. However, in the five or so years since hard seltzer exploded onto the alcoholic beverage market and into the eager hands of the young, sensation-craving yet health conscious masses (via Vox), the phrase has come to mean far more than the sum of its seemingly basic parts. Now, the fastest growing brand in the hard seltzer category (as shared in a press release), Truly Hard Seltzer is on a mission to set the record straight. Using psychedelic cartoons and a live-action assist by Grammy-winning mega-star Dua Lipa, Truly's new 30-second ad for its Hard Seltzer drives home that hard seltzer means raucous flavor — multiple raucous flavors, in fact (via YouTube). 

Of course, 30 seconds isn't nearly enough time to fully capture what hard seltzer actually is and what it is not. For that, we turned to Casey O'Neill, Director of Product Development at The Boston Beer Company (home of Sam Adams, Dogfish Head, and Angry Orchard), who, in an exclusive interview with Mashed, sorted out the hard seltzer facts from the fizzy fiction and, once and for all, addressed the things that everyone still gets wrong about hard seltzer. 

Truly is not your average canned cocktail

Truly Hard Seltzer's Dua Lipa ad campaign clarifies that hard seltzer isn't simply a canned vodka soda, but rather, a unique drink that comes in a multitude of flavors (the brand has 27 at the time of this writing, according to its website) — but what still may not be clear is what you're actually drinking when you pop one open. Luckily for us, there's no one better qualified to sort that out than Casey O'Neill. O'Neill came up with the idea for Truly, saw it through development, and continues to oversee the creation of refreshing new flavors; O'Neill was even there when Truly came to be known as "hard seltzer" after initially being categorized as "spiked and sparkling"  — and therein lies the key to what everyone gets wrong about hard seltzer.

Sparkling or not, many canned cocktails get their "spike" from malt liquor, O'Neill explained to Mashed in an exclusive interview. By contrast, hard seltzer has come to signify a bubbly and "sessionable" alcoholic beverage (meaning that you can drink it over an extended period of time without losing your wits). Instead of malt liquor, Truly's alcohol content comes from fermented cane sugar. The result is refreshing, clean, and flavorful, while being fairly low in both sugar and alcohol — the brand's offerings top out around 1 gram of sugar and 5% ABV for most flavors. 

Truly Hard Seltzer is set to launch even more fun and refreshing flavors, so be on the lookout for what the creative beverage line and Casey O'Neill delight us with next.