In the age-old battle of beverages, we’re about to dive into a refreshing showdown: Hard Seltzer vs. Beer! Whether you’re at a backyard barbecue, a beach bonfire, or simply unwinding after a long day, the question often lingers – Which one is the healthier choice?
In this blog post, we’ll be uncorking the pros and cons of both hard seltzer and beer, giving you the lowdown on what makes each one tick.
Plus, we’ll serve up some handy tips on how to choose a better hard seltzer and a better brew, ensuring that your next sip is not only enjoyable but also aligned with your health goals.
So, grab a seat, and let’s raise a glass (or a can) to a spirited exploration of the hard seltzer vs beer debate!
Understanding Hard Seltzer
What Is Hard Seltzer
Alcoholic sparkling waters, or “spiked seltzers,” seemingly came out of left field a few years ago. Loved for their refreshing taste, and lower calorie, sugar, and carb counts, they snowballed in popularity.
The alcohol content typically ranges from 4% to 6%, making it lighter than most beers or spirits.
Most varieties are gluten-free, contributing to their widespread appeal. Let’s take a closer look at hard seltzer.
The ingredients in hard seltzer are simple:
However, it’s how these simple ingredients are put together that’s the hard part. Check out this infographic on how hard seltzer is made for a full explanation of the process.
How To Select A Better Seltzer
Most of the spiked seltzers on the market today hover around the same price range, calorie count, and serving size. Keep the following in mind when selecting a new favorite.
Choosing what’s delicious to you will be more satisfying. What flavors do you generally like? There are many options.
Some varieties are sweetened with stevia. Stevia is a plant leaf. The stevia found in most beverages is an extract of only the compound (“reb a”) that makes things taste sweet. It doesn’t provide any nutritional value. Discuss your choice with your healthcare practitioner.
Too sweet? A handful of seltzer-like products are mixed with a good amount of fruit juice. This is important to be aware of to manage your overall sugar intake.
It’s not just Budweiser anymore! There’s always something new to discover out there in the world of beer. Here’s a quick overview.
1. Lager: A popular choice among many, lagers are known for their crisp and clean taste. They are fermented at lower temperatures, resulting in a smooth finish. From light pilsners to rich bocks, lagers offer a wide range of options to suit various palates.
2. Ale: Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains at warmer temperatures, giving them a more robust and fruity character compared to lagers. Pale ales, IPAs (India Pale Ales), stouts, and porters fall under this category. With their diverse spectrum of flavors, ales cater to those seeking bolder experiences.
3. Wheat Beer: These brews feature a significant proportion of wheat alongside malted barley. Hefeweizen from Germany and witbier from Belgium are two well-known examples that exhibit refreshing citrusy notes and often have hints of clove or banana in their flavor profiles.
4. Stout: Dark as midnight but full of surprises! Stouts boast roasted malt flavors with hints of coffee or chocolate undertones that can be found in dry stouts or sweet milk stouts alike. Guinness is perhaps the most iconic example worldwide.
5. Sour Beer: For those who crave tangy tipples, sour beers bring an exciting twist to the table! The brewing process involves introducing wild yeast or bacteria strains that contribute unique tartness ranging from mildly sour to lip-puckeringly intense.
6. Craft Beer: In recent years, craft breweries have gained immense popularity as they focus on creating small-batch beers bursting with creativity and innovation across all styles mentioned above – plus countless others! Craft beer enthusiasts can expect a wide array of flavors, experimenting with ingredients such as fruits, spices, or even barrel-aging techniques.
Have you ever wondered just what’s in that glass or bottle of beer?
First up, we have water – the unsung hero of beer production. Water quality can greatly affect the taste and character of a brew.
Breweries carefully select their water source to ensure it has the right mineral content for optimal fermentation.
Next on our list is malted barley. Barley provides the sugars necessary for yeast to work its magic and turn them into alcohol.
The malting process involves soaking barley in water, allowing it to germinate, then drying it in a kiln. This gives us different types of malt with varying flavors, from light and bready to dark and roasty.
Hops come next, adding both bitterness and aroma to your favorite brews. These little green cones balance out the sweetness from malted barley while imparting floral, citrusy, or piney notes.
Brewers carefully choose specific hop varieties to create unique flavor profiles that range from crisp and refreshing to bold and intense.
Yeast is perhaps one of the most crucial ingredients in brewing as it ferments those sugars we mentioned earlier into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.
There are two main types: ale yeast (top-fermenting) which works at warmer temperatures producing fruity flavors; lager yeast (bottom-fermenting) prefers cooler temperatures resulting in cleaner-tasting beers.
Lastly, some brewers may add things like fruits, spices or even coffee beans during brewing for an extra twist of flavor.
How To Select A Better Beer
1. Watch Your ABV (Alcohol by Volume): One way to choose a healthier beer is by paying attention to its alcohol content. Opting for beers with lower ABV can help reduce the number of empty calories and lower your alcohol intake. Light beers or session IPAs usually have an ABV below 5%, making them excellent choices for those watching their calorie consumption.
2. Embrace Craft Brews: Craft breweries often prioritize quality ingredients and brewing techniques, resulting in tastier and more wholesome beers. Look out for craft brews that use organic hops and malted grains, as these tend to be free from harmful pesticides and artificial additives.
3. Seek Out Low-Calorie Options: If you’re conscious of your caloric intake but still want to enjoy beer, go for low-calorie alternatives like light lagers or pilsners. These typically have fewer carbohydrates and less sugar compared to heavier styles like stouts or porters.
4. Explore Gluten-Free Beers: For individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, gluten-free beers are becoming increasingly popular. Made from alternative grains such as sorghum, millet, or rice, these beers offer full flavor.
Hard Seltzer Vs Beer: Which Is Healthier
Pros And Cons Of Hard Seltzer
- Convenience. Usually sold in cans, they’re easy to transport to a picnic or a friend’s house (compared to a similar drink, the vodka and club soda). They don’t require having another mixer, or even a glass of ice, at the ready.
- Versatility. They come in various flavors such as lemon-lime, black cherry, mango, raspberry, and even unique combinations like cucumber-melon or grapefruit-rosemary. These delightful flavors make them an excellent choice for those who prefer something different from traditional beer or cocktails.
- Control. The can is a single serving which makes it easier to control portions. Unlike a glass of wine which may vary in size depending on who pours and refills it, when you drink a can you know you’ve had one serving. A nice thing about seltzer makers is that they more commonly share nutrition information on the package than wine, beer, and liquor.
- Gluten and Vegan Friendly. Hard seltzers are often gluten-free and vegan-friendly since they are primarily made from fermented sugar rather than barley malt like beer.
- Lower Sugar Content. Another appealing aspect of hard seltzers is their relatively low sugar content compared to many other sweetened alcoholic drinks.
- Lower Calories. Spiked seltzers are approximately 100 calories per 12 ounces serving, as compared to:
* Beer: ~150 calories per 12-ounce serving
*Wine: ~ 120 calories per 5-ounce serving
*Spirits: ~ 100 calories per 1.5 ounces serving, and commonly paired with a caloric mixer
NOTE: A few seltzers are near 200 calories per 12-ounce serving, so check the label.
- Easy To Drink To Much. Some people choose seltzers for “easy drinking,” because they are light. flavored and don’t have a strong taste of alcohol. This isn’t better if it keeps you from being aware of how much alcohol you are consuming. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines currently recommend limiting alcohol consumption to 1 beverage daily for women and no more than 2 beverages daily for men.
- Don’t Double Down. Hard seltzer is not a mixer. They already contain alcohol, so more could double your intake at every sip.
- Digestive Woes. Carbonated beverages don’t sit right with everyone. If you’re working with your practitioner on your digestion, taking supplements or medication to improve your digestion, talk to them first before trying bubbles of any kind including spiked seltzer. Likewise, if you notice digestive issues occurring when or after drinking spiked seltzers, revert back to something without bubbles or skip the booze for a week or two to see if things settle internally.
- Don’t Be Fooled, It’s Not Hydrating: Many people assume that spiked seltzer is hydrating because it contains water. It certainly can be refreshing, but it is not physiologically hydrating. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and while drinking alcohol. Remember that in all forms, alcohol is a diuretic. Especially in summertime, drink water alongside your hard seltzer, and focus on meeting your potassium needs to support better hydration.
Pros And Cons Of Beer
- Culinary Adventure: Beer is incredibly versatile when it comes to pairing it with various foods. From hearty stouts complementing grilled meats to hoppy IPAs balancing spicy dishes, there is a beer style for almost every culinary occasion.
- Versatile Cooking Ingredient: From savory stews infused with rich malty flavors to light batters that result in crispy dishes like fish and chips – there are countless culinary possibilities when incorporating beer into recipes.
- Rich History and Culture: Appreciating beer can be an educational journey through time. Exploring different brewing techniques from around the world allows us to learn about diverse cultures while developing an appreciation for their traditions and craftsmanship.
- Variety: There’s lots of different types of beer to choose from so you’ll never run. out of options.
- Empty Calories Galore: Beer is notorious for being high in calories without providing any significant nutritional value. A standard 12-ounce (355 ml) serving of regular beer contains around 150-200 calories, depending on the brand. These empty calories can easily add up if you’re not mindful of your consumption.
- Weight Gain: Regularly consuming excess calories from beer can contribute to weight gain over time. Since alcohol itself is calorie-dense, those who frequently drink beer may find it harder to maintain a healthy weight or shed a few pounds.
- Nutrient Depletion: Drinking too much alcohol, including beer, can interfere with nutrient absorption in the body. Alcohol affects the liver’s ability to store essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, folate, zinc, magnesium, etc., which are crucial for overall well-being.
- Impaired Digestion: Alcohol acts as an irritant to the digestive system by increasing acid production in the stomach and slowing down digestion processes. This can lead to discomfort such as bloating or indigestion after enjoying a few beers.
- It’s Got Gluten: For folks with specific dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerance or celiac disease, beer can pose challenges due to its traditional use of barley malt containing gluten proteins. However, the market has expanded to offer gluten-free and alternative grain-based beers for those of us on a gluten – free diet.
- Hydration Hurdles: Beer’s diuretic effect means that it increases urine production within the body—resulting in potential dehydration if consumed excessively or without proper hydration practices. It’s crucial to balance beer consumption with adequate water intake, especially during extended social gatherings or physical activities.
Conclusion: Hard Seltzer Vs Beer Showdown
Drumroll…hard seltzer vs beer — which is healthier? While hard seltzer may have an edge in the calorie and carb department, they both may contribute to digestive and hydration woes.
And then there’s the fact they both contain alcohol which can be problematic for some of us. So which one is better for you? At the end of the day it really comes down to which one you enjoy most in moderation. Moderation and balance are key here.
While advertising and social media may make it seem like hard seltzer is the healthier choice, don’t be fooled. If you overdo it with anything, be it food or alcohol, it’s not gonna be healthy for you.
For example, just because your favorite brand of potato chips now proclaim to be gluten-free and vegan doesn’t mean those chips are a health food. The same goes for hard seltzer and beer.
My advice? If you drink, choose the hard seltzer or beer that you like the most as it’ll be more satisfying to you and only drink in moderation. Have a glass of water between alcoholic drinks to help you stay hydrated. And make sure to eat before drinking — foods like nuts and seeds, greek yogurt, bananas, eggs, and salmon are a few good options.
Which one is your favorite to sip on — hard seltzer or beer? Leave a comment and let me know!
***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***