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Locally Brewed: Seltzer time

How local brewers corner a bubbling trend in the craft beer market
Updated: May. 22, 2021 at 1:32 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A popular brew, popping up in taprooms across the country, is finding its own popularity right here in Southeast Louisiana as local brewers master the trend, but while you’ll find it pouring at a handful of local spots, what’s in the glass is pretty far from your typical lager.

“It’s not technically a beer,” Patrick Brown, owner of 504 Craft Beer Reserve, said, “But I think a lot of breweries are now making seltzers. It’s a very inexpensive way and I think actually seltzers have helped a few breweries stay alive.”

Seltzers, the black sheep of the brewery family, are hotter than a Louisiana summer. The alcoholic bubbly waters, in some cases, started almost by accident, like at Urban South Brewery, where the spritzy brew found its way to a tap.

“We’re not ashamed to say okay we’ll pull that beer back and put something else out there and that’s kind of how the seltzers came around,” Alex Flores, the head brewer at Urban South, said, “We were playing around, and we put some on tap and people really responded to it and we said, ‘let’s try the Rocket Pop Gose,’ and we turned that into a seltzer raspberry limeade.”

“It’s a category that seemingly came out of nowhere and is growing I think everyone at this point is wanting to release a seltzer,” Abby Perkins, with Urban South, said.

Mitch Grittman, the brewer at Zony Mash Beer Project, saw the seltzer trend as a chance to offer even more to the growing crowds at the brewery.

“I was like, ‘I think I can make that.’ So, it was almost kind of a personal challenge for myself to see how can I make something different than what I’m used to making that is a portion of the market that is exploding right now,” Grittman said.

He took it as more than just a challenge to meet a demand in the market, his Zony Pop is an answer to the people who might normally turn their nose up at the untraditional brew.

“I wanted it to be really delicious, something that if you’re a beer drinker you would taste it and say, ‘okay maybe that’s not bad,’ but also a big part of what we’re trying to do here is have options for everybody and just because it’s not necessarily a beer in the traditional sense, it’s something that people love,” Grittman said.

“Some of these are delicious, they’re adding fruit, late addition fruit, so they’re not artificial, no syrupy aspects, some of them are gorgeous,” Brown said.

“With our Lime Cucumber Hard Seltzer, we’re actually juicing the cucumbers in-house putting fresh cucumber juice in it and lime as well,” Abby Perkins, with Urban South, said.

Abita Brewery is also establishing its own seltzer brand, using the same main ingredient in their beer, to give their adult fizzy water a little something extra.

“We’ve got fantastic spring water, we’d be foolish not to showcase it in Spring Loaded our hard seltzer and since we’re known for that and our fans want it we’re not stuffy or idealist, we want to have fun and if we’re not having fun what are we doing,” David Blossman, president of Abita Brewing Company, said.

While a beer purist may still stray away from seltzer, it’s the brewers that see this stuff as more savvy than sacrilege that are leading the effervescent charge.

“Yeah sure, it’s sacrilege, but it’s delicious, so why not? I like making things and sure is it beer? No, not really, but who cares,” Grittman said.

You can find the local breweries near you on the map below:

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