Katie’s Beer School Blog is expanding, and with it becoming your one stop shop for unsolicited seltzer pack reviews. While we have shared some of our old reviews with members of the group, this review will be the unofficial start of the public beer/seltzer review section! So why seltzers? While co-founder Derek is a huge beer afficionado, he has always appreciated the simple complexity of hard seltzers. While at their essence, hard seltzers are just carbonated water and ethanol, the diversity of sweeteners, flavorings, and adjuncts have made them an area ripe for creativity. In addition, their low abv and light body make them easy to crush and a perfect after work drink. With this series we hope to share some of our love of seltzers and steer readers in the direction of the best mixed packs on the market.
So to begin today, what better way to celebrate a return from the -30F Minnesota windchills over Christmas than to pretend it is summer by drinking White Claw’s Surf pack. While I have had White Claws in the past (dare I say many times), I have never actually purchased any of their mixed packs. I purchased the last Surf pack at the grocery store today, on delayed recommendation from my sister, hoping to up my “rad” factor and pretend like people in the Midwest known anything about waves. White claws are spiked seltzers, not fermented cane sugar, and the flavors in this pack are sweetened with cane sugar and juice concentrates (which tend to produce rich flavors [See Boulevard Quirk Review]). The flavors included in this pack are Citrus Yuzu Smash, Tropical Pomelo Smash, Watermelon Lime Smash, and Wildberry Acai Smash.
In drinking order:
Tropical Pomelo Smash: Rich smell of sweet grapefruit. Medium carbonation with a light but sweet flavor on the front end. Slight tartness on the finish which leaves a dry feeling in the back of the mouth. Sweetness is definitely high, along with the lower carb makes it feel heavier in general. I think this could’ve benefitted from being overcarbed to make it pop more. Predominant flavor feels more like fruit flavored sugar than fruit, needs a little more complexity, maybe an additional ingredient to make it stand out.
Verdict: Not worth buying a pack for, middle of the road
Citrus Yuzu Smash: Kind of smells like lemon lime soda. I’ve had a few yuzu flavored things in the past but not enough to know what yuzu is supposed to taste like. I can best describe the seltzer flavor as sweet lemonade with a anise finish. More complex than the pomelo smash but I have the same criticisms with the carb level and the sweetness. I think more carb and slightly less sugar would’ve really benefitted these.
Verdict: Unique, but not sold on it as a flavor
Watermelon Lime Smash: Strong watermelon candy smell. Taste is straight watermelon candy, don’t really get any lime. The watermelon flavor is not necessarily bad, better than a jolly rancher which usually is what the watermelon seltzers taste like, but this one would really benefit from upping the lime and increasing the acidity to take away from the watermelon sweetness.
Verdict: One note and done better elsewhere, pass.
Wildberry Acai Smash: So I recently tried this one and it convinced me to try out the pack because of its uniqueness. Smell is strong dark berries, kind of like a blueberry smoothie. Flavor wise it is definitely the most complex. Lots of the “wildberry” up front; blackberry, blueberry, seedy flavor. Again kind of reminiscent of something you’d get at Jamba Juice. On the back end you get that characteristic Acai flavor, which is not a personal favorite for me but does add a nice complexity to the seltzer. The flavors in this one help to balance the sweetness and make it the most well balanced of the bunch.
Verdict: Unique and tasty, the highlight of the pack
Final Verdict: The pack has some nice ideas with the yuzu and acai, but overall falls short on the execution. The few successes are bogged down by too much sugar and a lack of complexity. The Wildberry Acai Smash does shine, but it’s not enough on its own to justify buying the pack.