Good Beer Hunting

Fervent Few

The Fervent Few — Let's Get Fizzical

Now that seltzer is definitely more than just a fad, we can’t stop thinking about flavored malt beverages (or FMBs, for those who are down with the lingo). This week, we asked The Fervent Few if they ever reach for an FMB over beer—and, if so, which brands capture their attention.


Matt Paonessa: “I never reach for them over beer, nor do I avoid them. But I'm not above crushing hard seltzers like the Claw is law. Yes, I'd really much rather drink a beer, but there's a time and place for every drink. Sometimes they can taste way too artificially flavored. Other times they can hit a very certain spot—like when you're on a beach or on a boat with your flippy floppies.”

Andrés Muñoz: “Here’s a confession: I don’t hate Smirnoff Ice. It could be because I got Iced so much in college, but I think they’re very refreshing and have good flavors. I avoid everything else though, especially the seltzers. I just don’t like seltzer water at all. It’s probably because, back when I was eight years old, my mom took me to a buffet and I wanted to drink one of every soda they had. I pressed the seltzer button, saw the color and thought, ‘must taste like Sprite.’ Yo. It did NOT taste like Sprite. Scarred me ’til this very day.”

Manny Gumina: “I never reach for them over beer, though I try not to be that righteous beer snob when others are drinking them. I think most people assume FMBs are much healthier than they actually are. I could be wrong, but to me, not all calories are created equal. With that in mind, I feel much more comfortable drinking fermented maltose compared to fermented sucrose. Hard seltzers are to beer what vaping is to cigarettes...maybe?”

Chris Cohen: “Honestly, how hard is it to get fizzy water, flavored or otherwise, and then to add some booze to it? Why do I need someone else to make this for me? I'm a fan of the ‘there's a time and place for every beer’ rule, but when it comes to what is essentially making cocktails or spritzers, or just pouring some rum/vodka/gin/amaro/etc. into a La Croix, I'll handle that myself—in some cases by literally gulping some down and then topping up the can with liquor. I've never had a cocktail from a can that was decent enough to make me want to stop making them myself. This trend reeks of laziness. Also, other than the marginally lower calories, any major perceived health benefits of hard seltzer vs. light beer are evidence of lifestyle marketing at work. Most light beers/Pilsners have about the same as, or only slightly more than, White Claw’s 110 calories. Presumably, those customers are not choosing between a Barleywine and a hard seltzer, so it's safe to compare seltzer to a lighter beer.”

Matthew Curtis: “These style of drinks were huge in the U.K. in the late ’90—we called them alcopops. Over here they seem to have been phased out by fizzy, heavily sweetened fruit ‘ciders’ (they are not ciders) such as Rekoderlig and Kopparberg. I have a bitter palate so I struggle with hard seltzer, but when I’m not in a beer mood I’ll often grab a bottle of amaro or vermouth and pour it over ice, top it up with tonic water (Mediterranean-style tonic with angostura bark is a particular fave), and finish with a big ol’ slice of lemon. If I had my own bar I’d keg it en masse and serve it on tap.”

Matthew Modica: “I’ve tasted almost all the available ones in Chicago, and I have to say they’re pretty good. I have cut a lot of sugar out of my diet and lost a lot of weight as a result. As a beer salesperson, however, they are killing me at retail, and because of that I don’t really want to support them. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking something that might keep your cards at the table, but I do not buy these. I’ve simply switched from gin and tonics to gin and soda with splashes of different iced teas at home. I would never reach for one of these drinks if I had to pay.”

Neal Buck: “I'm just not interested in them. The purpose of La Croix and the like is to be a refreshing and non-alcoholic alternative to beer, wine, or liquor. I have no need for alcoholic seltzers or hard sodas or whatever. The alcohol in booze is the least interesting part of booze to me. Alcohol is a necessary byproduct of making fermented beverages, and it's a necessary flavor component of those beverages. In some hypothetical world where I could experience the full range of beer flavors and aromas without the alcohol, I'd be into that. By contrast, adding alcohol to something merely for the purpose of having it contain alcohol just seems strange to me. In short, I drink enough alcohol from traditional categories that I need my water just to be water.”

Are you a fan of hard seltzers, sodas, and other non-beer alternatives? Join The Fervent Few and let us know what you’re drinking when you aren’t drinking beer.

Hosted by Jim Plachy