Seltzer is a very good beverage. It’s bubbly, refreshing, flavorful (if you so desire), and a solid alternative when water gets too boring. But like all beverages, it’s a lot better when it’s boozy—so the folks at Wachusett Brewing Company in Massachusetts decided to transform our beloved bubbly water into a malt beverage and put it in a can for easy imbibing.
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Nauti Seltzer, a play on “nautical” and, yes, a wink and a nod to the drink’s booziness, is a marked departure from the company’s typical offerings—beer.
“We needed to figure out something a little bit outside the box to keep relevant and add a bit of a fire,” TJ Morse, the brewery’s director of sales and marketing, told us. Released on March 28th, each 12-ounce can has 110 calories and two grams of sugar and comes in at 5 percent alcohol by volume.
If you were a drinker during the Four Loko craze of the late aughts, Nauti Seltzer will probably bring back some memories. It definitely tastes like seltzer—it still brings that vaguely earthy punch—but it comes in four fruity flavors: cranberry, grapefruit, lemon-lime, and raspberry. Unlike Four Loko, however, the malt flavor isn’t too strong, and it goes down fairly easily. And unlike similar beverages—Smirnoff Ice or Twisted Tea, for instance—it doesn’t taste like it has a day’s worth of sugar in one can.
After sampling each flavor, I can unequivocally declare that grapefruit is the best. It actually tastes like a grapefruit (well, as much as a flavored malt beverage can, anyway) and goes surprisingly well with the unmistakable taste of malt liquor. Lemon-lime is a close second—like grapefruit, the flavor mixes nicely with the taste of alcohol—but it’s a little bland. Unfortunately, the raspberry flavor doesn’t really taste like a raspberry, and the taste disappears pretty quickly. Cranberry is more akin to actual cranberry juice than cranberry juice cocktail, but if that’s your thing, you’ll probably enjoy it more than I did.
Of course, these four paltry flavors can’t compare to the wealth of flavors regular seltzer comes in. But Nauti Seltzer—and others like it, such as SpikedSeltzer and Truly Spiked & Sparkling—have an obvious advantage: they get you drunk. (You can, of course, just mix regular seltzer with alcohol, but I’m lazy, so the drink-in-a-can concept is appealing.)
According to Morse, Nauti Seltzer is designed as a summertime beverage, which makes sense: It’s marketed as a lighter, fruitier alternative to beer. And like beer, it’s a very portable adult beverage, good for boating, golfing, barbecuing, and picnics, he said. (Or, as I like to think of it, an easy way to drink in public without getting caught.)
It also goes down more easily than beer, so beware of drinking too much too fast. (Or not!) The flavor can get a little cloying the more you drink, so I can’t imagine downing, say, six or seven cans of the stuff. But then again, like most alcoholic beverages, it gets easier to consume the drunker you get. And while the cans are meant to be guzzled on their own, it’s not hard to imagine mixing the stuff with other kinds of liquor for a particularly boozy summertime cocktail.
Alcoholic seltzer certainly won’t replace my normal Pilsner or wheat beer, but I can imagine lugging along a case to the beach or a dinner party. It’s a good, casual beverage that doesn’t completely obliterate the characteristics of its parent drink, and it’s reasonably priced—Morse said the average price for a six-pack is about $9.
Now, excuse me while I chug the remains of this grapefruit flavor.