For some time now, hard seltzers have been a staple of outdoor gatherings at Dolores Park, Lake Merritt, and open-air venues all over the Bay Area. Like a chilly, lawnmower beer, these juiced-up bubbly waters are a great way to catch a light buzz while enjoying a bit of sunshine with your carefully chosen pandemic partners.
But, unlike the myriad choices we have for locally produced beer — and the reasonable selection we have when it comes to San Francisco spirits — there have been few, if any, hard seltzers produced right here, in our backyard.
SOMA Hard Seltzer changes that. Brewed by 21st Amendment Brewery, under their SOMA side-project label, San Franciscans can now proudly shop local for their refreshing, grown-up bubbles.
Thanks to our journalistic credentials, 21st Amendment recently sent us a sampler pack of their four flavors — watermelon, guava & passion fruit, mango, and black cherry — and we gave them all a try.
We’re happy to report that they’re pretty good, and while they don’t pack quite the same alcoholic punch as White Claw or Truly, it may ultimately be to the benefit of their flavor. When freshly cracked, just out of the ice-box, they don’t bite quite as hard into the palate as their major competitors.
To our mind, even the black cherry (which we were the least enthused about) is superior to the White Claw flavor of the same name, because it doesn’t overpower the tongue with whatever it is that they use to sweeten those things. They say there’s no sugar added to White Claws, but perhaps they use more of the fruity flavoring than 21st Amendment does. The result is a crisper, lighter finish. Especially when very cold, the SOMA Hard Seltzers hit the mouth more like a La Croix than a soda.
The best flavor of the bunch is the guava & passion fruit — at least as far as we’re concerned… but hey… we hear there are people out there who don’t like pamplemousse but swear by coconut La Croix, so maybe we’re way off base.
While it’s true that there are smaller brewers based in the city that have tried their hand at craft hard seltzer, the fact that 21st Amendment is behind this product means it will be easier to find — so long as you’re in the state. They are currently only distributing to stores in California, but that is likely to change soon.
This weekend is going to be hot. And while we’re not about to encourage you to act irresponsibly during a pandemic, we are going to encourage you to drink local when you can.