Is Hard Seltzer Vegan? If you are like me, you have been walking down the alcoholic beverage aisle for a while now and nothing really seems to have changed. There is the white wine, there is the red wine, there is the liquor, some boxes of wine (yes, Wine still comes in a box), and finally a separate aisle for beer. It’s been that way for, like, forever. Some things never change, right? Wrong. That is because stroll down any alcohol aisle now and you will find something new. Something called “Seltzer”. Not just any kind of Seltzer, but Hard Seltzer. You see Hard Seltzer is the new beer. Don’t believe me, then just look at what is happening in the market. In 2019 sales of Hard Seltzer grew 226.4%. In comparison, Beer Sales only grew by 1%. By 2023, Statista predicts the sales volume of Hard Seltzer will be up around 340% from 82.5 million cases to a whopping 281 million cases. I think it is safe to say Seltzer’s time has finally come. But what is “Hard Seltzer”? What is it made of? Why are people flocking to it? And, most importantly, is hard seltzer vegan?
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan?
As a general rule, most hard seltzers are vegan-friendly. The alcohol found in hard seltzers does not tend to be processed with non-vegan fining agents. There are two main non-vegan ingredients to watch out for – 1. Honey in some hard seltzer iced tea varieties such as Truly’s hard seltzer iced tea range; and 2. The use of sugar that could have been processed with bone char in some hard seltzers in the United States.
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan – Why has it become so popular?
Doing some research, it appears to be a combination of two things. Firstly, Seltzers are low in carbohydrates, sugar, and calories. Just look at a can of Bud Light Seltzer (yes, Budweiser, but I will get to them shortly). A 335ml Can of Bud Light Seltzer contains:
- 100 calories
- 0g Fat
- 2g Total Carbs (of which less than 1g is Sugars)
- 25mg Sodium
- 0g Protein
Second, Millennials and Gen Z are just not as interested in beer as previous generations were. Gen Z is, in fact, the first generation to prefer other types of alcoholic beverages to beer according to a Berenberg Report. Something Hard Seltzer has started to take full advantage of.
What is Hard Seltzer?
At this point in time, you are probably wondering “What is Hard Seltzer?”.
Hard seltzer (also known as “Spiked Seltzer”, “Alcoholic Seltzer”, or “Hard Sparkling Water”) is basically spiked sparkling water. Hard seltzers tend to be made of three main ingredients – carbonated water, alcohol, and fruit flavoring.
Seltzer is produced similarly to beer fermentation. However, instead of fermenting hops and grains to produce alcohol, Seltzer is typically made from fermenting cane sugar. Some manufacturers may also use malted barley or malted rice in the fermented mix, but this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, Bud Light Seltzers use “Cold Fermented Cane Sugar” and also list “Malted Rice” in their Seltzer.
For fermentation, the Seltzer base of water and cane sugar is mixed with yeast to start a fermentation process. If you want to learn more about beer fermentation read my blog Is Beer Vegan – Introducing the Secret to Finding Out.
Once fermented Seltzer will have an ABV of around 4 to 6 % ABV.
Is Hard Seltzer – Vegan Fermentation Concerns
A lot of the time the underlying ingredients of a beverage can be vegan, but it is the fermentation process that can make it not vegan. For example, with beer, the issue is the filtration process. This is where beer manufacturers will use fining agents to remove unwanted clumps of molecules or yeast from the fermented mixture. The result is clear and unhazy beer. The problem is that most fining agents used are not vegan – such as Isinglass (dried fish bladders), Gelatin, Casein (Milk Proteins), Skimmed Milk, and Egg albumin.
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan – Does Hard Seltzer use Fining Agents?
So, what about Seltzer? Well, the same thing must happen. After fermentation, the Seltzer base must be filtered and clarified to produce a clear, colorless, and odorless substance. But do they use fining agents in the process?
The answer is it will depend on the manufacturer. The good news is that there are vegan-friendly fining agents available such as Silicic Acid or Active Carbon. There are also options for using microfiltration and nanofiltration (basically really, really, small sieves).
To make it as easy as possible for you I will go through the main Hard Seltzer manufacturers below and tell you if they are vegan or not.
Interested in Beer or Wine?
Are you also interested in Beer or Wine? Want to learn how these alcoholic drinks are made and whether they are vegan or not? Then check out my below blog pieces with detailed breakdowns on wine, beer, cider, champagne, and liquor (or if you want a one-stop read then read my blog Is Alcohol Vegan? How to Know the Truth:
- Is Beer Vegan – Introducing The Secret To Finding Out
- Why is Wine Not Vegan – How to Know the Truth
- Is Champagne Vegan? Revealing The Truth Behind the Bubbles?
- Is Liquor Vegan? How to Actually Pick Vegan Liquor
- Is Cider Vegan? How To Know the Pressing Truth
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan – Ingredient Breakdown
Let’s look at each of the main ingredients of Hard Seltzer and break down whether they are vegan or not.
Obviously vegan. It’s water, not sure how you could even make this not vegan.
This tends to be fermented cane sugar. As mentioned above, the alcohol produced from fermentation isn’t always vegan due to animal-derived fining agents being used in the clarification process.
Natural flavors can be derived from animals or from plants so technically can be not vegan. However, it is very unlikely that the natural flavors in a hard seltzer would be non-vegan. They are almost certainly natural fruit flavors and therefore vegan. The only non-vegan natural flavor that is always worth bearing in mind is honey.
Sugar is a controversial topic for vegans – especially vegans in the US. Many US sugar manufacturers still process sugar with bone char from animals. No bone char is left in the sugar, but it is used in the process. Bone char processed sugar does not tend to be an issue outside of the US.
Some US-based vegans choose not to consume any sugar that could have been processed with bone char whilst other vegans are fine with consuming sugar. As a consumer, you cannot know if the sugar in a product is processed with bone char or not if it is just listed as sugar. The only way to know is to only drink drinks with sugar listed as “beet sugar” or organic or raw as you then know it hasn’t been processed with bone char. Most hard seltzers contain sugar, although there are a few that are sugar-free (see below for more details).
Citric Acid is used as a preservative. It is vegan.
Usually, preservatives like potassium citrate and/or potassium sorbate are added for shelf-life purposes. These preservatives, along with most of the preservatives found in Hard Seltzer, are vegan.
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan – Ingredients Summary
Purely based on ingredients, Hard Seltzer looks promising as a vegan option (depending on individual brands). The two main potential non-vegan ingredients look to be alcohol (if it is clarified using animal-derived fining agents) and bone-char sugar in the US.
Also, if you type “Seltzer” into Barnivore’s database only one Non-Vegan Hard Seltzer variety comes up – Truly’s Iced Tea range, which contains honey.
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan? – Brand Breakdown
It is already looking like hard seltzer is a vegan-friendly drink (apart from some iced tea varieties) but let’s dig into the main hard seltzer brands a little further.
Is White Claw Hard Seltzer Vegan?
White Claw is by far the biggest hard seltzer brand in the world, so seems like a good place to start.
White Claw has stated to Barnivore that their seltzers are vegan (as of 30 Sept 2021). White Claw Hard Seltzer looks like it is vegan.
Interestingly they also have a Hard Seltzer Iced Tea range, but unlike Truly (see below) theirs does not contain honey. If you are a Hard Seltzer Iced Tea fan, then White Claw looks like a good option.
You can treat yourself to a White Claw variety pack from Amazon here.
Is Truly Hard Seltzer Vegan?
Truly is the second biggest hard seltzer brand – aimed at the millennial social media-loving crowd (isn’t everything…).
The Truly Hard Seltzer Iced Tea variety is not vegan due to the presence of honey. The other ranges – Classic, Lemonade, and Punch do not contain honey. Truly confirmed to Barnivore that no animal ingredients are used in the brewing or filtering and that their hard seltzers are vegan-friendly.
Truly’s Classic, Lemonade and Punch Hard Seltzer ranges look like they are vegan whilst their Iced Tea Hard Seltzer range is not vegan as it contains honey (as of 30 September 2021). You can treat yourself to a variety pack of Truly’s punch range from Amazon here.
Is Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Vegan?
Topo Chico Seltzer is Coca-Cola’s first foray into the alcoholic drinks industry. Coca-Cola bought Topo Chico in 2017 (it was at that time just really popular in Texas and Mexico) and they have rolled it out in other countries since. It is marketed on the front of the cans as “spiked sparkling water”. Want to read more about what Coca-Cola non-alcoholic drinks are vegan then check out the post I wrote on it – Is Coca-Cola Vegan? Secrets to Know About Coca-Cola Drinks.
This is also a good point to mention that I have personally previously received the following confirmation from Coca-Cola regarding their US drinks via email –
“The brands of The Coca-Cola Company in the United States do not contain ingredients derived from animals“ Coca-Cola email response to VeganBev
There is also a statement on Coca-Cola Great Britain’s website that states that the “vast majority” of their drinks are suitable for vegans and then lists the exceptions that are not vegan. Topo Chico Seltzer is not on the list of exceptions.
Based on the above Topo Chico Hard Seltzer looks vegan. You can try Topo Chico Strawberry Guava hard seltzer on instacart here.
Is Bud Light Hard Seltzer Vegan?
Budweiser is a beer brand that does not use vegan fining agents to produce their beers. You can read more about it in the blog post I wrote on the topic – Is Beer Vegan – Introducing the Secret To Finding Out. To this extent, it looks like the alcohol used is also likely to not be processed with animal-derived fining agents.
I cannot seem to find much further in terms of any statement from Budweiser regarding the vegan status of their hard seltzers. It is worth bearing in mind that it does contain sugar so there is always the possibility the sugar has been processed with bone char here in the US – this may be an issue for some strict vegans in the US.
Is High Noon Hard Seltzer Vegan?
High Noon hard seltzer is different from the above seltzers as the alcohol used is vodka. Vodka is almost always vegan unless the vodka itself is flavored (Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises To Know About in Vodka).
High Noon also does not add sugar – so there are no bone char issues. They instead use fruit juice to sweeten. Fruit juice is not always vegan (you can read more about it here – Is Orange Juice Vegan? Revealing Why you Need to Know). However, that is normally due to non-vegan ingredients being added to bottles of juice – pure juice is almost always vegan. The fruit juice used in High Noon hard seltzer is just juice and so will be vegan.
Based on the above High Noon Hard Seltzer looks vegan. High Noon hard seltzer variety pack is available from Instacart here.
Served Hard Seltzer – Definitely a Vegan Seltzer
As you can see it looks like most Hard Seltzers are vegan (bar the occasional honey iced tea variety and some that may contain bone char sugar). However, as you can see from the above, none of the big hard seltzer brands are claiming their seltzers are vegan. Either on their websites or on their cans.
Is there a proudly vegan Hard Seltzer out there? I did some digging and can happily say “yes, there is”. Enter “Served Hard Seltzer” – which lists “100% vegan” on their website. The alcohol they use is made from pure wonky beet (yes, “wonky”) from France. They also do not use animal-derived fining agents and they do not use any sugar – they sweeten with fruit. That means, no potential bone char issues and no fining agent issues.
You can read more about Served hard seltzers and how awesomely vegan they are here – Severed Hard Seltzer website. The only bad news is that they are a UK-based company and they only ship in the UK. Sorry.
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan – The Final Sip
Is Hard Seltzer Vegan – the main brands of Hard Seltzer look to be vegan friendly. This is despite a lot of them not openly advertising this fact. As for whether you will like Hard Seltzer or not is a completely different matter. If you have been reading this and wondering “ok, but what does it taste like?” then let me tell you. It tastes like flavored sparkling water. Despite being around 5% ABV in a can Seltzer tastes remarkably not like an alcoholic drink (in my opinion). It is light and refreshing. There isn’t really a kick to it like you get with liquor, cocktail, or even with wine or beer that lets you know you are drinking something alcoholic. It’s probably one of the reasons why it has become so popular.
… now you know.
Beverage makers may change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes. Always double-check ingredients before purchasing any beverages.
Please Drink Responsibly.
Like what you are reading?
Want to know if your favorite wine, beer, or champagne is vegan? About your favorite liquor – do you think Tequila, Gin, Rum, or Whiskey is vegan? Will you ever be able to look at them the same way again? Find out more and most important if your favorite alcoholic drinks are vegan in my other blog pieces below:
- Is Beer Vegan – Introducing the Secret To Finding Out
- Why is Wine Not Vegan – How To Know the Truth
- Is Alcohol Vegan? How to Know the Truth
- Is Champagne Vegan? Revealing the Truth Behind the Bubbles
- 10 Vegan Wines at Trader Joe’s You Need to Try
- Is Liquor Vegan? How to Actually Pick Vegan Liquor
- Is Cider Vegan? How to Know the Pressing Truth
- Is Vodka Vegan? Hidden Surprises to Know About in Vodka
- Vegan Baileys – The Truth About This Surprising Drink