(Austonia)

Seven of Austin's own "White Claws," hometown hard seltzers.

Journalism can be a tough business, and sometimes you get an unappealing assignment that you just have to power through.

That's not this one. This time, the Austonia team assembled under perfect conditions—a 102-degree Austin afternoon, poolside, under shade—for a label-on tasting of seven authentic Austin hard seltzers.


Methodology

The tasters were the usual suspects from the top of Austonia's site, plus beverage industry veteran and guest taster, Austinite Federico Martinez. The age range was 21 to embarrassed-to-admit, evenly divided between women and men.

Prior to commencing the tasting, we cleared our palates with Topo Chico and sipped some White Claw Mango to create a reference flavor.

Results

You can't go wrong with any of these hometown heroes. They're all built to be consumed in multiples, with varying flavors and sweetness, but with a thirst-quenching flavor profile in common.

As these beverages are all Austin-based, we wanted every single one to get a trophy. And they did. But we are calling out our most and least favorites, in the interest of journalistic integrity.

From first to last place, here are our ratings:

Ranch Rider Spirits Co., Ranch Water

6% alcohol, 119 calories, 1.5g carbs, gluten free, tequila

Our winner! All five amateur tasters ranked it #1, and our professional taster ranked it #2, after Mighty Swell. This cocktail-in-a-can consists of reposado tequila, sparking water and lime juice.

Created by two University of Texas MBA students who started a food truck before figuring out the real money is in booze.

Tasting notes: "tequila aroma," "very natural flavor," "subtle," "like a light (not sweet) margarita," "solid drink", "like being buried in warm sand," "for a tequila lover on a hot day"

Mighty Swell Spiked Spritzer, Grapefruit

5% alcohol, 110 calories, 4g carbs, gluten free, alcohol from sugar

An expertly-branded big money favorite, from the founder of Sweet Leaf tea (sale price undisclosed) and Deep Eddy Vodka (est. sale price $150M - $300M), along with other industry veterans.

This is the only one of the seven that's packaged in the tall, slim can used by White Claw.

Tasting notes: "great aromatics," "real grapefruit flavor," "aftertaste!," "no after flavor," "not overly sweet," "sugary," "natural and fresh"

Canteen Spirits Vodka Soda, Watermelon

5% alcohol, 99 calories, 0g carbs, gluten free, vodka

Another ringer. This vodka soda is from founders of Deep Eddy Vodka, Treaty Oak Whiskey and Waterloo Sparkling Water. Seed investors include a mix of Texas and Tennessee music celebs, and professional investors include Dan Graham's (BuildASign, $280M sale to Vistaprint parent) Springdale Ventures.

Tasting notes: "refreshing," "not real flavor," "super fizzy," "Jolly Rancher flavor," "soft flavor," "smooth and light," "could knock some back on a hot day"

Blue Norther Hard Seltzer, Wild Blackberry

5% alcohol, 110 calories, 5g carbs, gluten free, alcohol from sugar

The product of a father-son team, both named ... you know where this is going ... Austin.

Tasting notes: "uncommon flavor," "real juice," "too sweet," "almost syrupy," "I can feel my future hangover"

Austin Eastciders Spiked Seltzer, Black Cherry

4.2% alcohol, 100 calories, 5g carbs, gluten free, hard apple cider

Punny name. From English transplant Ed Gibson, who came from "cider country" to East Austin. Visit him on Barton Springs Road, in the old Uncle Billy's.

Tasting notes: "tart, nice flavor," "mix with cough syrup," "good flavor," "sparkly," "smells like a popsicle"

Austin Seltzer, Hard Black Raspberry

4% alcohol, 85 calories, alcohol from organic cane sugar

​Little information is known about this new brand, but it should be noted that each pack comes with an assortment of flavors, so each taster tried a different flavor.

Tasting notes: "watery," "almost like water," "candy aftertaste," "ghost flavor," "light", "not fully formed," "I could drink it all day"

Shotgun Spiked Seltzer, Ranch Water

6.9% alcohol, 164 calories, 3g carbs, gluten free, alcohol from cane sugar and agave

Sorry, but there has to be a loser, and this was it. Five of six tasters rated it last.

From a wife and husband team working from their space in Cuernavaca. Their major investor is a Texas hero—the founder of Big Ass Fans, which sold for $500 million in 2017. Time to put a couple mil back into product development.

Tasting notes: "not fresh," "musty," "aftertaste," "rough," "chemical-ly," "sour"

(Laura Figi)

At the tail end of a tough year for retailers, Black Friday deals appeared to draw fewer shoppers into big box stores around Austin.

Keep Reading Show less
(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 1 1/2 cup toasted pecans
Directions: Toast pecans in a 350°F oven until they become aromatic (about 5 minutes). Let pecans cool, drop them into a resealable jar, and fill with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Store in a cool, dark place for 1 month, if you can wait that long.
(Nan Palmero/CC)

Thanksgiving is over and the most wonderful time of year has officially begun. Christmas light shows have been a Texas tradition for years—so beloved that not even a pandemic could stop them from shining this year.

Keep Reading Show less
(Texas Longhorns/Instagram)
Game Preview: Longhorns face off against #13 Cyclones

The Texas Longhorns take the field for the first time in two weeks after postponements and bye weeks, making them one of the most well rested teams in the conference.

Keep Reading Show less
(MangoNic/Shutterstock)

Before the pandemic started, Adult Care of Austin on Menchaca Road didn't offer telemedicine appointments.

Now, the private practice conducts almost all of its visits virtually, either over the phone or on HIPAA-compliant video platforms.

Dr. Steven Dobberfuhl, an internal medicine physician, said telemedicine saved his practice—and has been a boon to his patients, around 75% of whom are 65 years or older and at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

"I didn't believe it would work as well as it has," he said.

Keep Reading Show less

Austin will see "big weather changes" this weekend, with likely thunderstorms Friday morning and early Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Keep Reading Show less
(Pexels)

From pandemic-inspired poetry to a graphic novel based on a Mayan legend, this holiday season offers titles for every taste. Below is a list of books from local authors to add to your Black Friday shopping cart or wintertime to-read list.

Keep Reading Show less