Is Truly a Malt Beverage? Let’s Check Out the Facts

Hard seltzer seems all the range at the moment, even I have been known to dump my beloved IPA on a hot summer’s day for a cool, refreshing and easy to drink hard seltzer. Some of my favorite craft beer producers are now brewing hard seltzers too, in addition to their standard beers.

In recent years, hard seltzers have taken the beverage industry by storm. The popularity of hard seltzers has surged among consumers, and it’s not hard to see why. These carbonated, low-calorie, and low-carbohydrate alcoholic beverages are refreshing, easy to drink, and perfect for summertime sipping.

In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons behind the popularity of hard seltzers as an alternative to beer and find out what makes them so appealing to consumers.

Let’s also take a more detailed look at Truly, one of the most popular hard seltzer brands in the US today, and check out what types of alcohol are in it.

Is Truly a malt beverage like that old favorite Smirnoff Ice? Or does it contain a spirit base to bump up the alcohol? Basically, is Truly a type of beer or a mixed drink with spirits?

What Kind of Alcohol Is in Truly Hard Seltzers?

Truly wild berry hard seltzer
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The alcohol in Truly Hard Seltzer is made using cane sugar. This is what differentiates it from other drinks such as wine, which uses the sugars found in the grapes, or beer, which uses the sugars made in the malt and grains mixture to produce alcohol.

Although Truly is brewed using similar methods to beer, swapping out the malt for cane sugar gives it a far more neutral-flavour base, similar to vodka or other neutral spirits.

But Truly isn’t a spirit, it has not been distilled like a spirit for a higher strength but brewed as alcohol which is then watered down with other ingredients such as fruit flavourings and water.

In 2022, Truly introduced the Truly Vodka Seltzer, which is made with six times distilled vodka, real fruit juice and premium flavors. Unlike the Hard Seltzer, Truly Vodka Seltzer is classed as a premixed spirit drink or RTD spirit like a flavored vodka.

Is Truly a Malt Beverage?

two white and black labeled Truly cans with grapefruit
Photo by Camden & Hailey George on Unsplash

No. Although the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) legally classify a Hard seltzer as a flavored malt beverage, Truly Hard Seltzer doesn’t contain any malt, so is technically not a malt beverage. All the alcohol in Truly Hard Seltzer comes from the cane sugar base.

Being a brewed drink it still fits into the beer category for taxation purposes rather than the liquor tax rating.

When brewing beer, however, grains are use to make a malt which the yeast then feeds off to break down into sugars which can be converted into alcohol. Instead of using that traditional malt mixture, Truly Hard Seltzers use cane sugar, which provides the sugar for the yeast to break down into alcohol.

The taste of alcohol produced from raw cane sugar is very different to that of alcohol using more traditional malted grains like wheat or barley. The flavor produced by fermenting sugar cane is a much cleaner taste with a less strong flavor and makes it the perfect alcohol base to add fruit flavors to.

Is Truly Vodka or Malt?

Neither. Although they have now released Truly Vodka Seltzers, the original Truly Hard Seltzer doesn’t use vodka or malt for its alcohol. Instead it all comes from raw cane sugar. Vodka is made from potatoes or grains while the alcohol in Truly Hard Seltzers comes from cane sugar.

Vodka is typically 40% ABV, whereas a Truly Hard Seltzer is only 5% alcohol by volume, about the same as most typical beers such as Budweiser or Coors.

Truly Hard Spritzer is available in over 30 flavors, with two flavors of Truly Extra Hard Seltzer having a higher percentage of alcohol at 8% ABV. This alcohol still comes from cane sugar though and not malt or vodka. Natural flavors, cane sugar and juice concentrate are also listed as ingredients.

Truly also introduced four varieties of Truly Vodka Seltzer in 2022 which still have an ABV of 5% but use vodka as the alcohol base instead of fermented sugar.

There’s also three varieties of Truly Flavored Vodka available which have an ABV of 30% and are classed as vodka not a seltzer.

Is Truly Alcoholic?

Yes, Truly Hard Seltzers are classed as an alcoholic beverage. With its fruity taste and the packaging of the hard seltzer, some people have the misconception there is no alcohol in Truly.

The fact is all hard seltzers are alcoholic. Different brands, though, have different levels of alcohol.

The alcohol content of the standard Truly Hard Seltzer is 5% ABV. This means in every 100 ml of Truly, there is 5 ml of alcohol. However, a can of Truly contains fewer calories than most other alcoholic beverages. Nutritional information on the can boasts only 100 calories and 1 gram of sugar. In comparison a 12 oz can or bottle of Budweiser has 137 calories.

Is Truly Gluten Free?

Yes! All Truly products are labelled as gluten free on their official website and all the ingredients and nutritional facts can also be found there.

“Truly Hard Seltzer is pure and clean. It contains no gluten, liquor or spirits. The alcohol (ABV 5%) comes from fermenting all natural cane sugar. Each of our styles has hints of fruit for a delicious flavor and clean finish. Clean and simple” to quote the website.

The ingredients on the can list filtered water, alcohol from cane sugar, natural flavors, cane sugar, citric acid and carbon dioxide.

Who Makes Truly Hard Seltzers?

Although Truly Hard Seltzers are credited to the Hard Seltzer Beverage Company, LLC on their labels and the website, Truly Hard Seltzers are the Boston Beer Company’s first foray into the world of hard seltzers. They are available in all 50 of the mainland states as an alternative to beer.

In addition, Boston Beer have released a cocktail line under their Dogfish head brand which use two full proof shots in every can for a ready-to-drink spirits beverage. These are not classed as Hard seltzers, which are more of a fizzy sugar water with fruit juices, but as cocktails in a tin.

Truly’s main competitor and the largest selling Hard Seltzer on the market at time of writing with over 50% of the market, White Claw Hard Seltzer, is owned and produced by Marc Anthony Brands.

The fourth largest brewing company in the US, Marc Anthony brands were also responsible for the highly successful Mikes Hard Lemonade.

Is White Claw a Malt Beverage?

White Claw Ruby Grapefruit Hard Seltzer
Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Yes, Truly’s main competitor in the Hard Seltzer market is a malt beverage with flavor. Its prepared with seltzer water made from malted grains, gluten free alcohol, and a bit of fruit flavor.

Some may argue that the use of malted grains, which are the key component of beer, makes this a flavored beer, although the White Claw website specifies it doesn’t contain hops so its not officially a beer. All the grains used in White Claw are also 100% gluten free unlike a beer which may contain traces of gluten.

White Claw Hard Seltzer

Is Hard Seltzer a Malt Beverage?

Officially Hard Seltzers are categorised as a malt beverage or FMB (flavored malt beverage) by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau (TTB), even though most hard seltzers will tend to use sugar as the main fermentable source of alcohol.

Producers of hard seltzers will often use cane sugar or dextrose, which is mixed with warm water to create a seltzer water, or a sugar wash. Honey can also be used. This sugary base is then pitched with yeast to begin a fermentation process similar to beer.

While the grain or malts in brewing beer will normally provide ample nutrients to feed the yeast during fermentation, sugar alone provides little sustenance for the yeast. Nutrients are often added to the sugar base, which can include malts to keep the yeast happy and creating alcohol.

Truly is one of the largest brands of hard seltzers which doesn’t use malts and therefore isn’t actually a malt beverage despite the TTB classification.

Why Are Hard Seltzers So Popular?

First and foremost, hard seltzers are a healthier alternative to traditional alcoholic beverage such as regular mass-produced beer. With the growing trend of health and wellness, many consumers are looking for lower-calorie and lower-carbohydrate options when it comes to their alcoholic drinks.

Hard seltzers fit the bill perfectly, with most brands containing only 100 calories per serving and minimal carbs. Additionally, hard seltzers often use gluten-free grains and are vegan, making them a refreshing drink for people with dietary restrictions.

Another reason for the popularity of hard seltzers is their versatility. Unlike beer or wine, which can be heavy and filling, hard seltzers are light and refreshing, making them perfect for any occasion.

Whether you’re lounging by the pool, grilling with friends, or enjoying a night out, hard seltzers are an easy and refreshing choice – an excellent party drink!

Furthermore, hard seltzers are available in a wide variety of flavors, which makes them appealing to a broad range of consumers. Brands like White Claw, Truly, and Bud Light Seltzer offer flavors like black cherry, mango, and strawberry, giving consumers a range of options to choose from.

The variety of flavors also makes it easy for consumers to find a flavor that they enjoy and stick with it.

Bud Light Seltzer Mango
Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

Finally, the convenience of hard seltzers cannot be overlooked. Hard seltzers come in cans, making them easy to transport and store. They are also pre-mixed, eliminating the need for additional ingredients or mixers.

Additionally, hard seltzers have a lower alcohol content than traditional cocktails, making them an excellent choice for people who want to enjoy a drink without getting too tipsy.

In conclusion, the popularity of hard seltzers is due to a combination of factors. They are a healthier alternative to traditional alcoholic beverages, versatile, available in a variety of flavors, and convenient. As more consumers become health-conscious and seek out lighter, lower-calorie beverages, the popularity of hard seltzers is likely to continue to grow.

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