You could say that San Diego, California is hoppin’ when it comes to its beer scene.
According to the City of San Diego Economic Development Department, it ranks among the top 5 cities nation-wide with the most operating beer breweries, and craft breweries make up a sizeable portion of the overall industry.
Belching Beaver, launched in 2012, is a craft brewery headquartered in San Diego producing a variety of beers and hard seltzer. Its hard seltzer line-up includes three flavors: Passion Fruit & Guava, Pineapple & Mango, and Raspberry & Blackberry.
The brewery uses real fruit purees to flavor its hard seltzer, said Belching Beaver’s Brewmaster, Troy Smith.
From the start, it was important for the brewery to adhere to its “craft” roots and deliver a product that differentiated itself from the other hard seltzers on the market that were clear in color and used flavorings rather than real fruit.
“We are a craft brewery, not ‘big beer,’ and we wanted to take a craft approach to our hard seltzer that had all the characteristics, such as low calorie, low carb, and around 5 percent ABV, but really stood apart from the rest. That was our main goal,” said Smith.
“It took us a little longer to get to market with our hard seltzer, because it’s a bit more finicky working with real fruit than it is working with a tincture or extract that mimics a flavor,” he added.
However, not every fruit is a good candidate for hard seltzer, partly because when real fruit is fermented and the sugar is stripped out the result can be very tart. Citrus fruits are particularly difficult to work with for this reason, Smith said.
Hard seltzer made with real fruit puree instead of fruit flavoring results in a hazy colored beverage as opposed to clear, and a slightly different mouthfeel.
Some consumers also detect a bit more acidity in products made with real fruit puree versus flavoring, which is not surprising said Smith, “because real fruit does have a higher acidity profile, like raspberries and passion fruit, for example.”
Belching Beaver recently expanded its hard seltzer line-up with a product that contains both real fruit puree and extracts. The newest hard seltzer is called the Blender Series.
Smith says the combination of real fruit and extracts offered more versatility and “allowed us to obtain some of those flavors that were lost during fermentation.”