By Mason Braasch | Photo courtesy of The Great Dane (left) and Untitled Art Brewery (right)
Summer is here, and so are the perfect summer drinks! Hard seltzers have become a staple warm-weather libation, with popular brands like White Claw and Truly creating a variety of fruity flavors. But national brands certainly aren’t the only ones claiming space in the hard seltzer market. Several Madison craft breweries have whipped up their own versions of these refreshing, bubbly drinks for you to enjoy while floating on a lake, taking advantage of outdoor recreation or simply hanging out this summer.
Stray Forth Craft Hard Seltzer by Ale Asylum
A spinoff company of Madison’s Ale Asylum, Stray Forth has created a seltzer that is unique from any other on the market in more ways than one. The team that created Stray Forth Craft Hard Seltzer experimented for over a year to create flavors that are clean and crisp, rather than sweet.
The 16-ounce cans are wrapped in eye-catching art, and the flavors — like Cherry Apple Cider Salvation and Blackberry Cucumber Enchant-Mint — are even more distinctive. As Ale Asylum co-owner Hathaway Terry-Pogue says, “The labels are cool, and the drink is good!” Stray Forth can be found in grocery stores, liquor stores and restaurants around Madison — such as Willy Street Co-op, Badger Liquor and Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry. strayforth.com
Florida Hard Seltzers by Untitled Art Brewery
Made in Waunakee, Florida Hard Seltzers offer a variety of tropical flavors that are true to their name. The moniker comes from a style of beer called a Florida Berliner Weisse, for which brewers would use sweet syrups and tropical fruits to make a singular-tasting beer.
Today, Untitled Art is using the term to describe their flavors, like Prickly Pear Guava and Blood Orange Pomegranate. Co-founder Levi Funk explains that as the seltzer market continues to expand, Untitled Art saw it as their responsibility as craft brewers to create a craft product; and what they have created is an inventive beverage, free of extracts and full of flavor. If you’re looking to try these unique seltzers, you can find them at Total Wine. totalwine.com
Dog Daze Hard Seltzer by The Great Dane Pub & Brewing
The Great Dane has been creating great Wisconsin beer since 2002, and in 2019, they added a new and different offering to their list. Dog Daze Hard Seltzer was created with the philosophy that the flavor profile should be more neutral and crisp tasting than other seltzers, which they achieved with their citrus flavor. Brewmaster Rob Lobreglio compares the drink to a refreshing vodka soda with a slice of lime. “It was just different than what most other people were doing out there,” he says. “[We] were seeing a lot of crazy combinations and stronger-flavored ones.”
The Great Dane has since expanded their list to include cherry, which has been a favorite among customers. The cherry seltzer is available in six-packs for carryout at all Great Dane locations. greatdanepub.com
Isthmus Beverage Werks Hard Seltzer by Capital Brewery
While Capital Brewery is well-known for great beers like their Supper Club lager and Wisconsin Amber, they jumped at the chance to make something more refreshing and light for warmer weather. After watching hard seltzers grow in popularity, Capital Brewery created a separate label and product line — Isthmus Beverage Werks — to craft a line of fruity hard seltzers. Isthmus Beverage Werks has been producing hard seltzers for two years now and has created tangy flavors, including Peach Fizz, Lemon Lime and Sea Breeze.
President of Capital Brewery, Scott Weiner, says that these all-natural, refreshing summer drinks are less overwhelming than their traditional brews, and are perfect for bikers and Bier Garten-goers at their Middleton brewery. Isthmus Beverage Werks’ Lemon Lime seltzer will be available on tap at Capital Brewery this summer, and their most popular flavor, Sea Breeze, will be available again soon! capitalbrewery.com
Karben4 Hard Seltzer
In 2018, craft brewer Karben4 saw the potential of hard seltzers and wanted to try their hand at creating their own version of what hard seltzers should be. Free of lingering aftertastes, strict calorie counts and bitterness, Karben4’s Hard Seltzer hit the market in 2020. Available at the K4 Taproom on Madison’s east side, Karben4 offers a spread of common, popular flavors, as well as some unique ones.
Whether you’re sipping on a black cherry, huckleberry or bonzai berry, managing member Zak Koga says that sipping on your Karben4 hard seltzer is something to feel good about: “When you drink any K4 product, you can also be assured that your dollars will support your community. We are involved in more charitable work than we can manage.” karben4.com