15 Popular Hard Seltzer Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Having dinner outdoors with friends and family can be a blast. You can pack up a perfect picnic and head off to the beach, park, or even the backyard. Once the menu is set and all your dishes are packed, the only thing left is the drinks. While a thermos of simple lemonade or punch could work, a six-pack is so much easier.

These days you can find six-packs of everything from beer to wine. Even canned cocktails seem to come in four, six, or 12-packs. But hard seltzers are the way to go if beer isn't your thing or feel that wine is better sipped out of a glass. There used to only be a few brands available, but today every major liquor company seems to have one. Some have your standard citrus while others focus on more tropical flavors. Some are specifically for the pool, then others are better suited to a tailgate. There are even a couple of brands hoping to tap into that nostalgic vibe.

Are you not sure which can is for you? As always, we're here to help. We sampled some different brands and have some definite opinions about which ones you should pick up and which should stay on the store shelves.

15. Bud Light Seltzer

Bud Light has never been our favorite beer, and it has since controversially lost its spot as America's favorite beer for reasons unrelated to the actual taste of it, but since the company promises these seltzer cans are "100% hard seltzer, 0% beer," we were intrigued. We figured with flavors like mango, black cherry, and cranberry apple, there would be a fruity carbonation that would get us on board with Bud and its non-beer beverages we might be more interested in. 

We were sadly wrong and disappointed. These cans range from bitter to subtly sweet with each fruit tasting more like what the company thinks cherry or apple should taste like rather than what it actually does. Ranging in price from $17 to $27 depending on how many cans you buy, these seltzers are definitely not worth the money and land in last place in our ranking.

14. Calidad Agua Fresca

We love agua frescas. A simple combination of fruit juices, sugar, and water, it's the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. So, when we discovered that Calidad turned that classic street market drink into a hard seltzer, we couldn't wait to dive in. And with flavors like hibiscus watermelon and prickly pear pomegranate, we were sure these would be some of the more interesting options out there.

When we popped those cans open we were greeted with the pleasing scents of hibiscus, pomegranate, and pineapple. But then we tasted them and unfortunately, the taste didn't match those tantalizing smells. Instead, we got a strange, nutty flavor that just didn't fit. While there were definite hints of citrus, they weren't strong enough to overcome that salty, nuttiness. Combined with a bitter finish and a relatively flat seltzer, these agua frescas leave much to be desired.

13. White Claw Surge

The original hard seltzer, White Claw has over 30 flavors to choose from. Since we already ranked every flavor from worst to best, we knew it had to be included on this list. So, we chose White Claw Surge, and if you're a White Claw fan, you'll probably enjoy Surge. Unfortunately, we weren't fans of the original and we like Surge even less. While these cans stand apart thanks to their loud metallic blue color, their flavors are still an artificial mess. Yes, each can tastes like blackberry, orange, or lime. But not like any real version of those fruits we've ever tasted. Instead, we get a chemical sweetness that reminds us of those scratch-and-sniff stickers we grew up with.

With all the seltzers on the markets these days, we don't understand why White Claw is still such a big draw. It certainly isn't the taste. But if you're looking to get a quick buzz no matter what the seltzer tastes like, this could be the can for you. At the highest ABV on this list, each can of Surge comes in at a whopping 8%. That may not seem like a lot, but when the can is only 12 ounces, you're guaranteed to feel this seltzer pretty quickly.

12. Truly

It's fitting that Truly comes right after White Claw because they appeared on the market only a few short months later. And just like White Claw, it's not a great choice. If you want to know which Truly flavor to try first, we ranked 12 flavors from worst to best earlier this year to help guide you. But that's just within the Truly family. If you're curious about which brand of hard seltzer to grab, we'd advise you to keep reading, as there are much better options out there.

Here's what we can say about the brand: If you're looking for a hard seltzer that will go down as easily as a can of club soda, these are probably the cans for you. While the viscosity is enjoyable, our issue with Truly is the flavors. None of them stand out. We sampled several different cans and not one left a lasting impression.

11. Spindrift Spiked

We were very excited to try Spindrift Spiked because we're such big fans of its sparkling water. Unfortunately, after sipping a few different flavors, we can honestly say that we'll stick with the original seltzer water. Each can may be spiked with 4% alcohol by volume, but the flavors are not worth it.

The problem with these cans is that where the previous cans are underwhelming, these are overwhelming. Maybe the creators are trying to hide the alcohol in each can. Maybe they're trying to compete with the numerous other hard seltzers out there. But whatever the reason, Spindrift's years of trial and error in perfecting a hard seltzer have not paid off. The citrus flavors taste like several ounces of real lemon or lime juice were squeezed into each can creating a very sour seltzer, and the other flavors don't fare much better. If we want an alcoholic Spindrift, we'll just add one of its original flavored seltzer waters to a cocktail and be done with it.

10. The Shell House

The Shell House is Trader Joe's house brand hard seltzer. Available in two different variety packs, it's adequate. While it definitely goes down easy, it's hard to differentiate any of the flavors. The scents from each can may match the fruits emblazoned on them, but that's where the similarity ends. Instead of a burst of peach or raspberry, we get a slightly tart, subtly sweet seltzer that has a delightful bubble. We especially appreciate that even with 5% alcohol in each can, we couldn't taste the alcohol at all.

But the best thing about this can is the price. Unlike other seltzers on this list, these 12-packs are under $10. Because it's from Trader Joe's, you have two options: You can either buy one of the two varieties for $9.99 or if you only want one or two cans, Trader Joe's has a great sales pitch where anyone can simply crack open a box and pick their favorites to buy separately. If you go that route, each can only costs about a dollar. With a price tag like that, we'd definitely grab The Shell House for our party, and you should, too.

9. High Noon

We've been imbibing High Noon ever since it was released in 2019. An easy sipper, this is the perfect can to take to the beach or a park if you're looking to hydrate and get a quick buzz. Unlike some of the other seltzers on this list, the cans with the bright yellow moon are made with vodka or tequila and real fruit juices. Available in a variety of flavors including the unusual pear and kiwi, we'd recommend sticking with a single-flavored four-pack as opposed to the variety pack.

Even though High Noon nails the citrus flavors, it falls short when it comes to the tropical guava and kiwi. We couldn't get enough of the lime, lemon, and grapefruit but the guava and kiwi were so artificial-tasting, we could barely stomach a swallow, let alone two. That fake fruitiness coupled with an unpleasant aftertaste that lingers longer than we'd like, means we'll be skipping the cutely titled pool and tropical packs. But if you stick with the three citrus options, you'll be very happy.

8. Topo Chico

Topo Chico has long been the seltzer water people have turned to for the super popular Ranch Water. Since this cocktail is such a hit, it's no surprise Topo Chico came out with its own line of hard seltzers in a variety of different flavors. After all, Ranch Water is pretty much the original hard seltzer since it's a simple mixture of tequila, lime juice, and soda water.

Topo Chico's line of seltzers is a great refresher on a warm afternoon. The water has a nice carbonation that floats over the tongue. The hints of salinity and citrus remind us of the classic cocktail that put Topo Chico on the map. Unfortunately, those are the best things we can say about this bevy.

Sold in packs of 12, these seltzers come in four different flavors from Exotic Pineapple to Tropical Mango, and honestly, it's hard to differentiate between them. While the Tangy Lemon Lime has a delightful citrusy zing, the mango and pineapple taste pretty similar. We wish the other fruit flavors were sweeter and more distinct. If they were, this seltzer would be higher on our list. It's a fine way to wet your whistle, it's just not our top choice.

7. Kona Spiked Island Seltzer

We've always enjoyed Kona Brewing Company's beers. They're the perfect option when you're looking for something that has plenty of hops but isn't super heavy. So, when we heard the company added a variety of hard seltzers to its docket, we couldn't wait to try them. Available in four tropical flavors, the Island Seltzers transport you to the beaches of Hawaii with every sip. Unlike other seltzers that promote tropical flavors but end up tasting artificial, Kona stands out by actually following through with its unique flavor combos. Each can really does taste like starfruit, passionfruit, or guava, rather than a chemical version of them.

Even though we would cart any of these cans to a party or potluck, our favorite was definitely the tropical punch. Filling us with memories of that bright red punch from our childhood, Kona's version isn't nearly as sweet, but just as tantalizing thanks to its delightful subtlety. It's the notes of hibiscus though, that keep us coming back for more. When combined with dashes of tangerine and orange, you get a spiked tropical punch that satisfies from the first sip to the last.

6. Vizzy

The Molson Coors Beverage Company jumped on the hard seltzer bandwagon in 2020 when it added Vizzy to liquor store shelves. Its unusual combination of flavors makes Vizzy stand out from other hard seltzers. You don't just get orange, watermelon, or black cherry. Instead, you get flavors like blueberry/pomegranate, peach/orange, or watermelon/lemonade just to name a few. While some of the fruity combinations are unusual, there's nothing off-putting in any of them. Somehow they all work together because Molson Coors clearly put the time and effort into tasting these combinations before bottling them up.

While any of these cans could be imbibed as part of a festive happy hour or barbecue, the mimosa series also makes it okay to enjoy them with brunch. Each of the four mimosa flavors really does taste like the classic orange juice cocktail. Upon the first sip, you're hit with that alluring tang of orange, but the strawberry, peach, or pomegranate juices keep your lips glued to the can.

Even Vizzy's newest flavor, which is a nostalgic nod to those 50/50 playground popsicles, has plenty of acidity, but it's the subtle vanilla finish that makes this can a standout. Although we prefer the other combinations to Vizzy's newest, the Orange Cream Pop is a fun sipper when you're feeling sentimental.

5. Twisted Tea

These cans may not be carbonated, but if you're a fan of iced tea, you're going to love Twisted Tea. Available as a single 24-ouncer or in a case of 12 smaller cans, these teas taste like a cup that's just been brewed and poured over ice, which is how we'd recommend drinking them. Don't get us wrong, you can sip it straight out of the can, but we tried it both ways and preferred it in a glass on the rocks.

With 11 flavors in its repertoire, there's a Twisted Tea for everyone. Do you like your tea full of those earthy, herbal notes often associated with black tea? It's here. Prefer pineapple or blueberry? Twisted has those, too. But after tasting a few of the fruit-flavored twists, we'd recommend those over the Original. The Half-&-Half tastes just like the Arnold Palmers we grew up with, while each fruit-flavored tea tastes like that classic black tea with hints of peach, raspberry, or mango.

4. Simply Spiked

We've all seen the Simply juices in the refrigerated sections of our favorite grocery stores. Pitching themselves as juice and nothing else, these popular jugs have been around for years. So, the next logical step was to put a boozy twist on them. Available in eight different flavors, Simply Spiked does something a little different: It starts with lemonade or peach juice and then put a fruity twist on it. Each can of lemonade and peach has four fruit-forward spins from the classic strawberry or blueberry lemonade to the unusual kiwi peach. But each one tastes as if it was just juiced from the freshly-picked fruit.

We love a good glass of lemonade, especially when it's sparkling. That's why our favorite thing about these bright yellow cans is the light carbonation inside. Each can provide a nice tickle over the tongue, making this one of the more enjoyable seltzer-drinking experiences. And if lemonade is your drink of choice, you'll especially appreciate that four out of Simply's eight flavors come in a 24-ounce can.

3. Ashland

A lot of the hard seltzer companies have come from some of the biggest names in the liquor industry. There's Vizzy from Molson Coors, Bud Light, Kona, and Corona just to name a few. But Ashland stands apart because it was created by a group of filmmakers, athletes, and artists. People interested in joining together to create a great-tasting product made from "simple ingredients."

Available in four different variety packs, the flavors range from classics like strawberry lemonade and watermelon to the more unusual ginger peach and rainbow sherbet. These unusual profiles make this seltzer perfect for a party because there's something for everyone. Lovely scents of citrus and stone fruits greeted us as soon as we cracked open the cans, and those smells transferred into delicious flavor once the liquid hit our palate.

But the thing that really struck us was how much these seltzers reminded us of sours: beers that have a fruity sourness rather than that typical hoppiness you expect from a classic lager or ale. So if you're not a beer fan, you should give these seltzers a sip. A foamy mouth-feel means they go down extra easy and have a pleasant, citrusy finish, which we couldn't get enough of. Since each case comes with 12-ounce cans that have a basic 5% ABV, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment.

2. Brewery X

Based out of Southern California, Brewery X started as a beer company and then expanded into hard seltzers, and from everything we tasted, we're happy it did. Similar to the other cans on this list, these 12-ounce cans also come in at 5% alcohol by volume. But unlike some of the other brands, the flavors are legit.

The unusual Huckleberry has a wonderful berry scent and flavor while the cherry lime has a one-two-punch of sweet cherries and tart limes. The aftertaste on both of these, however, is somewhat funky and begins to bother you as you drink down the can. The Succulent Sipper on the other hand is something we could drink for days.

With a can that looks almost identical to the classic Cactus Cooler soda, it's clear that Brewery X is going for the nostalgic factor with this seltzer. It not only looks the same, but it also tastes the same: sweet with the perfect amount of tart, citrus bite. But unlike other citrus seltzers listed here, there isn't a hint of alcohol or bitter finish. We couldn't get over how much it tasted like that classic soda we grew up with, which means we'll be imbibing this can from lunch until way past dinner.

1. Corona Refresca Hard Tropical Punch

As the most alluring cans on this list, Corona's hard tropical punches remind us of some of our favorite ciders. The newest members of the Corona docket, these brightly colored refrescas are sweet without being overly so and each can taste exactly like the fruit it's labeled with. From the moment we cracked those guys open, there was no mistaking which flavor we had in our hands, as each smells like the fruit emblazoned on the can. Sipping these seltzers only made us fall further. It didn't matter if it was the tart bite of passionfruit or the enticing taste of sweet guava, we were fans. When combined with a light effervescence and a stunning hue, this is definitely a seltzer we'll happily sip all year long.

You should be careful with these cans, though. Since there's not a single hint of alcohol, they go down quite easily, causing you to lose track of the number you've enjoyed. But since each can boasts a low 4.5% alcohol by volume, you could probably imbibe two or three before feeling any effects.