Welcome to Fizz Biz, a summertime column where we’ll be sipping and appraising hard seltzers all season long. Know of any must-try products out there? Email us at email@example.com.
When I was a kid, I used to really like AriZona iced teas. They were always affordable for a tiny wallet (still only $0.99 in 2021!), plus, the Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey made me feel like I was drinking an adult beverage. Forget Lipton’s. This was green tea, which was practically a superfood to a young one. And the can was giant! Now that I’m a discerning adult, I have strayed far from AriZona’s light, because I don’t drink too much by way of soft drinks any more. But guess what? AriZona has entered the hard seltzer zone. My inner child and outer adult are high-fiving right now.
In keeping with AriZona’s internal capital letter naming scheme, the line of hard seltzers is called SunRise. In a blind taste test, you’d be hard-pressed to pick them out of a lineup, as they fit right into the fruity offerings that nearly every other brand offers. There’s nothing about them that screams “Pick me, pick me!” from a design aspect either, as the cans stick to vivid colors on a white background, like so many others do.
But as typical as they might seem, the appearance of the SunRise hard seltzer line comes as sort of a surprise to me. In a way, it sort of feels like the hard seltzer market is starting to resemble the fried chicken sandwich wars. Different brands keep coming out with hard seltzers, and I think the AriZona version caught me off guard a little, like when Chili’s came out with their chicken sandwich. The sandwich felt like a move the chain felt compelled to make, even though I didn’t think it was exactly quite needed.
I’m wondering if AriZona felt the need to pop in and say hello because all the other cool kids were doing it (or more likely that there’s money in the hard seltzer game to grab, still). Don’t get me wrong, hard seltzer is awesome, but does every brand need one now? Pepto Bismol, if you’re listening, please come out with a hard seltzer too, please, because that would be a head-turner.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s nothing unusual about the flavor spread, as, aside from Cherry Punch, it mainly defaults to the single fruit variety:
- Cherry Punch
- Mucho Mango
All four flavors have a moderate 4.6% ABV, which isn’t too party-party, and all ring in at 100 calories per 12-ounce can. The 19.2 oz cans, which are the same exact size as the canned AriZona tea line (I like to think that was a deliberate nod), come in at 160-170 calories, depending on the flavor. One nice feature is that the whole product line is also flavored with fruit juice, which might appeal to those of you who’d rather have a more-natural tasting product than, say, a deftly flavor-engineered orange creamsicle hard seltzer.
Mucho Mango was the best flavor of the bunch, by far. I don’t know what it is that makes mango such a good beverage flavor, but for some reason, it’s stellar in hard seltzer. Out of all four, the Mucho Mango had the most intense level of fruity tropical flavor, and it held up through the whole can. That’s the one I’d reach for out of the cooler.
The rest of the SunRise roster wasn’t bad, but the flavors were pretty wan overall. Lemon had a thin, vaguely citrus tone to it without nearly enough of a sunny vibe, and because of that, it tasted watery. Grapefruit was mild and delicate as well, but it hit the mood a little bit better than the Lemon (I like grapefruit-flavored drinks a lot, so maybe that’s just my personal preference). Cherry Punch, however, came in dead last for me. Though, like the others, it was flavored with real fruit juice, for whatever reason this one came off as the most artificial-tasting of the bunch, leaning towards medicinal.
For this style of juice-flavored seltzer, I think the ABV of 4.6% hits the right balance. The alcohol is there, but it’s not intrusive. It’s good both for someone who only wants one and someone who wants to crush more than a few. Who’s down for a shotgun?!
The price of SunRise seltzers, unfortunately, isn’t $0.99 a can like AriZona teas. A 12-pack would run me $16.99 at the nearest liquor store chain, if I were to run out and get one right now. Unfortunately, since there’s only one flavor in the bunch I’d reach for, the Mucho Mango, I’d skip the variety pack.
Fortunately, you can get the Mucho Mango in the 19.2 oz can by itself. If you’re just going to chill at a concert in a park or something and you don’t want to splurge, you can bring some of these along in a bag, and they’ll be perfect for a few hours of easygoing fun with friends. But if you can’t find one, don’t worry, you’re not missing out on anything new.