A huge blow is coming to hard seltzer drinkers in Utah. The state, which already has famously tough laws regarding booze, is now prohibiting the sale of beverages with even the smallest amount of ethyl alcohol in grocery stores, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Out of the 80 hard seltzers and kombuchas approved for sale in Utah (yes, your booch is in trouble, too!), 39 will have to be pulled from grocery and convenience store shelves. While it’s likely that those varieties will be moved over to liquor stores, where it will still be legal to sell them, there will still be quite an impact on the supply chain structure and viability of certain brands because of it.
What is ethyl alcohol?
Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol or grain alcohol, is created in the fermentation process of beer, wine, and other spirits, but is also regulated by the FDA as a food ingredient in pizza crust and certain preservatives. Those ethyl alcohol items, however, will not be affected by the omnibus alcohol bill threatening hard seltzers.
So what do the 41 safe seltzers and kombuchas have as part of their formula if not ethyl alcohol? Many brands are switching over to the additive propylene glycol, which that is part of the same chemical group as alcohol but has been deemed by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.
Which hard seltzers are at risk?
Things get a little tricky because many brands use both compounds in their seltzers—for example, Bon & Viv’s Black Cherry Rosemary flavor (which took the top spot in a 2019 hard seltzer ranking) would be pulled for containing ethyl alcohol while Bon & Viv’s Raspberry Dragonfruit is A-OK to keep selling.
For the most part, the affected hard seltzers may not be sorely missed—I don’t think we necessarily need Utah grocery stores fully stocked with all flavors of Bud Light and Coors Seltzer. In fact, if this is the start of the great hard seltzer culling across the country, we might be better off for it come seltzer season this summer.
Which hard seltzers would you be happiest to see go? And which ones are you holding onto for dear life? Let us know.