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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s funny how your palate can continue to be surprised, after a lifetime of being introduced to new flavors and textures. I drank my first can of Press after having spent the previous couple of weeks working my way through a 12-pack of Arctic Chill, a new hard seltzer offering from Polar that tastes nearly identical to its non-alcoholic counterpart: muted, sharply bubbly, with about as much flavor as if you squeezed half a lemon into it, nothing more. How, then, is my palate supposed to understand that Press somehow exists in the same beverage category? It’s a whole different ball game. The word “Premium” is right on the front for a reason.
I couldn’t figure out why the sweetness in this can (a slim can, of course) tasted so real, until—ah, yes, there it is: “5g sugar.” It’s not proudly emblazoned on the front of the can like other drinks’ big fat “zeros” typically are (zero carbs, zero sugar, zero whatever else), but I appreciate that those 5 grams of sugar are there to work with. Within them, you can get pretty creative, and Press does. This seltzer is for people who aren’t afraid of a little sugary sweetness that actually tastes sweet, as opposed to a weird saccharine substitute.
Press is, according to its website, the only top seltzer brand owned by a woman—founder Amy Walberg—and that’s particularly impressive given how male-dominated the beverage industry is as a whole, both alcoholic and non-. On the About Us page of its website, Press outlines Walberg’s initial development process back in 2015:
“She had three no-compromise goals. First, the seltzer had to be delicious. Second, the flavor profiles had to be sophisticated. Finally, for fans committed to responsible sipping, it had to be low ABV.”
Notice how none of those stated goals involve weird language about being “guilt-free” or “innocent,” nor does it cynically misappropriate terms like “body positivity” to pander to a diet-driven audience. It’s about flavor first and foremost, and deriving maximum enjoyment out of something. It is, in short, what seltzer ought to want to be.
Not only that, but as I was writing this, I learned that Press has swept the Best Taste Vote at Seltzerland, the national traveling seltzer festival, earning it the designation of #1 Best Hard Seltzer in all of Seltzerland’s 10 events to date. I’m telling you, it’s those 5 grams of sugar! When you let sweetness into your heart, good things happen.
Check out this lovely lineup:
- Pineapple Basil
- Lingonberry Elderflower
- Blackberry Hibiscus
- Pomegranate Ginger
- Lime Lemongrass
- Grapefruit Cardamom
- Pear Chamomile
- Apple Cinnamon
Like Flying Embers, Press has developed an overall signature flavor concept, rather than tossing a grapefruit and a black cherry option onto store shelves and calling it a day. Each can weds fruit and botanicals, and in the process, elevates both.
Each flavor, in fact, is suited to different type of drinking occasion altogether. I like to start in the early afternoon with the mellow Pear Chamomile, then move through each flavor, transitioning to the strongest ones. Apple cinnamon is so intensely flavored that I have only approached that one as a dessert; maybe it’ll be a more welcome set of all-day flavors as we get closer to the fall.
Pineapple Basil is the winner for me, but I’m just partial to all things pineapple, and I love when a hard seltzer brand gets it right.
Nothing too radical here: 110 calories per 12-oz. can, 5g sugar, 7g carbohydrates, and 4% alcohol. I always prefer an ABV of 5%, but it seems central to Walberg’s vision that the product be low-ABV, so I’m happy to sip on her tasty invention and quit my bellyaching.
Perhaps because of its success at Seltzerland, Press is available in all 48 continental United States. A store locator tool can be found here. (It’s at 50 different stores within a 10-mile radius for me!) That availability makes it too easy not to try this alternative seltzer, one whose flavors are less by-the-numbers and whose mission doesn’t seem to be to get you plastered. Imagine that.