When a beloved seltzer brand decides to spike its own supply, good things happen

Arctic Chill hard seltzer crafted with Polar Seltzer
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

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 hello@thetakeout.com.

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I can tell you from experience that there are people on the East Coast who build their entire identities around their belief that Polar is a superior seltzer to LaCroix. Or at least, they did back in 2015 when such debates were at their zenith. I never came down on either side of the fence; both are solid, middle-of-the-road options with decent fizziness and very light flavoring (or “essence,” in industry parlance). Both brands offer one-liter plastic bottles of their seltzer that don’t taste half as good as their canned version. And both companies have a homegrown small-town vibe, and deservedly so: LaCroix began in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and established itself as a Midwest staple throughout the 1980s and ’90s, while the New England–based Polar Seltzer boasts on its website that it has been “family made since 1882”—an entire century before its competitor. Hell, I’d brag, too.

Because of that proud family-based branding, it’s surprising that Polar was so game to leap into the slightly less upstanding world of hard seltzers. But now it’s time to say hello to Arctic Chill, a flavored malt beverage “crafted with Polar Seltzer.” What distinguishes it from other hard seltzers? Well, I wouldn’t consult the Arctic Chill website for an answer to this question, because its circular reasoning made me slightly dizzy:

THE SPARKLE SETS US APART. Arctic Chill is the hard seltzer for people who genuinely love seltzer. All Arctic Chill recipes feature Polar Seltzer as the key ingredient.

So, Arctic Chill by Polar Seltzer is great… because it contains Polar Seltzer? Sure, I’ll buy that. (There’s also a weird section within the site’s mission statement that conflates body positivity with drinking low-calorie beverages, but that is a rat’s nest I will do myself the courtesy of not wading into.)

The Arctic Chill vs. White Claw debate recycles a lot of the old Polar vs. LaCroix talking points. Some drinkers are bound to have a strong loyalty to the newcomer right off the bat, and those people will insist that it is better than the major hard seltzers on the market, for reasons! It shares many traits with its non-alcoholic forebearer, including a lineup of flavors that neither surprise nor offend. When a new seltzer hits the market these days, it helps if it has an edge over the considerable competition. Arctic Chill seems to have carved out a good one for itself: “We’ve been around for 140 years,” it seems to say. “Do you honestly think we’d screw up our track record now with a subpar product?”

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The specs

Pretty much what you’re used to by now: tall, slim cans, 5% ABV, 0g sugar, no artificial sweeteners, naturally gluten-free. Each 12-oz. can contains 100 calories and 3g of carbohydrates. So far, Arctic Chill is available in nine flavors:

  • Ginger Lime
  • Pineapple Pomelo
  • Ruby Red Grapefruit
  • Raspberry Lime
  • Black Cherry
  • Fresh Lime
  • Strawberry Watermelon
  • Mandarin Orange
  • Cranberry Lime

Best flavor

Honestly? Fresh Lime. Most variety packs of hard seltzer focus on orange, lemon, and grapefruit as their citrus heavy-hitters, then add lime as a supporting character to other flavors (as you can see above, with Ginger Lime, Raspberry Lime, and Cranberry Lime). But it’s such a fun flavor we don’t get to experience on its own often enough, and this can earns the “fresh” part of its name.

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Worst flavor

Black Cherry. But if you have ever tasted literally any Black Cherry flavored hard seltzer, you already knew this.

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Where to buy

Arctic Chill is currently available in 25 states, with plans to expand. The Find Us page has a handy location map. Drizly, Gopuff, and Instacart also deliver.

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Verdict

This stuff isn’t going to make a convert out of a seltzer skeptic; it’s not revelatory enough for that. But it’s a valuable addition to your cooler when you want to pleasantly surprise guests who are expecting to see the same old Trulys when they open the lid. And if you happen to be entertaining any East Coasters, get ready to hear them launch into a delighted screed about the superiority of Polar Seltzer. It just comes with the territory.

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Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

DISCUSSION

tomridesbikes
TomRidesBikes

How is the grapefruit? That’s usually my go to flavor.