Every Truly flavor, ranked

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked
Graphic: Karl Gustafson

Sometimes a food trend arises so quickly that it seems like the explosion occurred while I left the room to go powder my nose. Last summer, hard seltzer was my late-to-the-game revelation. In fact, I had to consult this very website to understand its sudden appeal. By August, everyone around me had chosen a favorite brand, a favorite flavor, and I was still sitting on the sidelines wondering why everyone didn’t just add some vodka to their Berry LaCroix like me. (I continue to defend this practice.)

Truly Hard Seltzer is a brand that has its fair share of diehards, and with a newly expanded suite of 16 different flavors, it’s time to decide which Truly is the winner, and which ones can be left behind in the cooler with all that rapidly melting ice. Summer is too short to waste on anything but the best beverages. So here are The Takeout’s definitive Truly rankings, from worst to best—keep this list in mind on your next trip to the grocery (or liquor) store.

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16. Original Lemonade

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Truly Lemonade is a special suite of flavors—you know they’re special because they come in the black can. Drink Original Lemonade if you’re seeking all the sugary pucker of Mike’s Hard Lemonade for fewer than half the calories and almost none of the sugar (just 1g per can). Do not drink this, however, if you intend to pair the drink with food, or if you’re someone who likes your spiked lemonade to taste primarily like lemonade. The lemon flavors in this can are good, aiming for more of a mellow Meyer lemon sweetness than a tart acidity, but the Stevia—not present in Truly’s non-Lemonade varieties—makes each sip land with a dull thud, collecting a flattening sweetness at the back of your throat rather than delighting the tip of your tongue with light, crisp lemonade feelings. If this is the only thing left in the cooler, go find a kids’ lemonade stand somewhere out in the neighborhood instead. BYO vodka.

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15. Strawberry Lemonade

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

By all means, continue scouting out lemonade stands, because Strawberry Lemonade doesn’t hide its Stevia any better, it just makes the whole experience a little more cacophonous. The strawberry and lemon flavors bounce off each other in a way that de-emphasizes both, so with each sip you’re aware that you’re drinking something ostensibly fruit-flavored, but identifying those fruits would be a nigh impossible task. Again, it’s a great alternative to something like a Mike’s Hard, if you’re more concerned with the nutrition label than the mouthfeel.

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14. Orange

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Truly has been tasked with squaring the circle: its alcohol is derived from fermented cane sugars, but it attempts to taste like neither alcohol nor sugar, just fizzy fruit—and all its fruit flavor must come from natural flavors and citric acid, without introducing additional sugar. As such, certain varieties fail to recognize their full potential, and Orange is one of them. It starts with a nice juicy, fruity burst of flavor, and just when you’ve swallowed each sip, a wave of something… else crowds it out: all the chemical processes that Truly is trying to hide behind the curtain of Orange flavor. It’s a flat, bitter, nearly metallic reflux that jumps up to your palate, only to be drowned out by the nice, refreshing start of the next sip. Maybe this is how Truly does such a volume business: only continual, unbroken sipping can tamp down Orange’s shortcomings.

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13. Black Cherry

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Watery. That’s what this flavor tastes like. A waterlogged cherry. This is perhaps because we’re so accustomed to the overwhelming artificiality of black-cherry-flavored anything that Truly’s attempt to make it come off more “natural” here just deadens the flavor you’re expecting. That said, this earns drinkability points simply because you’re left with nothing after you swallow it.

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12. Black Cherry Lemonade

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

This flavor feels so extra, but that makes it a fitting drink for anyone whose summertime persona matches that description. Lemon on the front and black cherry on the back, this is the Truly Lemonade variety where the Stevia is least evident, and it earns high marks for that alone. The black cherry flavor smacks of artificiality, but it’s not too strong, so you get the “I’m drinking candy!” feeling with none of the sweetness sitting in your stomach like a stone as, say, a bottle of Jones Soda might. And by the way, it’s another knock against the Black Cherry flavor that it’s outranked by the faux-sugar Lemonade equivalent.

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11. Mango Lemonade

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

This is almost a tie with Black Cherry Lemonade, for almost all the same reasons. But where Black Cherry Lemonade simply covered up the Stevia, the Mango Lemonade soars past it, leaving a lasting taste on your tongue that stays genuinely sweet rather than flattening out into that telltale dull “sweetener” flavor. The fruitiness of the Mango is impressively complex, moving through tart, tangy, and mellow moments. Of all the Truly Lemonade flavors, this is the one to pair with the hot summer sun and a backyard kiddie pool.

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10. Wild Berry

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Here’s the problem with Wild Berry flavor, Truly or otherwise: When you’re combining raspberry, blackberry, and strawberry—three berries with delicate flavor profiles, and whose appeal is derived as much from texture as taste—you’re left with sort of a muddled confusion of not-quite-sweetness. It’s inoffensive, but it’s also uninteresting. Much like a pint of low-quality berries.

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9. Watermelon & Kiwi

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Read the Orange entry, and know that 99.9% of that applies to Watermelon & Kiwi flavor—but the weird little bitter end note works slightly better here, because that’s frankly just what kiwi tastes like anyway. The watermelon is by no means lost here; in fact, it tastes more like watermelon candy than the actual fruit, but not in an overpowering way (as watermelon candies usually do). I can’t imagine it’d pair well with any backyard barbecue appetizers, but it’s a fine option if you’re sticking to a plastic tumbler of fruit salad.

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8. Blueberry & Acai

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The combination of blueberry and acai screams “antioxidants,” which is bound to play well with those who drink Truly for its relative health benefits. The flavors are certainly accurate, in that you’d likely know you were drinking a blueberry acai beverage if you took a sip blindfolded—in fact, it’s pretty cool how the front of each sip is mellow blueberry, rounded out by the more pungent acai on the back end. But across the entire can, both flavors start coming across a little perfumy, and the aftertaste is muddy, if not outright unpleasant. Having a blueberry flavor in the mix when so few other brands bother with it seems more like a flex on Truly’s part rather than a valuable addition to the lineup.

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7. Lime

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Of all the Truly flavors, this one skewed closest to its LaCroix equivalent. Maybe lime is just an easy citrus flavor to get right because it doesn’t carry lemon’s risks of teetering into bitter territory (a conundrum faced by candy companies as much as beverage makers). Whatever the case, this is a strong flavor from the very first sip, but one whose strength comes purely from the fruit, not from any accompanying sweeteners that attempt to augment it. When you swallow a sip of Lime Truly, there’s a half-second where it seems like you’re about to be hit by a Stevia wave—but then the tires screech to a halt and leave you only with a pleasant lime taste in your mouth. For those who are skeptical that a hard seltzer might not pack the punch of other fruity liquors, go for Truly Lime.

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6. Passion Fruit 

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

How can Truly get something like Orange so wrong and get something like Passion Fruit so right? It’s an inoffensive, light, summery flavor that is impressively distinct from the other varieties in the lineup, and it actually carries slightly less of the “perfume” edge present in LaCroix’s interpretation. Maybe the alcohol tamps it down; in any case, this is a nice out-of-the-box flavor for someone who already gets their fill of lemon and lime flavors in vodka lemonades and gin and tonics, respectively.

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5. Mango

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

If you’ve ever had any other mango-flavored alcoholic drink, you might not have the fondest memories of mixing tropical stone fruit and booze. In margaritas, it’s gilding the lily; in beers, it’s competing too much with the hoppy notes. In Truly, it’s sitting right in the Goldilocks zone. It’s bold and fresh without being sickly sweet or overpowering the palate. That’s one of Truly’s strengths: its best flavors know exactly how to fade away into the background. Pleasant with each sip, but not something you’re left thinking about all that much. The Bud Light Lime of hard seltzers, if you will.

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4. Raspberry Lime

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Truly boasts exactly what it lacks, or at least has very little of: gluten, calories, carbs, sugar—some Truly fans even cite its less aggressive bubbles as a reason they prefer it to White Claw. And with its Raspberry Lime flavor, Truly is showcasing its minimalism in the best possible way. Raspberry is already a mellow flavor, so it goes well with the overall vibe here, and there’s just a whisper of lime on the front end to give it some pep. These fruit flavors aren’t trying to be any sweeter or bolder than their fresh-picked counterparts. What you’re left with at the end is a shockingly convincing raspberry essence—which, of course, must be those “natural flavors” in the very short ingredients list.

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3. Lemon

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Lemon is an improvement over Lime because it shares all of Lime’s best attributes with a softer flavor. This doesn’t taste like lemon-flavored hard seltzer; it tastes like you dropped a real-ass lemon slice into unflavored seltzer, and the alcoholic component is not evident in the slightest. This is the ur-hard seltzer. This is the answer to the age-old philosophical question, “What if LaCroix, but boozy?” Ultimately, there are a couple other flavors that win out over Lemon because of their strength, but if all you want out of Truly is LaCroix that gets you oh-so-secretly tipsy, you’ll want to go for Lemon every time. Bravo, Lemon.

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2. Grapefruit

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

Ah, pamplemousse. Will your wonders never cease? Everything that makes grapefruit a slog to eat on its own—bitterness, pithiness, an overwhelming tartness—work with Truly’s mysterious alchemy to elevate the entire product. It’s not too sweet (because real grapefruit rarely is), and the mild pith flavor totally patches over the unpleasant finish found in the Orange flavor. Grapefruit Truly is strong, clean, and crisp. It’d probably take a whole six-pack for this flavor to grow too cloying.

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1. Pineapple

Illustration for article titled Every Truly flavor, ranked

“Oh!” This was an actual thing I exclaimed when I popped the top on my can of Truly Pineapple and took a sniff. Eyes closed, there’d be no way to tell that your nose isn’t hovering above a cutting board of freshly sliced pineapple. Here’s the real sorcery: After drinking a sip, your mouth is left with a slight “juiciness,” the way it would be if you bit into fresh pineapple. Maybe it’s the power of suggestion, with that big ripe slice printed right on the can, but the juice factor seemed more prevalent in Pineapple versus other flavors. There’s no bad aftertaste to contend with here, as with some other varieties, and the tartness of pineapple has been toned down just enough to make drinking the whole can all too easy. There are lots of flavors in the pack that I found just fine, and even some that I outright enjoyed—but Pineapple has made me a Truly convert. I’m stocking my fridge for the summer.

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Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.