June, July and August of 2019. A writer at The Atlantic dubbed it White Claw Summer, a testament to the sudden popularity of the mass-produced hard seltzer brand. Hundreds of labels rushed to the market in its wake, few worthy of note.
Enter the craft brewing team from Five Window Beer Company, along with entrepreneur Veronica Camp. They launched California Seltzer Co. first as a small-batch operation delivering cans to client shops and restaurants from their base in Lodi, now with craft seltzers on tap at the company’s Pacific Grove taproom.
Although pineapple-lemon and “yum berry” are two of the more popular flavors at the moment, the company’s hibiscus-lime is perhaps the best ambassador for what hard seltzers could be. A hushed salinity whispered behind a squirt of lime exists around the fringes. But at its heart, the seltzer is floral – vaguely exotic with an earthy bent, yet sprightly and refreshing. There are flavors at play, something absent from so many of the gateway brands on the market.
Hard seltzers favor sunlit afternoons, where combinations like California Seltzer’s pineapple lemon are pleasantly reminiscent of popping two Life Savers candies into your mouth at once – with a little effervescence for dazzle. There’s youth appeal.
California Seltzer Co.’s taproom is also a restaurant and the wood fired pizza has been receiving praise.