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Hard Kombucha, Hard Seltzer & Wine – How Do They Compare?

Craft brewers and other beverage makers are churning out tons of clever libations. Whether it’s a new interpretation (like hybrid beer styles), a modern creation (hard seltzer), or reviving a “tea of immortality” (long live hard kombucha), you have a mega-wall of choices at the corner store.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re on the hunt for high ABV or low calories, the booze landscape has something to match whatever stats you’re watching, diet you’re following, or just the flavor you’re craving. Hard kombucha should definitely be on your shortlist, giving you a thoughtful alternative to the likes of beer and wine — or just a tasty addition to your fridge mix.

How Hard Kombucha Is Made

While fermentation is at the heart of any alcoholic drink, different kinds start with different ingredients. For hard kombucha, tea leaves steep in water to launch the whole process.

But this isn’t some mellow cup of chamomile. We add a mixture of bacteria and yeast, which turns that tea water into a bubbly, refreshing drink — regular kombucha at this point, where alcohol hardly registers (we’re talking 0.2%–0.5%).

Strainge Beast hard kombucha emerges after a second round of fermentation, when additional sugar and fresh yeast create natural byproducts of alcohol and carbon dioxide. The cherry on top could be a literal cherry, as we’re all about infusing tasty combos of 100% organic fruits and herbs for a mouthwatering lineup of flavors, all of which are gluten free and vegan friendly.

Three flavors of Strainge Beast side by side

Hard Kombucha vs Hard Seltzer

Hard seltzer is pretty simple, with a foundation of plain water made fizzy with carbon dioxide. (Odds are you’ve sipped a non-alc version with a splash of fruit flavor.) As for its alcohol, we’re back to fermentation; yeast need a sugar source, and hard seltzer often uses pure cane sugar. And like hard kombucha, hard seltzer may feature fruits and other finishing ingredients to create distinct flavors.

Hold these two drinks side-by-side, though, and the comparisons can vary. Hard seltzer trends low in calories, which you can find in hard kombucha like our 100-calorie Watermelon, Sea Salt, Lime & Mint (4% ABV). That calorie count jumps with flavors like Ginger, Lemon & Hibiscus because of its higher alcohol level (7% ABV) and generous fruit additions. You won’t see many hard seltzers climbing above 5% ABV.

A can of Strainge Beast pierced with a watermelon skewer

Deciding between hard kombucha and hard seltzer also comes down to taste. Hard seltzer is light and airy, an easy sipper without any fuss. Hard kombucha has more raw ingredients and more complex fermentation, so expect a superior depth of flavor.

What Makes Hard Kombucha A Worthy Wine Alternative?

Drive past the rolling hills of a vineyard, and that horizon of grapes is ripe for a delicious transformation. The fruit is pressed or crushed before yeast — often naturally living on the grapes already — convert those grape sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Red wine includes the grape skins and seeds during fermentation, providing color and more; grapes for white wine ditch their skins before fermentation.

There’s a clear divergence when it comes to alcohol content of kombucha vs wine. There is a broad range for wine, but it’s common to see labels with ABVs in the double digits. Our Strainge Beast flavors, on the other hand, top out at 7% ABV.

While our nutrition facts are based on 12-ounce servings, wine is much less, around 5 ounces (gotta respect that hefty ABV). According to USDA data, a serving of “red table wine” has less than 1 gram of sugar and not quite 4 carbs; white wine makes a modest increase to 1.41 grams of sugar.

Pound for pound, then, our hard kombucha can be a solid wine alternative. Take our Watermelon, Sea Salt, Lime & Mint flavor, which clocks in at 4 grams of sugar and 5 carbs in a 12-ounce can. And with only 100 calories, Strainge Beast Watermelon edges out wine’s average in the low 120s.

Hard Kombucha vs Beer

Where kombucha begins with tea leaves, craft beer gets rolling with malted barley. Mixing hot water and malted barley, a brewing step called mashing, activates enzymes that convert barley starches into fermentable sugars. Then, you guessed it, yeast will eventually nom on those sugars to create alcohol. (Here’s your rabbit hole for hops and yeast strains, too.)

When it comes to the nutritional facts of hard kombucha vs craft beer, they can either be mirror images or miles apart. There’s such variety in craft beer — from low-alcohol “session” IPAs to beastly imperial stouts — that you can really choose your drinking destiny. If you want poolside margarita vibes with low cals, then Let’s Get Strainge. Or maybe the day calls for a beer, so the only question remains: What’s your thing?

And if a gluten allergy means beer is off the table, rejoice, Strainge Beast is gluten free.

In Kombucha Conclusion…

Hard kombucha can definitely share characteristics with hard seltzer, wine, and craft beer. Guided by stats like calories and carbs, you’ll find options across them all. But their differing ingredients and brewing processes mean unique flavors. So listen to the whispers of your taste buds, and feed their curiosity. After all, you’ve only got one tongue — do nice things for it.

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