The Summer of the Claw might be over, but the hard seltzer revolution is still going strong at metro Detroit taprooms. The fizzy drink’s low-carb and low-calorie status and meme-worthy ubiquity are driving huge sales for hard seltzers of all kinds. Since 2018, seltzer sales have grown by nearly 200 percent. And now, having seen the immense popularity of the beverages, many brewers who might have turned up their noses at Zima are now seeing dollar sign potential.
For Katie Palonis, who works at several Detroit bars including Whiskey in the Jar, it’s common sense to cash in. “If you don’t carry it, you’re missing out on some sweet profit,” she says.
Fellow veteran Detroit bartender Joe Schubert sees the trend as a “paradigm shift in how we drink.” For him, the move towards minimalist, bubbly seltzers also parallels a return to simplicity in cocktails. “What’s the opposite of a complex craft beer or a many-ingredient cocktail? Fruit flavored water,” he says. “Our collective palates are being reset and steering us back to the simple classics.”
There’s no doubt seltzers are approachable and easy to drink, no matter the season. These metro Detroit bars have all hopped on the trend, offering made-in-Detroit alternatives to Big Seltzer.
237 Jos Campau, Detroit and 1175 Lakepointe St., Grosse Pointe Park
Atwater sent Detroit drinksters into a tizzy when they announced they’d be canning their own spiked sparkling water over the summer. That session went quickly, but fortunately Atwater upped production and its second line, consisting of a hard cherry and a hard lime seltzer, is available now on shelves at many local liquor stores. In December, both Atwater Brewery and Atwater in the Park will bring back a rotating selection of Michigan cherry, lime, and mango. The Made in Michigan bar at Little Caesar’s arena also stocks the cherry flavor.
1529 Broadway St., Detroit
Last summer’s Tiger Claw seltzer was a smash success for the downtown staple, which celebrated its 16th anniversary in September. Detroit Beer Company makes small batches of seltzer in house weekly and rotates them frequently. Up now is the ultra-crisp cranberry-lime flavor.
52033 Van Dyke Ave., Shelby Charter Township and 22925 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
Shelby Township’s entry to the brewery bonanza, Brooks opened a satellite taproom location in Ferndale last June. Both locations have more than 20 kinds beer, including stouts, lagers, IPAs, and sours. Ferndale’s taproom is currently serving a hard black cherry seltzer, with high carbonation and a smooth cherry finish. The Shelby Township location features a tart raspberry seltzer.
575 S Eton St., Birmingham
One of the first local breweries to respond to the seltzer-steria, Griffin Claw’s offerings quenched Birmingham drinkers’ thirst in the heat of the summer with a black cherry hard seltzer. This fall, they switched up to a hard peach seltzer, packed with minerals and ultra bubbly.
42000 Grand River Ave., Novi
Novi’s Ascension is a gastropub featuring plenty of variety in its taps. Open format, picnic-table seating keeps the atmosphere casual. Ascension’s lemon-lime hard soda proved so popular after its initial run, the pub has decided to keep it on hand for a while longer. At 5 percent ABV, it’s a refreshing alternative to a hop-heavy fall lineup.
8521 Lilley Rd., Canton
Pizza, pop-ups, and popular local music make this microbrewery a beloved neighborhood hangout spot. Canton Brew Works also features trivia, board game nights and coaster art contests. They’re currently serving up two versions of Jewelz, a hard seltzer line, on tap: a pineapple tangerine seltzer and a blackberry version.
Other breweries are sure to join in, so let us know if we missed any at the tipline.