by Robin Bakker
Ain’t no laws when you’re drinkin’ Claws.” Unfortunately for all the college-aged people who like to say and believe this, the law does not change just from drinking a White Claw. Especially when it involves underage drinking. And it is not just White Claw, but all hard seltzers.
Over the past year, hard seltzers have wiggled their way into stores, bars, and houses. “Sales of [White Claw] grew 283% to $327.7 million in July compared to the same period last year,” stated in an article on Fox2Now on Sept. 6, 2019.
It also goes to say that White Claw alone made up 55% of all hard seltzer sales just in the week of July Fourth. It is a 200% increase since the same week last year of 2018.
“We started bringing in White Claw because of popular demand and how many people kept asking for them,” said Shay McMenemy, a junior communications major, who bartends at World of Beer. “Once we got them in, they sell out pretty quickly. They are the first things we have to restock.”
Macdinton’s, The Dubliner, and Yard of Ale also now sell White Claw. Some of the bars are pricing the drink at $5.50 for one 12 ounce can.
“I can see that more people do drink them more often,” said McMenemy. “I think just because of the carbonation and the simple flavors they have; they are easier to go down. People can drink three or four whereas a typical beer you are going to be a slower drinker when it comes to the taste.”
One of the big issues for many drinkers is the dollar beer nights. With a lot of them not liking beer, having White Claw grants them a better option.
“I drink White Claw every Thursday now,” said Michelle Thorpe, a senior major at UT. “Dollar Thursdays at Macdinton’s is a better experience for me now that I can get a Claw instead of beer.”
Another student, Hannah Pope, junior criminology major, commented on how the drink affects her differently than most hard liquor.
“I think they are popular because they’re relatively cheap and don’t get you really drunk from them,” said Pope. “They are mainly for pre-games. I love that bars have them because it helps me get to a slow comfortable stage.”
Another reason they became so popular is the ideal of them being healthier than the typical drink. It helps people think they are staying more hydrated and does not make them bloated as much. Although, this does not necessarily mean it is true.
According to an article from Refinerery29, writer Cory Stieg notes all the health issues that go along with hard seltzers.
“Unlike a vodka soda or gin and tonic, which contain liquor mixed with seltzer or tonic, the alcohol in spiked seltzer comes from fermented sugars,” Stieg said. “So, when you crack open a bottle of spiked seltzer, you’re just drinking fermented sweetened seltzer.”
In the same article, Stieg compares spiked seltzer to “diet ice cream.” The people that eat it, end up eating more to make up for the dissatisfaction they got from the fake one. In comparison, people end up drinking more spiked seltzer than they would beer and wine because it takes longer to get drunk.
When drinking spiked seltzers, or any kind of drink, it is most important to stay hydrated before, during, and after according to Stieg, even if it does contain more water than most drinks.
The Assistant Director of Wellness at UT, Addie Carothers, mentions that though there may not be any side effects of the drink yet, it is still important to monitor how you drink them.
“When it comes to alcoholic drinks, these are typically a low sugar, gluten free option for people,” Carothers said. “The calories are around the same as other light beers. If the companies are straightforward with nutrition labels and alcohol content, then it allows people over the age of 21 to keep track of their blood alcohol concentration and responsibly consume alcohol.”
Part of the rise of White Claw can be credited to Trevor Wallace, a big social media star. He posted a video on Twitter at the end of June posing as a “frat boy” drinking White Claws. He captioned it “drinks White Claw once.”
As with most of his videos, he seems to make them for the humor of it and make something relatable to most people following him. He makes some one liners and acts out what it is like to try the drink. He helps show that boys can have a fun time with them, and it is not just a “girl” drink.
The first hard seltzer started in 2012 in Connecticut. Nick Shields noticed his family beer business falling behind against spirits and wine. At a bar, he saw five women in a row ordering vodka soda. So, he went to work trying to put together a light drink with a beer-making method.
In 2016, SpikedSeltzer went national after being sold to Anheuser-Busch. And soon followed similar brands. Some even with more alcohol than the next. While most drinks stick to the 5% range, FourLoko is a known drink with 14% alcohol. So, they decided to bring their sample to the test; a hard seltzer with 14% alcohol.
Jaisen Freeman, co-founder of Phusion Projects, the company that sells FourLoko, has told Justin Kendall of Brewbound, “Our lane has always been about more. More flavor. More ABV. More value. We’re not here to fit in. We’re here to stand out.”
Since then, more brands have decided to come out with slightly more alcohol content and different takes on flavors. But, most bars in Tampa stick to the classic White Claw.
Meanwhile at Target or Publix, one can buy a pack of 12 for less than $15. Some places will even have a buy two get one free deal. With this easy accessibility, it is no wonder they are running out of stock.
“We are working around the clock to increase supply given the rapid growth in consumer demand,” Sanjiv Gajiwala, White Claw’s senior vice president of marketing, said to CNN Business. “White Claw has accelerated faster than anyone could have predicted.”
Dylan Walker, a college student in Georgia, was inspired enough to make a meme sticker about White Claw. He even told Johan Bromwich from the New York Times, “the girlie drinks you see at parties changed over the years. It used to be Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas. Then it was Smirnoff Ice. Then White Claw took over.”
Thorpe believes the White Claw trend won’t last, and that a new drink will make its rise soon. “It’ll die off. Another drink has to take its place,” said Thorpe.
As “White Claw summer” (the other social media motto) comes to an end, and as the Tampa bars start providing hard seltzers, who knows how long this “summer” is actually going to last.
Robin Bakker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org