No one knows this better than Eddie Leon, whose M.I.A. Beer Company was the first Miami brewery to make hard seltzer, debuting its Hrd Wtr in 2016.
“Hard seltzers have positioned themselves at the nexus of convenience and health,” Leon tells New Times. "It's here to stay."
These carbonated, water-based hard seltzers are essentially ready-to-drink cocktails, most ranging from 4.5 percent to 6 percent ABV. Made from either malted barley or fermented sugar — or an apple base like the one M.I.A. uses to make its Hrd Wtr+ — the breweries even boast that they're gluten-free. Most contain 100 calories or less per can.
These past six months, hard seltzer's continued appeal hasn't gone unnoticed by South Florida brewers. Since it first hit the market in 2013 with Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, the category has grown to include both large- and small-scale breweries looking to take the trend in a more experimental or artisanal direction.
Below, in alphabetical order, are seven South Florida hard seltzers made by local breweries:
3 Sons Brewing236 N. Federal Hwy., Dania Beach
One of the more recent contributors to the craft-seltzer scene, 3 Sons brewer/founder Corey Artanis has come out of the gate with his own super-fruited take on the trendy libation. His first release debuted this month, a smoothie-style take in collaboration with California-based Bottle Logic that's flavored with coconut, guava, passionfruit, and pineapple. Dubbed Aloha, it bucks the trend of the lighter, artificially flavored styles you'll find on grocery shelves, clocking in at 9.6 percent ABV and available on draft and in cans. When this batch is gone, expect Artanis to continue exploring the style with future releases.
Funky Buddha1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park
Florida’s imaginative craft-beverage creator Funky Buddha doesn't disappoint with its fruit-forward take on hard seltzer. The brewer is so confident in its product, it even created a Super Bowl commercial in honor of its most recent rollout. More than a dozen flavors are available in variety 12-packs, including a new line of tropical flavors adding starfruit, passionfruit-dragon fruit, pineapple-coconut, and kiwi-tangerine to the mix — all available exclusively in the state of Florida. The seltzers boast 90 "Funky" calories, one gram of carbohydrates, and zero grams of added sugar.
Invasive Species Brewing26 NE Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Invasive Species in Fort Lauderdale creates a craft alternative to mass-produced hard seltzer that uses natural flavors. There's always a hard seltzer on draft at Invasive Species these days; popular favorites include a piña colada that uses real coconut and pineapple, as well as vanilla-, peach-, mango-, and pineapple-infused sour hard seltzers that go down as easy as an Orangina.
J. Wakefield Brewing120 NW 24th St., Miami
In May 2020, J. Wakefield Brewing launched its very first Wake Water — the Miami brewer's take on Florida-inspired, fruit-flavored hard seltzer. The inaugural batch was flavored with guava, passionfruit, and mango — a tribute, no doubt, to Wakefield's famous Berliner, Miami Madness, which is made with those same fruits. Similarly, the next was an ode to another J. Wakefield favorite, the DFPF, a pink-hued hard seltzer with dragon fruit and passionfruit. The idea is to use fresh tropical ingredients as the sour beers the brewery is known for producing. In the past several months, additional flavor combinations have hit the canning line — there's seemingly no end to the fruit-inspired takes you'll find from one of Miami's favorite brewers.
M.I.A. Beer Company10400 NW 33rd St., Doral
M.I.A. Beer's Eddie Leon began experimenting on a hard coffee and soda drink and wound up creating a seltzer-like product instead, just before the trend blew up. Today, M.I.A.'s Hrd Wtr is on tap at the Doral tasting room and distributed nationally. Leon recently launched an enhanced version, Hrd Wtr+, a cider-based hard seltzer that contains 4 percent ABV, no added sugar, fewer calories, and tons of flavor.
Unbranded Brewing1395 E 11th Ave., Hialeah
Miami's Unbranded Brewing separates its hard seltzer from the rest with one very special ingredient: Champagne yeast. The resulting liquid is dry and bubbly, a moderately sweet take on hard seltzer that pours a beautiful golden hue. Ringing in at a moderate 8 percent ABV, the seltzer is available at the Hialeah taproom on draft or in cans to-go.
Veza Sur55 NW 25th St., Miami
This summer, Veza Sur will release its new spiked seltzer, Lucita. The focus here: Latin American-inspired flavors. Lucita offers a hint of tropical flavors in its line, including guava-lime, passionfruit, grapefruit, and mango. The seltzer will be available for purchase at the brewery, in variety 12-packs in local supermarkets, convenience stores, and liquor shops throughout South Florida. this summer. (For every 12-pack sold, Veza Sur will donate $1 to the Coral Restoration Foundation, a Florida-based, nonprofit organization that's dedicated to restoring coral reefs to a healthy state.)