Brewing a hard seltzer is easy in theory due to the limited ingredients and steps needed to make it. There are, however, some aspects that make it difficult to do in practice. The biggest obstacle we ran into initially was getting the right yeast nutrient mix. Because the sugar water mixture does not have any of the nutrients that are usually found in wort, you must add them yourself. There are a number of yeast nutrients on the market, but finding the right mix for the nutrient-barren hard seltzer is difficult. Our first couple of attempts at creating these nutrient mixes were unsuccessful, resulting in sluggish fermentations and final gravities 4 to 5 points higher than desired. After these attempts, we tried SeltzerMax from White Labs. We can’t stand blog posts that hide what you’re looking for, so if you want to save some time and skip the rest of this post I will tell you right here – it works very well. In this post, we walk you through our hard seltzer brew day and fermentation performance compared to our previous attempts. Let’s start with our ingredients.
We are not sponsored or endorsed by White Labs. Additionally, we are not compensated in any way to keep this review fair and unbiased.
- 5.5 gallons of water
- Calcium Chloride & Gypsum
- 3.78 pounds of Domino sugar
- Phosphoric Acid
- White Labs California Ale Yeast – WLP001
- 1 ounce of White Lab’s SeltzerMax
We use 11 ounces of sugar per gallon of water to achieve a starting gravity of approximately 1.030. We also add a small amount of calcium chloride and gypsum to achieve a water profile of 50 ppm of calcium, chloride, and sulfate. Phosphoric acid lowers the pH of the sugar water to the yeast’s optimal pH, which is in the low 5’s. White Labs recommends pairing liquid yeast with their SeltzerMax, so we used their California Ale yeast. Finally, the dosage rate of SeltzerMax is 1 ounce per 5 gallons.
Start by adding your salts and acids to the water. This lets you lock in your water profile and make additional pH adjustments beforehand. Stir in your sugar and SeltzerMax and then begin heating up the mixture to a boil. Your water can be pre-heated, but make sure the flame is off when you stir in the sugar and nutrients or you can scorch them on the bottom of the kettle. Boil the sugar water for 15 minutes to pasteurize it and then begin to knockout. Knockout to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have finished knockout, pitch your yeast and set the fermentation temperature to 67 degrees. Now that that’s all out of the way, let’s start the review.
When we pitched the yeast, we took our gravity reading to ensure it was right at 1.030, which it was. We also tasted it, and there was no noticeable flavor addition from the nutrients.
24 Hours Into Fermentation
This is the gravity reading 24 hours after pitching the yeast. The blow-off tube had a very steady release of carbon dioxide indicating strong fermentation. It had already dropped to 1.024, which is already a significant improvement from the batch without SeltzerMax. Without SeltzerMax, it took 4 days to drop to 1.024.
4 Days Into Fermentation
The gravity four days into fermentation was all the way down to 1.010. The blow-off tube was still releasing a steady stream of carbon dioxide, letting us know it was far from done. This is two weeks faster than it took our previous batch to drop to 1.010. There was still a slightly sweet aroma and flavor.
7 Days Into Fermentation
After one full week, the gravity dropped all the way to 1.000. At this point, it was very dry and completely neutral. There were no noticeable flavors or aromas added by the nutrient. There were also no noticeable signs of incomplete fermentation such as sweetness or green apple notes in the aroma. We transferred this to our Brite tank 3 weeks sooner than previous attempts at a final gravity 4 points lower.
Overall, we were very pleased with the results of SeltzerMax. We were able to produce a clean, crisp, neutral hard seltzer in 1/4 of the time it took us with our previous nutrient mix. If you have trouble getting a healthy fermentation with your hard seltzer, we highly recommend trying White Lab’s SeltzerMax nutrient. If you have tried any other yeast nutrients that worked for you, please let us know in the comments and we will try them out on our next batch. Cheers!