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New Holland Brewing Co. bourbon barrel seltzer combines sweet bourbon taste with hard seltzer fruit notes

New Holland Brewing Co. bourbon barrel seltzer combines sweet bourbon taste with hard seltzer fruit notes

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New Holland Brewing Co. bourbon barrel seltzer combines sweet bourbon taste with hard seltzer fruit notes

In just two short (long?) years, hard seltzer has boomed to become a significant segment of the alcohol industry, to the point where the market is oversaturated with hard seltzers.So these days, if you’re going to enter the hard seltzer game and compete with the White Claws and Trulys and Bud Light Seltzers of the world, you’re going to have to stand out.For one Michigan brewery, that means aging it in bourbon barrels.New Holland Brewing Co., perhaps best known for its year-round bourbon barrel-aged stout Dragon’s Milk, has unveiled Dragon’s Share, a line of bourbon barrel seltzers featuring original, orange, cherry and blackberry flavors.Six packs of orange and cherry, as well as a variety 12-pack also featuring blackberry and original, will hit store shelves this summer across Michigan. Each 12-oz. can is 90 calories apiece, 4.6% alcohol by volume, gluten-free and zero sugar.’Better than White Claw’: Could low-cal, low-sugar hard teas become the new IT drink?New hard seltzer flavors: Truly, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, more introduce new flavors for 2021″Aged in freshly dumped bourbon barrels, the premium hard seltzer is a true innovation in flavor, with pure water extracting bourbon and subtle flavor notes of vanilla, caramel, and spice that were locked away in the walls of the charred American oak,” New Holland Brewing Co. says in a news release. “The result is a refreshing and exciting new adventure for fans of both seltzer and bourbon, enjoyable in its pure Original form or paired with delicious natural flavors.”Barrel-aging is typically reserved for bold, dark beers such as stouts, where the bourbon, oak and vanilla notes are extracted over several months to create a symphony of flavors, resulting in some of the strongest and most complex brews you can find.Over the years, however, as craft beer has boomed across the United States and brewers toy with new brewing techniques, we’ve seen barrel-aging expand further into sours (though Jolly Pumpkin’s been doing that for years), Scottish ales, goses, IPAs and more. And, now, it’s happening to hard seltzers.It was only a matter of time.So how are they?I taste tested each flavor of Dragon’s Share from New Holland’s variety pack, all served cold, to get a sense of just what to expect from bourbon barrel seltzer.Here’s the key: The fruit has to come through first, with the bourbon underneath, for the flavors to mesh well together through the finish. Given that hard seltzer doesn’t lend itself to a complicated level of notes and mouthfeel, that balance has to be right for the drink to remain refreshing for those hot, summer days.I found this to be the case for the cherry and blackberry flavors, where the cherry and blackberry, respectively, came through with slight bourbon and oak notes on the back end that do just enough to compliment the fruit notes. The orange, however, was less balanced; the bourbon was too overpowering in my sampling. As for the original? It’s like drinking light bourbon on the rocks. It’s not bad, and might even appeal to hardcore bourbon enthusiasts, but it wasn’t as refreshing as it could be to me, especially for a drink at 4.6%. You might prefer something stronger (like, well, bourbon).Overall, New Holland’s Dragon’s Share seltzers are worth trying if you’re into hard seltzers or bourbon – or both. They might seem jarring at first if you’re not familiar with the sweet taste of bourbon infiltrating the refreshing fruit notes of a seltzer, but they’re unique enough to where you might enjoy them just a little more.Dragon’s Share will be available across Michigan, and folks can also order online in select markets later this summer. Spirits of Detroit writer Brian Manzullo covers craft alcohol for the Free Press. Contact him: bmanzullo@freepress.com and on Untappd, bmanzullo and Twitter, @BrianManzullo and @SpiritsofDET.


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