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White Claw: “We Disrupt Categories With Refreshing Innovations” 

Who is White Claw? Go onto the White Claw “about us” page and you’ll find it difficult to pin down any brand narrative, founding, ingredients, etc. You’ll see photos of a beach-chic “surfers” partying with White Claw and assume that they are “disrupting categories with refreshing innovations.”

The lack of transparency for White Claw doesn’t stop there. While the brand is loud on social media, marketing, and has quickly become a staple, the fun loving light drink doesn’t lead with the fact that it’s a creation of Mark Anthony Group, the same company that created Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Not as indie as White Claw’s packaging and creative flavors like Black Cherry suggest. 

The trend of White Claw corresponds directly with a cultural shift to caring about wellness. The distancing from Mike’s Hard Lemonade shows a shift from a sugary tart drink to the “clean” version that is low sugar, “gluten free”, Keto friendly, and lower alcohol content. 

Chris Furnari, the editor of the craft beer industry publication Brewbound suggests, “Additionally, many of the flavors — lime, raspberry, grapefruit, etcetera — remind consumers of the non-alcoholic versions that are likely already in the fridges at home.”

In fact, sales of La Croix that had a very similar “lightly flavored” health spin rose 45% in sales once White Claw hit the mainstream in 2019. The timing was perfect as more people aren’t drinking sodas and awareness that previous “health drinks” like Gatorade and Vitamin Water are still just sugar. 

Even though White Claw chased down comedian Trever Wallace with a cease and desist, White Claw really rose in popularity with his parody video. Unlike Mike’s Hard Lemonade, there’s something so pretentious about the “healthy alcohol concept” that we’ve loved making fun of it as much as we love buying it. 

There’s one more thing White Claw isn’t forward about: it’s unclear if there’s vodka in these vodka seltzers. Information on this isn’t very readily available, and certainly not on the site’s about page. However, it explains a lot. 

According to Vice, “at its most basic level, hard seltzer is seltzer with alcohol in it. What that alcohol is made out of can differ — usually it’s just fermented cane sugar with added fruit flavors, but sometimes, like other “flavored malt beverages” such as Bud Light’s Lime-A-Ritas, it uses malted barley. Most hard seltzers’ alcohol content hovers between 4 and 6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), which is about the same as a light beer.”

Hard Seltzer News (yes, there’s apparently a site for this) White Claw uses fermented cane sugar instead of vodka. This allows White Claw to contain alcohol but have very low sugar content – after all the sugar in neutral beverage is fermented, the only additional sugar comes from the flavoring. 

The use of fermented sugar instead of grain allows White Claw to be sold more as a wine or beer rather than a hard liquor, which makes a difference depending on state alcohol laws. A different seltzer brand, High Noon does use vodka and it can only be found in liquor stores in states that restrict liquor sales in grocery stores. 

The same process that makes White Claw low sugar is also how it’s low alcohol. A real vodka-soda would have a abv% of at least 12% (same as a glass of wine) while White Claw sits at 5% abv.