Hops are flowering plants that are used most commonly in beer that provides the signature bitter profile. To break it down even further, the whole flower provides these essential flavorings whereas the oil provides a more accentuated bitterness akin to citrus and pine. And lately they have been appearing in flavored seltzers.
That brings us to Athletic Brewing Company’s line of DayPack seltzers, which are non-alcoholic carbonated water infused with fruit-flavorings and hop oil. The purpose of the hop oil is designed that pleasantly bitter kick that any beer fan knows well.
Let’s see how these refreshments, available in four flavors, deliver.
DayPack Lemon Lime Seltzer – This drink is as advertised, with the bright and satisfying accent of lemon and lime wedges providing a fairly refreshing experience. Not too bubbly, there’s just enough carbonation to make it sparkle without the burn. The extra bitterness could be attributed to the citrus rinds, but I know the hop oils are making their presence known here. A-
DayPack Blood Orange Seltzer – This version is well balanced from nose to palate, where the blood orange makes a very natural appearance throughout. It does not taste sweetened, and the blood orange flavor isn’t too subtle, which tends to be common with most beverages that feature blood orange. There’s a touch of bitterness, but unless I had known about the hop oils, I would have accepted that they soaked this seltzer in a blood orange slice and let its rind infuse more boldly into the mix. A-
DayPack Mango Seltzer – A confectionary version of mango bombards the noise immediately, making me think of dainty mango custards and pastries served at banquets. On the palate, the fruit flavoring sits more subtly in the mix — but the aroma dominates all the same. It is definitely the most fragrant and “bold” of this quartet, but it’s still pleasant and refreshing. You just need to be in the mood for it. B+
DayPack Black Cherry Seltzer – This version is also noticeably fragrant, and the essence of black cherry is accompanied by a licorice-like herbal complexity alongside its fruitiness. This is another flavor that may not be as universal in its appeal, but it’s yet another refreshing offering. B+
These drinks are squarely in the seltzer category, with just a twist of flavoring that’s never overwhelming. The addition of hop oil provides a modest upgrade by accentuating each can’s bitter characteristics — though none of them taste like an IPA. The ingredients do disappointingly reference “natural flavors,” however the fruit notes were fresh and I could be convinced these variety of seltzers were the result of letting fresh fruit sit and infuse into the seltzer for a few hours. All in all, DayPack presents some crisp and refreshing beverages that one could enjoy on repeat without tiring out the taste buds.