What Happens When A Beer Company Shelves Its Pride And Brews A Hard Seltzer?

Stone Brewing has released Buenavida Hard Seltzer, and the results are decidedly unique.

Welcome to Fizz Biz, a column all about the best hard seltzers. Know of any must-try products out there? Email us at hello@thetakeout.com. 

Breweries are a lot like fraternities, in that every brewery likes to explain how they're not like other breweries. Stone Brewing, which opened 25 years ago and is now (according to its website) the ninth-largest craft brewery in the U.S., has always displayed that sort of swagger in its marketing materials. The brand seems quite confident that the public at large already has some firm ideas about Stone. Case in point: The press release announcing Buenavida, its first hard seltzer product, is titled, "A Premium Hard Seltzer... In a Bottle... From Stone... Seriously?!"

This is, I think, where we're supposed to gasp.

Regardless of whether you know anything about Stone Brewing, Buenavida is a product worth trying. Not because of any particularly unique flavors in its lineup, nor because of its potency (it sits at 4.7% ABV, right around White Claw and Truly), but because its glass bottle is a key differentiator—one that makes the experience of sipping a hard seltzer feel new all over again.

California-based Stone Brewing heralds its new Buenavida Hard Seltzer as "the first hard seltzer to go to market exclusively in glass." In a press release sent to The Takeout, Stone's brand leaders explain the origins of Buenavida as something they should be embarrassed about, but aren't. See for yourself:

Buenavida Hard Seltzer is the result of the company's internal challenge put forth from their talented brewing team who asked of themselves "Can we make a hard seltzer, and can we make it actually taste... good?" It is fair to say that throughout the ranks of the team at Stone, there was a fair amount of skepticism.

"I admit that I was on the leading edge of that skepticism," said Stone Co-Founder Greg Koch. "My intermittent interactions with the world of hard seltzers had left me... and I'm working hard to be kind here... nonplussed. The category as a whole confused me, and I struggled to see why we would want to play in a space that seemed to overtly espouse a philosophy of mediocrity."

Needless to say, Stone got over that creative hump, because Buenavida started pouring on draft in July 2021 at the company's multiple breweries, and will hit shelves nationwide in January 2022. Here are the specs:

  • Flavors: Mandarin, Watermelon Lime, Black Cherry, Mango
  • Alcohol content: 4.7% ABV
  • Calories: 100
  • Cost: $17.99/12 pack
  • As I'm sure you've noticed, all of the above specs sound pretty much exactly like any other seltzer out there. For all of Stone's bold talk about defying mediocrity, ultimately the glass bottle is what you'll enjoy most about the Buenavida experience. It keeps a sharper fizz right up at the front of your palate, much like Topo Chico's narrow-necked bottles do. Beyond that, the flavors aren't super memorable, with Mandarin leading the pack in terms of uniqueness.

    But who even cares, really? Stone has achieved trailblazer status with its packaging, if not its flavor, and that's enough to make Buenavida certifiably Different From All Those Other Seltzers. It doesn't have to be the best thing you've ever sipped to be memorable. It just has to assure you that it's not like the other guys.