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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Making Hard Seltzer Using Flavored Sparkling Water

Spiking Flavored Sparkling Water

Joe “Jomebrew” Aiello

Calculating the amount of distilled spirit to raise the ABV of a beverage to a specific percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV). All values are in ounces.

I started this seemingly simple task of calculating the amount of alcohol to add to flavored sparkling water to achieve 5% ABV.

There are several commercially available hard seltzers that come in several fruity flavors but I wanted to see if I can spike flavored sparkling water to achieve the same flavor profile.

I did not want to taste alcohol and wanted to the amount of alcohol to be specific. I’d also like to know the number of calories in my spiked beverage.

I did ferment sugar and make a hard seltzer the hard way but really, the sparkling waters are inexpensive and readily available. Why not just spike it?

Find the ABV Calculator Here- Look For ABV Adjustments

How Does This Relate To Beer
The problem transcends just hard seltzer too. I’ve long pondered how much alcohol is needed to raise the ABV of a beer. I also ponder how much the ABV changes when I add bourbon to my beer however, this formula isn’t for that.With some tweaks, the formula could be used though.

The Problem
How much distilled spirit is needed to raise the ABV of a beverage to a specific ABV? You need to start with a few bits of information.

First, you need to start with the volume of the beverage. For this example, I have 12 ounces of sparkling passion fruit flavored water.

Next, you need the percentage of alcohol you want the final beverage to be. In the example, I am using 5%. We will use .05 for the calculations to keep it simple (5/100)

Now, you need to know the percentage of alcohol (ABV) of the distilled spirit. Here, I am using 80 proof vodka which is 40% alcohol. For the calculations, we will use .4 (40/100)

Finally! We have all the values needed to do our calculations.

Breaking Down The Calculation
The Formula we worked out is A*R/Q-R or


A = Starting Volume
R = Target ABV of the Beverage
Q = ABV of the Distilled Spirit

As mentioned earlier, we’ll use the decimal value of the percentages:
A = 12
R = .05
Q = .4

So, plugging the numbers into the formula, we get (12*.05)/(.4-.05) or

This simplifies to .6 / .35 which equals 1.71.

So, we need to add 1.71 ounces of 80 proof vodka to the 12 ounces of sparkling water to achieve a 5% ABV beverage. Our new total ounces is 12 + 1.71 which is 13.71 ounces.

There is it! My 13.71 ounce Passion Fruit Hard Seltzer at 5% ABV.

Wondering how many calories are in the beverage? Pure alcohol has 246 calories per ounce.

Distilled spirits at 80 proof / 40% ABV run 64 calories per ounce. Since we are adding 1.71 ounces of 40% ABV distilled spirit, we simply multiply 1.71 X 64 which equals 110 calories per 13.71 ounce Hard Seltzer.

How About Beer?
Looking at raising the ABV or a beer by 1% to take my Vanilla Porter to an Imperial Bourbon Vanilla Porter, I’ll need to know how much beer I am starting with.

I’ll start with 5 gallons of beer.
I’ll want to user 90 proof Bourbon.
I want to raise the ABV by 2%

The quick formula is (640*.02)/(.45-.02) since I have 45% ABV Bourbon and 5 gallons is 640 ounces.

Raising by 2% ABV. I will need 13.4 ounces of Bourbon or about ¾ of a pint! That is almost half a 750ML bottle. I think that will be a bit too much Bourbon.

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