Crafting your own hard seltzer at home is a breeze, similar to the process of brewing beer or whipping up a batch of homemade mead, cider or wine. You will require the essential equipment, the necessary components (or a pre-made hard seltzer recipe kit), a set of instructions to follow and either plastic bottles or a means of kegging your seltzer creation. Here's a breakdown of the steps involved in making your very own hard seltzer at home:
Ingredients Required for Making Hard Seltzer:
6 gallons of distilled or reverse osmosis (RO) water. If you use tap water, the end result will be cloudy and may have too many minerals or overly strong flavors for the desired end product. We strongly recommend distilled or RO Water.
Mineral water pack consisting of 1.25 grams magnesium sulfate aka Epsom Salt (Heptahydrate), 1.25 grams magnesium chloride (Hexohydrate) and 1.5 grams sodium bicarbonate aka Baking Soda.
3 pounds of corn sugar (the yeast will convert the sugar into alcohol. Your spiked seltzer should end up around 3.4-3.8% ABV).
Fermentis SafAle US-05 dry brewing yeast for fermentation.
Chitosan fining (Please note chitosan is made of shellfish. Do no use if you are allergic to shellfish. Without chitosan your hard seltzer may end up slightly cloudy, but will still taste OK). An alternative to chitosan would be gelatin finings (use 1/2 teaspoon for a 5 gallon batch).
5 ounces of priming sugar is required if you plan to bottle your spiked seltzer.
Flavoring is optional. We recommend using 1 dram of LorAnn natural flavoring oil. Choose your favorite fruit flavor or try something different like a peanut butter dram.
Equipment Needed to make Homemade Hard Seltzer:
We highly recommend our Brew Share Enjoy Homebrew Starter Kit if you do not already have the necessary equipment to make your own hard seltzer. This kit will give you a 5 gallon boil pot, primary fermenter, secondary fermenter/bottling bucket, a hydrometer, bubbler airlock, 21'' stainless spoon, tubing, sanitizer, bottle brush, and more. Everything you need to make hard seltzer at home is included in that kit except plastic/glass bottles or a keg to hold your finished seltzer. We also carry a variety of other Starter Kits to help you on your brewing experience.
If kegging your spiked seltzer, you will need a keg system or kegerator. If you already have a system or kegerator and wish to add an extra keg specifically for your hard seltzer, we have New Kegs available in 4 sizes.
Brewing Instructions for Making Hard Seltzer at Home:
In a brew kettle bring 2 gallons of water to a boil. Remove the kettle from heat and gently stir in 3 lbs of corn sugar until fully dissolved. Quick Tip: Stir and dissolve 1 pound at a time. Also be sure to continuously stir so the corn sugar does not stick to and scorch the bottom of the kettle. The water will appear clear again when the sugar is fully dissolved.
Add the mineral pack (epsom salt, magnesium chloride, baking soda) to the water and stir vigorously until fully dissolved.
Return the kettle to heat and boil the mixture for 5 minutes.
Cool the seltzer mixture to 90 degrees F and carefully transfer into your primary fermenter (6.5 to 8 gallon bucket or carboy). Quick Tip: A simple method of chilling the mixture is to place your brew kettle into an ice bath in your sink. Fill the sink 1/4 full with cold water, then place the kettle into the sink and add additional cold water to the sink as necessary (do not add water to the kettle). Place ice cubes all around the kettle. Allow the ice cubes to melt and the sink water to warm, then remove the kettle from the sink and repeat the process 1 or 2 more times until the temperature of the seltzer mixture reaches 90 degrees F.
After you have transferred the mixture to the primary fermenter, bring the total volume to 5 ¼ gallons of water with distilled or RO water. Reminder: If you use tap water, the end result will be cloudy and may have too many minerals or overly strong flavors. We strongly recommend using distilled or RO Water to bring the total volume to 5 ¼ gallons.
Using a hydrometer measure the original gravity and write it down for future reference. The starting gravity should be between 1.024-1.028 depending on the exact volume of liquid.
Sprinkle the package of SafAle US-05 yeast across the top of the seltzer mixture. If using a bucket, seal the bucket with the lid and airlock. If using a carboy, seal the carboy opening with a drilled rubber stopper and airlock.
Hard Seltzer Secondary Fermentation:
After 5-7 days measure the gravity of the hard seltzer using a hydrometer. The gravity should be between .999-1.002. If the gravity is within this range or slightly lower, then use an auto-siphon and tubing to rack the hard seltzer into your sanitized secondary fermenter (5 gallon carboy). Airlock activity may briefly increase as the remaining sugars are fermented.
With the seltzer in the secondary, gently stir in the chitosan pack and let the hard seltzer sit for 1-2 weeks until fully cleared.
When the seltzer is fully clear, measure the gravity again using a hydrometer. Final Gravity should be .999 or slightly lower. The original gravity minus the final gravity multiplied by 131 will give you the approximate ABV of the spiked seltzer (should be between 3.4-3.8%). Here is the formula to calculate ABV: ((O.G. – F.G)*131)=ABV.
How to Bottle Hard Seltzer at Home:
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and gently stir in 5 ounces of priming sugar until fully dissolved and clear. Allow the sugar solution to cool to room temperature while completing the next 2 steps.
Move the secondary carboy to the location where you will be bottling your homemade hard seltzer. Try to be as gentle as possible to prevent stirring up any sediment from the bottom. If you do stir up sediment, then let the carboy sit for 20-30 minutes after moving so that the sediment will re-settle. Then use an auto-siphon and tubing to rack the hard seltzer from the secondary carboy to a sanitized bottling bucket.
With the seltzer in the bottling bucket, you can now add your flavoring and gently stir it in until evenly distributed. Skip this step if you are making plain mineral water.
Add the cooled priming sugar solution to the bottling bucket and gently stir until evenly distributed.
Connect a siphon hose to the spigot on the bottling bucket. Connect a bottle filler to the other end of the hose. Fill the first bottle until the seltzer is 1" from the top and cap the bottle. Proceed to fill and cap the remaining bottles until no hard seltzer is left in the bottling bucket. Quick Tip: Fill 6 bottles in a row and then cap those 6 bottles. Continue to fill and cap bottles in increments of 6.
Allow the bottles to carbonate naturally in a dark room or closet for 2 weeks. Then place one bottle in your refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours. Once fully chilled remove the cap on that bottle and pour into your favorite seltzer glass. Enjoy! If you are not satisfied with the level of carbonation in the first bottle of seltzer (it is too low), wait another week and then chill down a second bottle. If you are happy with the carbonation and flavor of the second bottle, then proceed to add as many bottles to your refrigerator as you please.
How to Keg Hard Seltzer at Home:
The night before you plan to keg, cool the spiked seltzer in the secondary carboy to 34-36 degrees F.
When you are ready to keg, move the secondary carboy to the countertop (located above your keg) where you will be kegging your hard seltzer. When moving the carboy try not to stir up any sediment from the bottom. If sediment is stirred up, let the carboy sit for 20-30 minutes before kegging so that the sediment will re-settle.
Siphon your hard seltzer into the keg.
With the seltzer in the keg, you can now add your flavoring. There is no need to stir, the carbonating process will take care of that. Skip this step if you are making plain mineral water.
Close and completely seal the keg lid and connect the CO2 to the gas post.
Set gas to 50 PSI. If your regulator only goes to 30 then set to 30 PSI. 50 PSI is preferred, but not critical.
Turn the keg on its side and gently roll back and forth for a solid 15 minutes. You will hear gas bubbling into the keg during this time as the regulator lets the gas through.
Disconnect the gas, gently burp the keg until any excess gas is released, test serve a small sample and check for desired carbonation. Repeat the previous two steps for 5 minutes at a time until the hard seltzer is at your desired carbonation.
Hard Seltzer Recipe Kits
An easy way to make your first batch of spiked seltzer at home is to try a hard seltzer ingredient kit. Each kit includes mineral water packs, corn sugar, chitosan fining, natural flavoring (or the option to add flavor) plus detailed instructions on how you can make your own homemade hard seltzer. Cheers!