Hard seltzer has changed the way Americans drink—and whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay. The refreshing summertime staple that started it all? White Claw. Though there are now more than 150 brands of hard seltzer in the United States, our love for Claws hasn’t gone flat. So, our team of tasting experts sought to try them all to determine the best flavors.
During the pandemic, the hard seltzer market more than doubled its size in revenue as e-commerce sales rose and younger generations began to gravitate toward low-alcoholic beverages. Like many modern drink trends (we’re talking to you, Negroni Sbagliato), White Claw has social media much to thank for its popularity, with young consumers flaunting the brand’s logo on t-shirts and making memes. There’s even a cheeky YouTube video that unofficially designated 2019 as “White Claw summer.” And with the recent emergence of craft hard seltzer and hard seltzers with real fruit, we think the category will only continue to grow.
But which White Claw flavors are best? We recruited our team of experts from Wine Enthusiast’s Tasting Department for a taste test of all the White Claw flavors. Yep, every single one. Each flavor was blind-tasted and rated on a sliding scale from 80 to 100. After the test, we averaged our scores to determine the top 10 cans that are expert-approved for everyday sipping.
What Is the Best White Claw Flavor?
Before we delve into the flavors that ranked best, here’s an overview of the White Claw flavor landscape. When White Claw first hit the shelves in 2016, it came in only four core flavors: black cherry, ruby grapefruit, raspberry and natural lime. A spunkier selection has since emerged, with newcomers like mango, wildberry acai smash and the semi-sophisticated limón lemonade with a hint of calamansi.
These new flavors are part of White Claw’s expanded line of other on-the-go beachside drinks. Its Surf collection includes flavor combinations like citrus yuzu and wildberry acai, whereas its Surge drinks offer a higher-alcohol option for a stronger buzz. They also launched the hard seltzer REFRSHR line in both lemonade and iced tea varieties, which share the same low-calorie and low-alcohol appeal as the original, but in flavors like blood orange lemonade with a hint of black raspberry and mango iced tea.
White Claw now offers a total of 29 flavors across the board, according to the current offerings listed on their website.
The Top 10 White Claw Flavors
10. Surf Watermelon Lime Smash
The White Claw Surf collection features interesting combinations of various tropical flavors. This synergy between watermelon and lime reminded our team of sweet candy favorites like tropical Skittles. “The nose is nice,” comments Wine Enthusiast’s Tasting Director Anna-Christina Cabrales. “And it literally tastes like Nerds.”
9. Surf Citrus Yuzu Smash
Another member of the Surf collection highlights yuzu, a highly aromatic citrus fruit of Eastern Asian origin. Our team found the exotic flavor to have a nice finish. “It has an interesting mintiness that makes me feel like I’m at a swim-up bar,” says Danielle Callegari, Wine Enthusiast’s Tuscany and Southern Italian wine reviewer.
8. Classic Ruby Grapefruit
Cabrales found this member of the classic collection to be “the safest pick” of all 29 flavors. The Ruby Grapefruit White Claw has a crisp finish that makes it a perfect base for this hard seltzer-inspired cocktail recipe.
7. REFRSHR Iced Tea Peach
Our team found the White Claw REFRSHR Hard Seltzer Iced Tea collection to be intense, but the peach flavor trickled in nostalgia for its similarity to a bottle of boozy Snapple.
6. Surf Wildberry Acai Smash
Another member of the Surf collection, the Wildberry Acai Smash was a crowd-pleaser for its ripe fruitiness and play on the complexity of acai berries.
5. Classic Natural Lime
This member of the original four White Claw flavors was a hit for its refreshing simplicity. We found the natural lime a solid pick for sipping straight or mixing with tequila for an extra-boozy sparkling cocktail.
4. Classic Black Cherry
Another member of the core four flavors, black cherry is an equally solid pick that won’t disappoint with its tart stonefruit taste and sweet, berry finish.
3. Surge Cranberry
“It reminds me of a Vodka-cran,” says Craig Chamberlain, Wine Enthusiast’s senior tasting coordinator. Also likened to a cherry Jolly Rancher, the Surge Cranberry is the only member of the high-alcohol collection that made the top 10.
2. REFRSHR Lemonade Limón with a Hint of Calamansi
“It smells like calamansi and actually tastes like lemon,” says Cabrales. Calamansi is a fragrant hybrid citrus fruit native to the Philippines, and the small hint is enough to take the simple lemon flavor to another level.
1. REFRSHR Lemonade Blood Orange with a Hint of Black Raspberry
“I think I just found my favorite,” shares Cabrales after sipping on the number one White Claw flavor. According to the team, the Blood Orange with a Hint of Black Raspberry Lemonade REFRESHR is a no-brainer pick for its noticeable acidity and unique combination of citrus and berry flavors.
What Type of Alcohol Is in White Claw?
The alcohol in a White Claw is made by fermenting cane sugar. Some circles consider White Claw a malted beverage, but this would imply that it is made from malted barley (which isn’t the case).
How Much Alcohol Is In White Claw?
Most White Claws contain 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). The brand’s stronger line of White Claw Surge Hard Seltzer offers a slightly boozier option containing 8% ABV.
Are White Claws Gluten-Free?
Yes! White Claws are made with gluten-free ingredients including carbonated water, fermented cane sugar and other ingredients. Since the alcohol in a White Claw comes from cane sugar rather than malted grains, the canned beverage is naturally gluten-free.
Last Updated: May 31, 2023