It’s no secret that when summer finally arrives in the Pacific Northwest, Bellingham locals hit the outdoors. It’s what we do. Whether it’s going for evening rides at Galbraith Mountain or paddleboarding in Bellingham Bay, getting active outside is a pillar of Bellingham culture. And what better way to enjoy fun in the sun than with a refreshing beverage in hand?
In addition to the outdoors, Bellingham also loves a good beer, but it should be no surprise that something like an IPA with 7% alcohol can sit pretty heavy in the stomach while you are biking down a mountain. Last year, Bellingham Cider Company found a solution for a more recreation-friendly alcoholic beverage with their more recent endeavor: Bellingham Seltzer Company.
The idea for getting into the hard seltzer game came after Bellingham Cider Company signed with Sound Beverage
Distributors, Inc. in early 2021. Sound Beverage came to them with the idea of starting a local, natural seltzer business according to Bryce Hamilton, co-owner of Bellingham Cider Company and Bellingham Seltzer Company. Breweries around town had dabbled in hard seltzers but an untapped market remained. “They wanted to see a packaged product that could go in the grocery store,” says Hamilton.
Bellingham Seltzer Company’s seltzers aren’t like other seltzers you might see in the store. Hamilton says that because Bellingham Cider Company is considered a winery by their liquor manufacturing license, they have to make their seltzers differently than breweries or distilleries might.
“To make seltzer we can’t use cane sugar, or grain, or anything like the breweries can,” Hamilton says.
Instead, Bellingham Seltzer Company’s seltzer starts off with an apple wine base that is around 12% to 16% alcohol which gets diluted down with water to about 4.5% alcohol. Then, the flavors come in. Real fruit juice is used to create the black cherry, pink lemonade, and mango seltzer flavors.
The sleek, bright cans tell you this is a refreshing, summery beverage, and it only gets better once you crack one open. The different juices used in the seltzer give each flavor its own color. Apparently, bubbles, a little fruit juice, and some apple wine go a long way. The diluted apple wine brings in a subtle cider flavor just enough to give a light sweetness that isn’t overpowering, making it easy to drink. Pink lemonade might be my favorite, giving the fresh, crisp deliciousness you get with a normal lemonade, with the drinkability of a seltzer that says you should probably have another.
Bellingham Seltzer Company keeps its roots in cider but brings the light simplicity of a seltzer, achieving exactly what they hoped out of their new products: a seltzer that makes you want to get out and do something.