The White Claw craze, and to be fair, hard seltzers in general, took the nation by storm last summer and have since secured their place as the refreshing and portable low-cal drink of choice. The craze comes as many millennials seek healthier, lower-calorie, and lower-carb lifestyles. For reference, a 12-oz can of White Claw contains 100 calories and 2g of carbs – by comparison, a Budweiser has 145 calories, 11g of carbs, and a glass of wine has around 125 calories and 4g carbs.

While I do find occasion to enjoy hard seltzer (when I run out of wine), it's not often my go-to drink of choice. Does anyone actually like how they taste? The good news for those who want a refreshing, low-cal summer beverage – but don't want the equivalent of a watered-down Skittle mixed with malt liquor, is that there's a new sheriff in town. Meet hard kombucha.

What Is Hard Kombucha?

Most kombucha you'd find at any health food or grocery store is made by mixing sweetened black or green tea with SCOBY - a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY converts the sugar into CO2 and alcohol, creating that delicious end product we've come to know and love. Kombucha can naturally reach around 3 percent ABV, but anything sold in stores is considered non-alcoholic and has less than 0.5 percent ABV.

Hard kombucha takes things up a notch. Hard kombucha typically endures more than two rounds of fermentation, at which time companies add more yeast and sugar to further ferment the beverage and increase the alcohol content.

Of course, depending on the brand, the specific formula can vary greatly– but generally are from the 3-8% ABV range. Some brands infuse theirs with fruits, spices, and even adaptogenic herbs.

Is Hard Kombucha Healthy?

If you're looking for something that negates all the terrible effects of alcohol, keep looking. However, the health benefits of hard kombucha are likely similar to regular kombucha, which provides essential support for your gut. Gut health can affect everything in your body, so balancing and understanding it will likely reap positive results. Hard kombucha is gluten-free and will generally have less caloric value than beer or wine, coming in at around 100 calories and less than 2g of carbs.

It is important to note that your hard kombucha has to be refrigerated for the probiotics to be live and useful. You can't leave a six-pack out on the counter like you can with beer.

A Few Of Our Favorites

Overall, I am pro probiotics and have happily jumped on the hard kombucha train. The fizzy, sweet-tart taste is refreshing, enjoyable, and doesn't leave me feeling bloating and full. Here are 5 brands worth checking out:

JuneShine– 6% ABV

Made in my hometown of sunny San Diego, Ca, JuneShine was born out of the desire for more transparency from alcohol brands catering to a healthy, active lifestyle. JuneShine is made of green tea, honey, Jun (made with honey instead of cane sugar), juice, and spices. Flavors such as Blood Orange Mint, Cucumber Mojito, and Honey Ginger Lemon make JuneShine a super sippable summer choice.

Flying Embers - 7% ABV

This boozy booch touts 0g of sugar and comes in fun flavors such as Watermelon Basil + Sea Salt, Blueberry Cassis, and Rhodiola Rose. Brewed in Ventura, Ca with botanical adaptogens, the name Flying Embers comes from a near-tragic tale of wildfires that almost destroyed the founders' distillery, and in turn, renewed their sincere appreciation for nature and life itself.

Wild Tonic - 5.6% - 7.6% ABV

Brewed with Jun (a cousin of traditional kombucha), Wild Tonic comes in flavors like Blueberry Basil and Tropical Turmeric. The stronger line offers alluring flavors such as Dancing Naked, Backwoods Bliss, and Mind Spank. Brewed in Arizona, owner Holly Lyman describes the buzz from Jun as an "enlightened buzz."

Unity Vibration - 8% ABV

Unity Vibration began as a kombucha tea company in Carpinteria, California, and through a series of fateful events, launched Kombucha Beer in 2011. Although it has the word beer in the name, rest assured, it's still gluten-free and comes in fun flavors such as Bourbon Peach, and Raspberry.

Boochcraft - 7% ABV

Boochcraft, also made in San Diego, Ca, is brewed exclusively with real organic ingredients. Flavors include Watermelon Chili, Spiced Pear, and Heirloom Kiwi.

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