Last month, Cherry Hill’s Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Co. received some bubbly news: Its J’aime Sparked Seltzer beat out national top-selling brands White Claw and Truly at the country’s first hard seltzer tasting competition and festival.
A seven-judge panel made up of sommeliers, beer experts, and restaurant-industry professionals sampled 35 entries (both brewed and distilled, more on that later) at the Denver-based Fizz Fight. Among the 29 brewed entries, J’aime clinched second place, just behind Itz Spritz’s Elderflower Citrus flavor, and one place above Cape Line’s Hard Strawberry Lemonade.
J’aime is brewed white tea, tangerine oil, and hibiscus powder, which gives the drink a slight pink hue. It holds an extra-dry finish, and clocks in at 5% ABV.
Since its release in June, J’aime — named after the French word for “I love” — has become a top seller at Forgotten Boardwalk’s tasting room. The 16-ounce cans are also available at dozens of New Jersey retail stores, including Wegmans, Wine Warehouse, Acme, and Bottle King locations. A four-pack costs $9.99 at most outlets.
The citrusy seltzer is also on draft at South Jersey bars and restaurants like Cherry Hill’s Farm and Fisherman, Marlton’s Chickie’s & Pete’s, and Atlantic City’s Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar. A full list of locations that carry it can be found here.
Forgotten Boardwalk is primarily a brewery — their tap list currently includes everything from a smoked porter to an imperial IPA to a nitro cream ale.
“I was looking for a gluten-free option for people in my tasting room,” says Forgotten Boardwalk co-owner Jaimie Queli. "Because of New Jersey laws, I couldn’t offer wine or cider, and so we tried out our first seltzer.”
Unlike distilled seltzers, which are essentially made by diluting, then carbonating distilled spirits, J’aime is brewed: It starts with a base of sugar water that, when mixed with yeast, ferments until it reaches the desired ABV. When it’s finished, the secondary ingredients are added, like tangerine and hibiscus. Finally, it’s carbonated and canned.
On Wednesday, Forgotten Boardwalk officially released its second hard seltzer, Peach Lemonade. It aims to have four flavors available by this time next year. Currently, the brewery is experimenting with a dragon fruit, mango, and rooibos tea combination, as well as a Japanese pear with jasmine green tea.
“Next year we’ll be taking first and second place [at Fizz Fight],” says Queli.