Editors’ Picks: Hoppy Seltzer, a New Cleaner Option, and a Bespoke Churchkey

From drinking to cleaning to a serious conversation piece, here are a few new products we’re enjoying.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff Apr 2, 2022 - 5 min read

Editors’ Picks: Hoppy Seltzer, a New Cleaner Option, and a Bespoke Churchkey  Primary Image

Photo: Jamie Bogner

Hop Wtr Sparkling Hop Water

$36.99 per 12-pack,

Hopped seltzer? Yes, please. Our love of hops is no secret, but let’s be honest—it’s not always wise or socially acceptable to drink beer. Hop Wtr gives us that flavor we love in a drink-anywhere nonalcoholic format. The kicker is, it doesn’t suck.

We’ve tasted plenty of nonalcoholic beers, and very few hit the mark for flavor. Hop Wtr gets the hop flavor right by foregoing the beer entirely. It’s just carbonated water with a carefully structured mineral content to highlight the light expression of Centennial and Columbus (in the Classic flavor) plus natural fruit flavors (in the Mango and Blood Orange varieties).

The only drawback? It costs more than most beer. At roughly $3 per 12-ounce can, it’s not something you can drink all day long. But better taste comes with a price, and Hop Wtr has won us over. —Jamie Bogner


Five Star Liquid PBW

MSRP $27.50 for 32 oz,

Like “black India pale ale,” the phrase “liquid powdered brewery wash” doesn’t need to make sense. What does make sense is a solution that’s easy to distribute in water and isn’t likely to be accidentally inhaled.

We recently reviewed PBW tablets in this space, balancing ease of use against the price compared to other brewery cleaners. For budget-conscious brewers, that’s always been a knock against PBW—and we go through it quickly. Like many others, I buy it anyway: It just works.

There is, however, another knock against PBW: holding your breath and wafting away that brief and potentially harmful powder cloud. Then there’s getting the powder to dissolve—I don’t know that it matters much in the end, but even when I use warm water, there are stubborn crystals swirling around in the bottom of the bucket.


Notably, the tablets appear to be the better buy. One 10-gram tablet is good for a gallon; at about $20 for a 40-count container, that’s 50 cents per gallon of solution. Meanwhile, a one-pound container of PBW powder may cost $11; that’s 69 cents per gallon. Finally, a 32-ounce bottle of liquid PBW from retailers costs at least $32; at recommended dosage rate, that’s $1 or more per gallon. (At Five Star’s suggested price, it’s 86 cents per gallon.) It adds up.

On the other hand, if you’re already used to paying for PBW for peace of mind, and you like the ease of use, then you’re unlikely to object. —Joe Stange

Forgework Bottle Axes Anniversary Opener


Those of us who spend time around brewing and beer love and appreciate well-made tools, and something special happens when form and function meet in the hands of craftspeople.

Forgeworks is a small metal shop in Fort Collins, Colorado. It got its start blacksmithing bottle openers that looked like Gothic torture devices or tribal tattoos. More recently, after teasing the release of this new five-year anniversary opener, they delivered with a beautiful yet functional handmade objet d’art in a variety of colorways. It’s sleek and contemporary but highly functional for modern drinkers, with a wax cutting blade and a cap-opening hook.

It reflects a palpable progression, integrating different materials and processes in a way that makes the experience of opening a beer every bit as aesthetically pleasing as drinking one. But let’s be honest: You really want one to prop up against the glass you just poured, as you take the photo for Instagram and Untappd because your glassware and opener should be as beautiful as your beer. —Jamie Bogner