Bigger cities may have had a taste of Spiked Seltzer last year, but it made its first big splash in the Valley this summer — packies were having a hard time keeping it on the shelves.

“It’s been really popular,” says one manager at Liquors 44 in Northampton of the Norwalk, Connecticut brand. “It’s the first unique thing that’s come out in a while.”

The canned and bottled beer that’s not a beer — its six-percent alcohol content and fermentation process render it a beer, though it contains no hops or wheat products — goes down just like sparkling Saratoga Springs. And that’s dangerous.

A friend of mine came over, raided the fridge and downed five of the cans before realizing they were six percent ABV. It shocked him because the alcohol is barely noticeable. Accidental drunkenness — in your face, fridge-invader!

And most drinks dubbed dangerously surprising in their alcohol content, like Not Your Father’s Root Beer and piña coladas, resort to heavy sugars to distract from the harsh-tasting booze, but one of these babies only has five grams of carbs and 140 calories.

I have to say I was pretty skeptical when I started hearing about them late this summer. And don’t even go and call them girly drinks, because I heard about them from three different dudes. Anyway, I had my doubts as to its deliciousness. I was pleasantly surprised. The rumors were true — it really does taste just like seltzer. Bubble burps and all!

The aftertaste, however, does hint at some fake sugar. I’m super sensitive to that pseudo-saccharine flavor, but this one’s not so bad.

The season is nigh, however, for darker liquids — red wine, whiskey, porter, and Belgian quads (yum) — so Spiked Seltzer is going to take a backseat for a while. But for those lighter-fare cravings for which you still want that buzz, these are a great option.

Basically, it’s the same as making yourself a vodka soda but with the added convenience of picking it up by the can or bottle, plus the fun flavors: West Indies Lime (my favorite), Valencia Orange, Indian River Grapefruit, and Cape Cod Cranberry.

I didn’t want to do it, but I decided I should check out some caloric facts for the purposes of comparison. One of my favorite cold-weather beers, Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing Company, has 270 calories and 25 grams of sugar. Ouch! Spiked Seltzer seems pretty much on par with most light beers in terms of sugar content, except most light beers fall in the 3.5 to 4 percent ABV, so the seltzers pack more punch.

Once I tire of bloating myself on wintry brown liquids, I’ll turn back to these light delights. Same buzz, less sugar, less hangover — yes, please!

Field Notes:

The Green Room isn’t so green anymore – happy almost birthday, cocktail masters! The Center Street, Northampton establishment turns one on Nov. 5. and will ring in their first year with a week-long celebration. A menu of surprise classics will be added to their drool-worthy repertoire and plenty of cheap bubbly to boot. And it’s speakeasy-themed, so dust off those flappers!

∎ Get mixing, Brattleboro area bartenders! Green Mountain Mixology’s Drew Kacik is kicking off a cocktail competition series on Nov. 3 at Duo Restaurant. Five Brattleboro bigwigs will be tasting cocktail creations from 10 mixologists. Samples will also be provided to attendees, who will be asked to vote on a “people’s choice” winner. For this first competition, the bartenders are required to use locally-made Sapling maple bourbon in their competing cocktails. Kacik says winners will receive Sapling products, local merchandise, and cash. Duo will provide hors d’oeuvres. Cover charge is $10 at the door.•

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