Enrique Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, stood for a photo at a recent political rally in Portland, Oregon, arms outstretched in a V, flashing the ‘OK’ sign with both hands, peacocking in a manner reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s victory pose. With a depleted cigarette dangling from his lips, Tarrio wore the fraternity’s black-and-gold Fred Perry polo shirt, a baseball cap reading ‘The War Boys’ and dark sunglasses — part Gen. McArthur, part steampunk hipster. The most curious part of Tarrio’s togs was stuffed in the front pocket of his tactical vest, where the grenade should be: a can of the light, refreshing, low-calorie beverage White Claw.
The fruity-flavored alcoholic drink with only two grams of carbs may seem a queer accoutrement for a supposed warlord of a group slandered as neo-Nazi street ogres. White Claw, which has exploded in popularity in the last couple years, is usually seen as the tipple of marauding, weight-conscious sorority girls. It’s the men who hope to bed them who’ve flocked to the beverage. After decades of the spiked seltzer industry attempting to lure thirsty males, White Claw has nearly become the Trump bro’s default brew.
‘It’s light, you can slam it all day long, and you won’t have the beer shits the next day,’ Alex, a 30-year-old Trump bro who works in cable news, explains. ‘And they have mango flavor. Who doesn’t like mango flavor? You can have your mango Claw and puff on your mango Juul at the same time. What’s better than that?’ he said, referring to a brand of flavored nicotine vaporizer.
White Claw controls the lion’s share of the spiked seltzer market. In 2019 sales were up roughly 250 percent year-on-year, revenue reaching nearly $1 billion, and White Claw held 58 percent of the hard seltzer market. Spiked seltzers are now available from Smirnoff, Budweiser and a host of smaller distilleries.
Other brands, especially Truly, fail to beguile the gullets of Trump bros, who remain staunch Claw-slammers. The beverages are nearly identical. Truly offers slightly more flavor options and boasts only one carb, compared to White Claw’s two. Hence the binge-drinker’s cry: ‘Two Carbs. Two Genders. Two Terms.’
The bros say Truly is for women and homosexuals. ‘Truly is truly gay,’ one says. His T-shirt bears a drawing of President Trump wearing a bandana, America flag aviator sunglasses and holding a can of White Claw with the text: ‘Ain’t No Laws When You’re Drinking Claws.’
‘Wrong. Truly is masculine,’ a 37-year-old homosexual Truly-guzzler told me while picking up a variety pack for his homo-exclusionary election night party. ‘The lemonade cans are black. Masculine, obviously.’
The Trump bros insist otherwise. ‘Truly is annoying. It’s a dumb name and it’s not very tactical. Claw is much more aggressive,’ a bro said, adding, ‘Bud Seltzer isn’t bad.’
To market analysts, a rise in health-consciousness among millennials explains the popularity of zero-sugar beverages, which usually have between 70 and 100 calories per can and 5 percent alcohol. While health per se may not be a factor among the bros, weight control is.
‘The occasional beer drinker won’t like the Claw, but the heavy beer drinker can see he’s packing on the pounds and is going to be more eager to make the switch,’ a Claw connoisseur confirms.
Claw pounders also claim to have significantly less severe hangovers, a claim backed by some science. Spiked seltzers do not contain congeners, a byproduct of fermentation found in red wines, whiskeys and other hangover culprits. White Claw makes for more day drinking: it’s more hydrating than traditional alcoholic drinks and, I’m told, is easier to conceal as a ‘soft drink’.
In 1993 the Coors Brewing Company rolled out Zima as a beer alternative (or ‘Zomething Different’ for those who recall the ads) to a lukewarm reception. Similar beverages such as Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade followed, the latter from Mark Anthony Brands, the same company that manufactures White Claw. Mike’s Hard Lemonade originally attempted to appeal to women before taking an aggressive turn toward the less fair sex — with an almost laughably masculine advertising campaign. Still, to show up at a party with a six-pack of the stuff almost seemed eccentric.
Not the case today with White Claw. ‘If you’re showing up to a party with a 30-rack of Budweiser, do you think you’re going to share it with a woman? But if you show up with 30 Claws, the women will be all over you,’ a Trump bro confesses.
The enemies of manhood — liberal male bloggers — have yet to discover what they would call White Claw’s fascism problem as they cling to their microbrew beers, drunkenly groping their way through feminist covens. As soon as they do, however, you can set your clock to the harassment campaign demanding White Claw denounce its most loyal customers.
And sadly, they usually do.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s January 2021 US edition.