We Tried Hard Mountain Dew and Kinda Wish We Didn’t
Spiked-up Mountain Dew sounds promising, but there's a problem.
Mountain Dew has a party pop image and is famously favored—at least in its commercials— by good-looking young people who hang out at swimming holes 24-7, yahooing their way off cliffs and splashing into sparkling clean rivers. These actors look like people who play hard and probably drink even harder. So you can’t blame parent company PepsiCo for deciding to work with the Boston Beer Company to release Hard Mountain Dew, an alcoholic version of the famous citrusy soda.
Hard Mountain Dew is a malt beverage, with 5% alcohol by volume. It was first released in 2022, and a new flavor, Livewire, just came out in March 2023. There are now five flavors, each mixing the familiar Mountain Dew taste with a fruity flavor and alcohol. They all have no caffeine, and unfortunately, no added sugar. We’ll get to that.
Hard Mountain Dew Just Dropped a New Flavor
The newest Hard Mountain Dew flavor, Livewire, is an orange citrus flavor. The other flavors are Baja Blast (a tropical lime Mountain Dew flavor that was originally created for Taco Bell), black cherry, watermelon and the original Mountain Dew citrus flavor.
Mountain Dew’s gotten wacky with the flavors before, even before the company decided to add alcohol. Dill Pickle Mountain Dew was released last summer, and Mountain Dew Fruit Quake hit store shelves during holiday time. And Pepsi has been playing with its other soda flavors, too, including the new Starry that replaced Sierra Mist.
So when Hard Mountain Dew announced Livewire, of course, I had to try all five flavors.
Here’s What I Thought
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper for Taste of Home
I’m not opposed to the whole alcopop genre of drinks—lightly alcoholic fruity drinks. But whoever designed Hard Mountain Dew made one gigantic mistake. They decided to offer it only in zero-sugar flavors. Every single one of the five boozy flavors is dominated by that overwhelmingly chemical artificial-sweetener taste… and aftertaste. Honestly, it’s pretty much all you can taste. There are better ways to get a buzz.
I found the original flavor Hard Mountain Dew to be the best. Like the soda, it looks like someone soaked a neon-yellow highlighter in water, but at least I could taste a little of the citrusy regular Dew taste before the artificial sweetener taste ran over my tongue with a steamroller. It was also the flavor where the malt liquor taste was the strongest.
The new flavor, Livewire, was my second favorite. It tastes like tangerines and smells like Orange Crush soda, but the artificial sweetener taste dominated once again.
Watermelon and black cherry kind of tasted like Jolly Ranchers. But—by now, you know the drill—they both had tooooo much artificial sweetener chemical taste.
I had high hopes for Baja Blast, but that pretty turquoise/teal drink smelled like medicine and tasted like an explosion in a chemical factory.
If there was nothing else to drink but Hard Mountain Dew in a post-apocalypse world, I’d pick the original flavor. And then I’d fight my way through the zombie hordes to find a lab where I could create a full-sugar version.
Where Can I Get Hard Mountain Dew?
Not everyone can get Hard Mountain Dew. Right now, it’s only available in Iowa, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois, plus the city of Las Vegas. The company promises more states will be coming, but right now, we don’t know what those states are, or when they’ll allow Hard Mountain Dew to be sold there. If you’re wondering why it isn’t available in your state, you can probably chalk that up to alcohol distribution laws—each state has different ones, and the company has to work on its permits accordingly.
If your state or city does have Hard Mountain Dew, you should be able to get it in 24-ounce single-serve cans, or in a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans featuring three cans apiece of the original four flavors.
I’m no liquor snob. Coming of age in the 1980s, I downed my share of cheap wine coolers back in the day. But I can’t really recommend Hard Mountain Dew as much more than a novelty one-time purchase. If you want to mix liquor and the taste of Mountain Dew, get yourself a can of the original (full-sugar) pop and spike it up with a decent liquor of your choice.
As for Hard Mountain Dew, I donated the rest of mine to the instructors at a ski school, after a friend who teaches there informed me “they’ll drink anything.” So if Mountain Dew needs a setting idea for its next commercial, I got ya.