Ranch Water Seltzer Wars: Dos Equis vs Karbach Brewing vs Lone River

Lone River Ranch Water

Lone River Beverage Company

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Lone River Ranch Water
Lone River Beverage Company

Back at the Ranch

Ranch Water, a classic mix of tequila, lime, and soda water, has long been a Texas tradition. The beverage has also, unsurprisingly, made its way into the hard seltzer market, and been given a twist using agave and natural flavors. You can now find Ranch Water hard seltzers available in a slew of flavors and from different brands, but which ones are worth your time and hard-earned money? I tried three different brands to find out.

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: Here's How Kirkland Hard Seltzer Stacks Up Against White Claw

ranch water cocktail with topo chico
ranch water cocktail with topo chico by The Marmot (CC BY)

The History of Ranch Water

The legend of Ranch Water stretches back to the '60s, beloved in Texas and without a clear inventor. Popular rumors point its origins to a rancher from Fort Davis, who allegedly followed the West Texas stars from Fort Davis to Marathon on foot and fell asleep under a piñon tree. Today, the cocktail is most commonly made with tequila, Topo Chico, a little lime, and some ice. Topo Chico offers its own hard seltzer version, too, but Topo Chico Ranch Water isn't available anywhere near me. Bummer.

Related: I Tried 8 Vizzy Hard Seltzer Flavors, and This Is the Best

lone river ranch water variety pack
Lone River Beverage Company

Lone River Ranch Water

$19 for a 12-pack from Instacart

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Flavors: Original, Spicy, Rio Red Grapefruit, Prickly Pear

ABV: 4%

I guess it’s always a surprise to me when a flavored beverage variety pack shows up in understated flavors. Lone River’s Ranch Water is really good. There is a little bit of expected thickness from the agave, but other than that, the flavor is nice and mild. Original and Rio Red grapefruit are my favorite flavors, though prickly pear has grown on me with every sip. Spicy isn’t undrinkable either, only providing a slight sting on your nostrils from the jalapeño. Each one sits nicely at 80 calories, providing a lighter option than beers and other hard seltzers.

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Dos Equis Ranch Water Seltzer
Dos Equis

Dos Equis Ranch Water

$18 for a 12-pack from Target

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Flavors: Classic Lime, Mango, Blood Orange, Spicy Grapefruit

ABV: 4.5%

I was excited to try the Dos Equis Ranch Water hard seltzers, seeing as Dos Equis made a series of commercials about my life and all. When I tasted the original lime flavor, I pretty much couldn’t stop shouting, “What is that?” There’s a dastardly flavor going on here that I cannot explain with human words. It’s slightly present in the spicy grapefruit — which isn’t remotely spicy — and if it’s present in the mango flavor, I couldn’t tell because I was too busy gagging. Blood orange is the saving grace, though that mysterious dark flavor poison is still hanging around. Spoiler alert: Dos Equis will not be winning the competition today.

karbach brewing ranch water
Karbach Brewing

Karbach Brewing Ranch Water

$17 for a 12-pack from Instacart

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Flavors: Original Lime, Prickly Pear, Meyer Lemon, Watermelon

ABV: 4.5%

Full of lemon-lime seltzer vibes and surprisingly subtle, Karbach’s original lime Ranch Water is a beautiful happy medium between tequila and hard seltzers. The original is better than the Meyer lemon, which is slightly bitter and does not contain any actual Meyer lemon, but it fails to defeat prickly pear, which is the winner of the pack. Watermelon is there too, kind of standing in the background cheering everybody else on, but it’s forgettable due to the lack of any discernible flavor. That prickly pear flavor is something special; fruity, but measured.

lone river ranch water
Wilder Shaw / Cheapism

The Verdict

This was honestly a tough one. Between Lone River and Karbach, I had to really think about this. Lone River’s four flavors are all quite solid. Spicy is my least favorite, but I’d have no problem putting a few cans away. Yet, most of Lone River’s flavors are not as good as Karbach’s prickly pear. But, Karbach’s worst flavor (Meyer lemon) is a lot tougher to drink than Lone River’s spicy. It’s incredibly close, but I have to go with my gut. And my gut tells me that Lone River makes a superior Ranch Water hard seltzer. I knew it from the minute I tasted the brand's original flavor, and I know it now.