Monday, November 30, 2020

Vista Bay Advent Calendar 2020 Review

I hadn’t planned on buying this advent calendar and in fact, when I woke up early and went to Aldi the day they were released, I totally skipped over it. I'll save my recount of adventures in buying advent calendars at Aldi for when I do my beer calendar review but I felt totally fine skipping over this. Fast forward 3 weeks to shopping for Thanksgiving; I have a cart filled with cream and butter and there it was. A large display of pale blue boxes calling out to me. I couldn’t resist it any longer, I figured worst case, it was a slightly more expensive 24 pack of White Claws.

Based on the chaos that was advent calendar release day, I was surprised to even find these still in the store. But the longer I thought about it, it felt totally reasonable. It’s winter. Who wants a summer drink in the dead of winter? Bud Lights seltzer made special holiday flavors to keep people interested during the winter months. But also who is the market for this? I view the hard seltzer crowd as young people trying to get fucked up or the health conscious you normally see in a Mic Ultra ad. I assume the Venn diagram for advent calendar shoppers and hard seltzer enthusiasts is two separate circles.

Shortly after purchasing these, I was hit with a 1-2 punch of buyer’s remorse. I totally forgot that I had tried 3 of their normal flavors and they all fell flat. They all had a cheap alcohol or medicinal aftertaste to them. Then when I was looking at the box at home, I realized that each can was 74 calories. That's odd, most of these are normally 100 calories. It was then that I realized these are 8.5 ounce cans. A full 3.5 ounce short of a normal can. Trying to put a positive spin on it, if you're self-conscious about your small hands, maybe this would make them look bigger? Because of these disappointments I said fuck it and just opened the calendar over Thanksgiving. 2020 is the debut year of the hard seltzer advent calendar and I needed to be part of its legacy.

There are 12 flavors and each appears twice in the calendar. Only 3 out of the 12 are available at Aldi year round: black cherry, ruby grapefruit, and coconut mango. The verdict? It’s fine. All of the seltzers were lacking flavor. I know the jokes about seltzers; they saw a Skittle once and that’s what they taste like, but these suckers are bland. With the $35 price tag1 you are better off getting 24 hard seltzers from another brand and just randomly grabbing one from the fridge each day. But if you are the type of person that buys a Vista Bay Christmas ornament (as seen below), 100% buy this. Full review of each flavor below.


Imagine if peach rings were in a hard seltzer. I was left wanting more peach. Totally fine though. Would drink at a pool.

Passion fruit

Full disclosure, we purchase Aldi’s 0% alcohol passion fruit seltzer all the time. This tastes almost identical to that, but watered down. There is a borderline grape soda thing going on. Tropical and refreshing, would drink at the pool.

Raspberry Lime

Without a doubt, my favorite. You get a candy like raspberry note cut by enough artificial lime to balance it out. Would definitely drink at the pool.

Blood Orange

This is not great. I don’t know what it is about the orange flavoring but this tastes like plastic bottle, bottom shelf vodka. Would not drink at the pool.


Honestly, this tastes like blueberry Pop-Tarts. I am still very unsure how I feel about it. Would possibly drink at the pool.

Green Apple

This tastes exactly like you’d expect. Not into it. Not for the pool.

Tangy Lemon

Really just a hint of lemon extract. This one could have really benefitted from additional flavoring. I would still drink it at the pool.

Mandarin Lime

Honestly, if you told me this was a plain hard seltzer I would believe it. No mandarin at all. Hint of lime? Maybe someone was zesting a lime the night before in the room adjacent to yours. It’s barely there. The alcohol portion is surprisingly solid, doesn’t taste like medicine. Would drink at a pool.

Ruby Grapefruit

The flavor is not terribly strong but tastes like a watered down grapefruit non-alcoholic seltzer. Would drink at a pool.

Mango Coconut

The aroma is all sweet mango purée. Taste follows with upfront mango and a bit of that coconut Malibu on the back. No weird lingering alcohol. Would drink at a pool.

Black Cherry

Cherry always runs that risk of being like cough medicine. This one is surprisingly refreshing. Would drink at a pool.


This is strawberry candy that reminds me of Now and Laters. The smell is strong but the taste is a bit subdued. Would drink at a pool.

Obgligatory Power Ranking

  1. Raspberry Lime
  2. Black Cherry
  3. Peach
  4. Mango Coconut
  5. Passion Fruit
  6. Ruby Grapefruit
  7. Strawberry
  8. Blueberry
  9. Mandarin Lime
  10. Tangy lemon
  11. Green Apple
  12. Blood Orange

  1. Our store actually put these on clearance for $25. I personally feel like this is a fairer price but still a bad value.