The First of the MALTernatives
Beer is NOT suppose to be clear
You remember Zima…don’t you?
Here’s what I remember about Zima
It was the end of summer of 1994 when I first tried the alcoholic malt beer beverage known as Zima. It came out about a year earlier, but I had no desire to try it.
I know why too.
(I usually try new things at least once)
But the main reason I didn’t like Zima (without trying it) was because it was pretty much labeled a “girly-man” beer by every dude I came across. Whether they tried it or not (mostly NOT), I was told that it was considered a “woman’s beverage” – like a wine cooler.
Trust me – Zima was NO wine cooler.
I was 23-years-old when I bought my first six-pack of Zima…
curiosity got the best of me. But for the record, I also bought a case of Old Milwaukee.
That’s right, Old Milwaukee – The Best Beer in the World.
I can honestly say that I thought that Zima wasn’t bad. It was zomething different (get it?)…I’ll give it that. It sure didn’t taste what I expected. It sort of reminded me of a flat Sprite, but beer…?
It didn’t taste anything like beer at all.
The Story on Zima
In 1993, the Coors Brewing company came up with a different way to brew beer. It had something to do with “charcoal filtering”, in which doing so removed that golden hue and MOST of that “beer taste“. Rumors went around that Zima didn’t contain alcohol and that breath analyzers couldn’t detect it.
These rumors were false.
This also started the “clear craze”. Miller came out with “Qube“, Pabst Blue Ribbon’s “Izen Klar“, Stroh’s “Clash“, and even Pepsi came out with “Crystal Pepsi“. It even hit the deodorant department with a clear gel by Mennen.
Zima soon became popular among females, so that made it even more “untouchable” among those who considered themselves manly. Being male and seen holding a Zima wasn’t “macho“, in fact, it was reason enough to get ridiculed even by the closest of friends (even if it was under their breath and/or behind your back). Zima had no place in a “real man’s” fridge.
It became obvious that Zima was being considered a wine cooler, although it was not intended to be as such. In fact, Coors made sure that any business selling Zima was to keep it away from the other wine coolers.
Although Coors sold over one million barrels in its first year, after two years, they barely sold over 400,000 barrels. Being that females seem to be the only buyer of the clear malt beverage, it just wasn’t enough. It’s been reported that Coors spent anywhere from $35 million to $50 million in advertisements alone in its first year (more than their MAIN product, “Coors Light“) targeting young men.
Then came Smirnoff Ice.
“Smirnoff Ice” soon hit the shelves and it soon got the impression that it contained vodka (which it didn’t) and this was about the time that Coors decided to boost the alcohol content in Zima to 5.4% and give it a golden hue – calling it “Zima Gold“. It tasted like a flat Sprite (a bit sweeter) but with a bourbon hint of flavor. It was all they had to give “Smirnoff Ice” a challenge.
It didn’t work.
Now Miller had finally pulled their “Qube” off the shelves as well did Pabst’s and Stroh’s, but Coors still had some ideas brewing in their heads and gave Zima another chance. So in the year 2000, they totally changed their formula, making it taste more like Sprite (but not quite), and also came up with a new ad campaign. They made Zima seem like the ideal beverage for really, REALLY hot days. It bounced back briefly, but just shy of a quarter of million barrels. Coors Light sold over 16 million barrels that same year.
But wait…Zima had another idea.
They made a variety of flavors – pineapple being the favorite.
They boosted the alcohol content in another brand of Zima to 5.9% and called it “Zima XXX” in the year 2004.
This didn’t work either.
By this time Miller and Coors merged together forming the MillerCoors, LLC and on October 10, 2008, they announced the discontinuation of distributing Zima in the United States. Because of its expensive process to brew Zima, along with the tax hike in Utah and in California (and California being the top marketing state) it didn’t make sense to continue on with the product.
That’s right…discontinued distribution of Zima in the United States.
Zima can still be purchased in Japan.