January 2008

Monthly Archive

When Is A Beer Not A Beer?

Posted by on 05 Jan 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

PICT6707I’m sorry everyone.  I know I haven’t been here much lately.  I’ve been doing a lot of work on my novel.

You know, the novel about the Holy Beer.

But, during a recent ice storm, my love took this most excellent picture for me of something we were drinking, and since it is a "malt beverage" and the picture is just so darn beautiful, I had to write something about it.

Growing up, we called these "wine coolers."  The town I lived in at the time, Stockton California, was the home of the original bottled wine cooler, California Cooler.  A few of my friends even worked there.  I don’t remember if those were "malt beverages" or actually concocted out of wine — I suspect the latter, as the Central Valley is like Napa’s farm league area — but right on the tail of California Cooler’s success came a plethora of new brands, one of which was Bartles & James, who ended up buying out California Coolers and who — I suspect — were producing something more akin to flavored clear beer instead of a wine/fruit mix.

Now, however, when I want one of these alcohol infused soda pops, the brand I usually reach for is Smirnoff, such as the one pictured here.  It’s good for those of us with a sweet tooth when we’re not in the mood for a beer (I know, blasphemy) and, from what I’ve seen, this type of malt beverage has a much higher appeal to a broad demographic of females than actual beer.

I know this is a generalization but it’s something I’ve noticed.  Of course there are exceptions.  My girl next door enjoys a good beer as much as I do, but my love does not, and neither does my 21-year-old daughter.

My question is, though — and I’m asking this because I really don’t know — is a flavored malt beverage actually considered, technically, a beer, or not?