The year was 1993. I remember it fondly. The Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication was playing constantly on the stereo of my ’76 Cadillac, I had killer sideburns and Coors had just launched Zima, that clear malt beverage that tasted like a boozy Sprite. Zima was marketed as an alternative to beer, which was right up my alley since, at the tender age of “I’m not telling,” I hadn’t developed an appreciation for beer yet. I liked the cause and effect of beer (me doing something stupid at a house party and ultimately throwing up in someone’s car) but not the taste of beer. So I went looking for alternatives and found Zima, which I decided was way worse than even the nastiest of beers, and promptly went back to my Busch Light.
Luckily, the alcohol industry is always looking for a way to accommodate those would-be drinkers who simply don’t dig beer. Sometimes called “alcopop,” these alternative beverages typically enjoy “flash in the pan” status, making a splash, then fading away. Some options have staying power (I don’t think this hard cider trend is going to leave us anytime soon) while others disappear almost entirely. Zima, for instance, was discontinued in the states several years ago. I hear you can still get it in Japan, though.
We’ve compiled a gallery for 10 Alternatives to Beer. Some of these are palatable, while others are outlandish (we’re looking at you Miller Sparks).
1 of 10
Jeremiah Weed: A bourbon-based beverage in the can. Youâ€™ve got sweet tea, lemonade, or cola options.
2 of 10
Zima: Maybe it was good if you dropped a Jolly Rancher in it. Or maybe not.
3 of 10
Bartles and Jaymes: The original beer alternativeâ€"I challenge you to find one mom in the â€˜80s who wasnâ€™t a fan of Bartles and Jaymes.
4 of 10
Bud Light Lime a Rita: Now in strawberry flavors! I have one family member who absolutely loves these. Everyone else I know has better sense.
5 of 10
Mikeâ€™s Hard Lemonade: I like lemonade. I like alcohol. This should be a win/win, but I havenâ€™t felt the need to try it yet. Because, you know, I like beer.
6 of 10
Jack Danielâ€™s Hard Cola: This one actually makes sense. Itâ€™s a whiskey-based soft drink, which wouldâ€™ve saved me a lot of time in college. But it was only 5%, so I probably wouldâ€™ve stuck with the Jack nâ€™ Coke anyway.
7 of 10
Miller Sparks: These pack a punch at 8%, and they come in flavors like â€œBlackberry Ultraviolet.â€
8 of 10
Bacardi Breezer: Apparently, these are still huge in Canada. They clock in at 5%ABV, and now have new flavors like coconut and pineapple. Apparently, theyâ€™re â€œnow less sweetâ€ too.
9 of 10
Smirnoff Ice: So many flavors! Three Smirnoff Ice bottles lived in the back of my fridge for two years in college. Because no one would drink them.
10 of 10
Smith and Forge Hard Cider: The latest entry in the beer alternative category (and also from MillerCoors), Smith and Forge joins the robust hard cider category. Made from apples, 6%ABV.