R.I.P., Zima 1993-2008

Per the Associated Press, dedicated drinkers of malternative beverages will soon be bereft of the flagship in the category: Zima is going bye-bye.

The joint venture between SABMiller's U.S. unit and Molson Coors Brewing Co. told distributors in a letter Monday that production of the malt liquor beverage was discontinued as of Oct. 10. Chief Marketing Officer Andy England says the decision was due to weakness in the "malternative" segment and declining consumer interest.

He says distributors can get remaining Zima inventories most likely through December. Distributors are being asked to put products from caffeinated alcoholic beverage Sparks on retail-store shelves to make up for Zima's absence.

Sparks? That stuff could never replace the mighty Z.

I was lucky enough to be living in Nashville, one of three test-markets for the “Clearmalt” nectar, so I was able to quaff this breakthrough in American brewing two years before the rest of you. And what an innovation it was – like beer without the pesky flavor or fizzy vodka with much less alcohol. Like the ads said, it was “Zomething different.”

Zomething Zilly, to be sure, but honestly, Zima did have its niche in the serious drinker’s repertoire. It wasn’t as heavy as beer, and it had a higher alcohol content, so it was a good way to kick-start a buzz, and it allegedly had fewer impurities than most types of booze, theoretically leaving less of a hangover. It also didn’t leave much of a tell-tale smell on your breath, so it was useful in those pesky church / work / school drinking scenarios. And most importantly, teenaged chicks loved it, or so I was told.

So farewell, Zima: You were too good for this Earth, how does the world go on turning, etc.

We’ll leave you with this, the world’s only Zima police blotter.

John Nova Lomax

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