For those of you residing in or near the County of Kings, please consider checking out our live appearance tonight. No, we won’t be boring you with yet another Now the Hell Will Start reading. Rather, we’ll be taking part in Adult Education, which proudly bills itself as “a useless lecture series.” Tonight’s topic is beer, and the organizers have been kind enough to invite Microkhan to wax rhapsodic on one of his most esoteric areas of expertise: the long, sordid history of Zima. We built that expertise while reporting out this 2008 Slate piece, a lengthy obituary for the Grandaddy of Clearmalt Beverages. A snippet to whet your appetite:
Zima debuted in the midst of the “clear craze” of the early 1990s, when products ranging from Crystal Pepsi to Mennen Crystal Clean deodorant sought to take advantage of a vogue for (literal) transparency. Coors, then the nation’s No. 3 beer-maker, hopped on the bandwagon by devising a simple process for making a clear brew—just filter your lowest-grade lager through charcoal (a process that strips away both color and taste), then make the liquid palatable by adding citrusy flavorings.
Miller, then one of Coors’ chief rivals, mastered this technique, too, creating Clear Beer, which failed miserably. Coors thought it knew why: the presence of the word beer on the label. Clear brews may have been beer-based, but they were bound to disappoint true hops aficionados—there was no foamy head, and the taste was sodalike rather than malty. So Coors decided to pitch its see-through drink at male consumers who didn’t love beer but fancied themselves too macho for Boone’s Farm. (Coors pointedly instructed stores to never place Zima alongside wine coolers, which male drinkers regard as effete.)
Curiousity piqued? Do you have subway access? If you answered “yes” to those questions, please consider swinging by Union Hall at 8 p.m. We’ll fill you in on lots more, as well as read impassioned pleas from Zima’s hardcore fans. Yes, they exist.