What is a malt brew beverage like the fruit flavored drinks sold along side beer are they a flavored beer or diluted liquor product?
Flavored malt beverages, such as Mike's Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice,
Zima, Sparks, etc. are malt-based drinks. Although the malt is an
artificial sucrose-based malt, this gives them the ability to be
sold under the beer category, mainly for tax purposes, plus the
companies realized the faster growth potential for smaller
serving-size fruity drinks in a beer setting, as opposed to the
wine cooler craze of the 80s. Wine coolers, though, are wine-based
drinks. They are essentially fortified wine with CO2 and other
fruit flavors added. Because of the grape-base for these drinks,
they are taxed as wine. There are also RTD (ready-to-drink)
cocktails such as Jack Daniels coolers and Kahlua cocktails, etc.
These are pre-mixed, liquor-based drinks that are sold under the
same tax category as hard spirits. (source: more than a decade
working in the alcohol industry...)