Thursday, November 3, 2011

Session #57: Beery Confession - Clear Beer

Welcome to The Session - a collaboration of bloggers writing on a common beer-related topic.  For the month of November, Steve Lamond, from Beers I've Known, chose "Beery Confessions: Guilty Secrets/Guilty Pleasure Beer" as the collective topic to explore.  A round-up of all the blog posts will be posted in the near future.  You can read more about Beer Blogging Friday ("The Session") over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Reading this topic immediately started my mind thinking about experiences in college.  I attended Allegheny College, in Meadville, PA, during four wonderful years in the mid 1990s.  Like many others, my college life was enhanced by alcohol and the camaraderie of friends at parties and bars.  But, my college days house a dark secret, especially given my current passion for homebrewing and beer blogging.  In college, I loved Zima!  That's right, Zima!

Many people do not know that Pennsylvania has an old law that requires distributors to sell beer by the case.  Residents cannot purchase beer or malt-based beverages by the six-pack or bomber unless they are bought from bars or special bottle stores, both of which charge a hefty mark-up.  Being a poor college student, that meant my friends and I usually stuck to bottom-shelf liquor or cheap beer like Keystone Ice ($8.00 a case at the time).  However, we soon discovered that a case of Zima could be purchased for close to the same price, and that a greater number of people preferred it.  More people sharing the cost means less cash outlay per person, which makes a college student quite happy.

Zima also offered excellent "mixing" opportunities.  You could mix it with a number of different juices for interesting results, such as orange juice that made a screwdriver "lite."  However, my all-time favorite way to drink Zima was with a Jolly Rancher chaser.  By sucking on the Jolly Rancher hard candy at the same time as drinking Zima, you effectively flavored each sip.  The possibilities were endless and I was particularly fond of using the grape and cinnamon flavors.  Given that Jolly Ranchers were relatively cheap, they extended Zima's flavor flexibility in a manner that really stretched the dollar, which also makes a college student quite happy.

So that is my deep dark Beery Confession.  I loved Zima in college.  I have not had one in quite a while, and I do not really feel the pull to do so now, even if I could.  But, at that time in place in my life, Zima was much more prevalent than the craft beer I enjoy today.




  1. Hey Tom, Love this confession. I wasn't aware of this drink before now and really want to try the Rancher food pairing you suggest :)

    It's also interesting to see that the Law has always been an ass. How is is better to make teenagers or 'young drinkers' buy in volume? and in doing so pricing them out of drinking a sensible beery drink and instead steering them towards cheaper and harder liqour! The government over here is still at it...see the new beer duty on 7.5%+ beer.

  2. Broadfordbrewer, Thanks for your comment. The topic was a fun excuse to journey down memory lane.

    I agree about the PA case law and never understood it. It struck me as encouraging binge drinking more any anything else. Ironically, we moved to South Carolina for grad school after Allegheny and they had a "mini-bottle" rule for hard alcohol. Thus, if you wanted to buy hard liquor at a bar, they used airplane bottles to make the drink (1.5 shots each). So, if you wanted a mixed drink with three or more liquors in it, to get the proportions right, it usually came in a pint glass. Insanity.

  3. Yeah, case law hurts. At least there are more bottle shops coming around (even though the prices are a bit steep). Someday this will change, I just hope to still be alive.


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