Zima Returns, Again

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

CHICAGO -- MillerCoors will bring back Zima again this summer for a season that's primed to be remembered for the variety of flavored beers, malt beverages and even spirits coming to store shelves.

Here's a look at Zima's return and eight other alcohol drinks hitting store shelves and coolers ...

1. Zima

Zima first debuted in 1994, the first-of-its-kind "malternative" that inspired countless other crystal-clear beverages, according to MillerCoors. By 2008, Zima was pulled from shelves only to resurface shortly last summer, leaving fans wondering if it would ever return again.

"Last summer, Zima was the ultimate comeback kid," said Dilini Fernando, senior marketing manager of innovation for MillerCoors, Chicago. "People were picking up a six-pack to relive their '90s memories, to stock up for theme parties, or to just see what all the fuss was about. So, when it was time to decide if we were going to bring it back, we thought 'why wouldn't we?' "

Again this year, Zima's return will be limited. And the brewer encourages fans to follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on its availability. Legal-aged drinkers are also encouraged to share how they are enjoying Zima using hashtag #Z2K.

"If you didn't get your hands on a six-pack last year, now is the time to see what all the hype is about and stock up," said Fernando.

2. Strongbow

This summer, Heineken USA's Strongbow Hard Ciders is bringing back by popular demand its Original Dry flavor. In more than 160,000 social-media mentions since it was discontinued, according to the company, "over 100,000 of our loyal consumers have been asking for the original flavor," a dry cider made with a mixture of bittersweet and culinary apples for a crisp, less sweet taste. Like all Strongbow products, Original Dry contains no artificial flavors or colors, and it has 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). It will be available nationally starting in June 2018 in 16.9-ounce single-serve cans and four-packs of 16.9-ounce cans.

Heineken USA is based in White Plains, N.Y.

3. Sniki-Tiki

North American Breweries, Rochester, N.Y., is launching an entirely new flavored-malt-beverage brand this summer. Sniki-Tiki will bring a 9.9% ABV flavor punch to convenience stores. The tiki-style brand aims to build on the momentum of growth in higher ABV ready-to-drink, premixed cocktails. At launch, Sniki-Tiki will come in 16-ounce single-serve cans in two flavors: Killer Punch and Scorpion. Killer Punch, a take on the painkiller cocktail, features sweet pineapple and coconut with a hint of nutmeg and rum. Scorpion is a zing of orange, pineapple and rum flavors. The drink will ship June 18.

4. Truly Spiked & Sparkling

Boston Beer Co.'s Truly Spiked & Sparkling line debuted a new style in March. Truly Wild Berry is a "clean spiked sparkling water with only 100 calories, 1 gram of sugar, 5% ABV and naturally gluten-free," according to the company. The drink is flavored with "a hint of natural juiciness and sweetness from California strawberries, raspberries and Marion blackberries." Truly Wild Berry is sold in six-packs—suggested price $7.99-$9.99—and featured in a new Berry Variety Pack with other flavors: Blueberry & Acai, Raspberry & Lime, and Pomegranate. Truly Berry Variety 12-Packs carry a suggest retail price (SRP) of $14.99-$16.99.

5. Tipsy Tomato

New to the industry, Ennoble Beverages, Reno, Nevada, released what it calls the world’s first all-natural, flavored malt-based ready-to-drink (RTD) bloody mary cocktail: Tipsy Tomato. With 5.5% alcohol by volume, the drink is a blend of California tomatoes, Sriracha sauce (crushed peppers with garlic and vinegar) and the natural flavors of celery, lime and lemon, with a dash of salt. An "extra spicy" version is also available. Both are sold in a 16-ounce can for a targeted retail price of $1.99 or as a four-pack of 16-ounce cans for $7.99.

6. Skyy Infusions

San Francisco-based Skyy Vodka will launch new Skyy Infusions Sun-Ripened Watermelon in time for Memorial Day weekend. A "refreshing, watermelon-infused vodka made with real fruit," Skyy's latest addition captures the brightness and complexity of Watermelon and is now available nationwide, the company said. The new flavor is 70 proof (35% ABV), is available in 50-mL ($1.99), 750-mL ($13.99), 1-liter ($16.99) and 1.75-liter ($21.99) bottles.

7. Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew

Coffee plus alcohol? It’s coming in Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew Coffee, a blend of alcohol, cold-brewed coffee, real dairy cream, agave nectar and natural flavors. The drink comes from entrepreneur Mark Scialdone and business partner, 21-year alcohol industry veteran and former Diageo Innovation executive, Ami-Lynn Bakshi.

The partners, based in La Jolla, Calif., brought the new product to market this spring. Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew Coffee is available in four flavors: Espresso Shot, Caffe Mocha, Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cinnamon. Wine-based with a 12.5% ABV, the products contain only natural flavors and are made with premium dark roast arabica cold-brewed coffee. It is available in singles or four-packs.

8. Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola North America has shown no signs of entering the alcohol-drink business, but Coca-Cola Co.’s Japan unit plans to introduce a fizzy alcohol drink in the country, in what the company described as the first alcohol product it has ever developed, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The "experimental" canned drink is in a product category known as chu-hai in Japan. The chu-hai drinks (some existing examples pictured above) are often made with a distilled grain-based alcohol called shochu and flavored carbonated water, according to the report. Flavors range from strawberry to ice tea and cream soda.

9. All-Free

Also from Japan, Suntory is launching a clear nonalcohol "beer" packaged in a plastic bottle that it hopes will be popular with office workers. According to Japan Today, the drink will hit store shelves in Japan on June 19. The product is an extension of the company’s existing product All-Free, a nonalcohol, zero-calorie beer sold in cans and glass bottles. With the launch of the new All-Free All-Time, Suntory has made the product appear more like a soft drink, making it more "office-friendly" by packaging it in clear plastic and rendering the liquid colorless, according to the report. In a promotional video, the drink is being enjoyed by office workers at their desks while it’s also marketed as an after-sport thirst quencher. The product claims to taste like beer. Suntory is planning to conduct sampling of the new drink in convenience stores nationwide in Japan.