Flavored Malt Beverages and California

Malt liquors (and other malt beverages) have a higher alcohol content than standard beer (usually 5.5% or higher for malt beverages versus 3.5% for beer). That’s a fact.

Recently, flavored malt beverages such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade have been introduced in California. They are currently classified (for tax and alcohol-regulation purposes) in the same category as beers. For California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, that’s a mistake (as this story in the Los Angeles Times documents). Lockyer believes they should be classified as “distilled spirits” so that underage women can’t drink them. This change would also increase the tax on the beverages. Lockyer has asked the Board of Equalization to change the categorization. Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced to block the change. To date, neither the Board nor the legislature has acted. The legislation deadline is Friday. We’ll keep you updated.

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