If the bill is vetoed, he said, the drinks will be taxed at $1.50 a gallon, the same rate as spirits, instead of the 9 cents a gallon of beer.Flavored malt beverages, or “alcopops” as opponents call them, are usually less than 5% alcohol, much like beer. Most liquor, like my favorite, Jack Daniels, is around 80 proof, or 40% alcohol. That means that the effective rate for booze is 3¢ an ounce of actual alcohol while a 3.5 beer is 2¢ per liquid ounce of alcohol. Sounds fair enough.
Since the Maryland Attorney General ruled that alcopops are distilled liquor, they should be taxed higher. The effective rate would then become 23¢ an ounce of actual alcohol. This amounts to a tax of about 14¢ a bottle for a sweet drink versus less than a penny for a beer.
That’s enough to get a hard lemonade drinker like me up into a Boston Twisted Tea Party level frenzy. It’s bad enough these drinks cost more than a six pack of beer for just four bottles, now the state wants to nick me for an extra dime on every bottle. I’m outraged.
Opponents of these drinks call them gateway drinks because no teenager has ever drunk a beer despite its bad taste. A rather alarmist editorial in the Washington Post ranted this way:
The drinks, known as "alcopops," "malternatives" and "flavored alcoholic beverages," are popular with young and underage drinkers. Dressed up to taste like lemonade, iced tea and various berry-flavored juices, they are designed to appeal to people who haven't yet developed a palate for booze itself. Wrapped in splashy, multicolored packaging and promoted by images of fresh-faced drinkers who in some instances look college-age, "alcopops" are a hit with entry-level drinkers, especially women (emphasis mine). They are, as Mr. O'Malley put it, "a gateway type of thing."
Now I’m being insulted. I’m a man (last time I checked) that has been drinking for the last 28 years of my life (don’t do the math, Dad) and have never really acquired the taste of beer. Sure, I’ll drink it if there isn’t anything else, but at picnics and other gatherings I like a nice sweet mild intoxicant.
They way to keep alcohol out of the hands of kids is not to make it harder, more annoying, and more expensive for legal adults to enjoy the drink of their preference. In the past twenty-five years, there has been a serious ratcheting down by what I call the No Fun Allowed Crowd. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have put into place serious restrictions that have arguably saved lives. On the other hand, I have an outraged teen-age son that has to register with Selective Service next month but can’t legally enjoy a refreshing fruity alcoholic malt beverage with his dad for three more years.
And that sucks. Like bitter, sour hard lemonade.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Are so called alcopops any different from beer?