Way before the Prius and the Civic Hybrid, the original hybrid was Pink Champale. We call it a hybrid because it looks a lot like Champagne (sort of) — but it’s really beer. In tiny print, the label says it is a Malt Beverage with Natural Flavors and Artificial Color. Champale has certainly stood the test of time; the above approval is from this year and Gono.com has an excellent collection of Champale ads going all the way back to 1960. The above ad is from about 1978, and the 1962 ad refers directly to Champagne. Smirnoff Ice is a much later example of the increasingly common trend toward hybrids (it has a malt beverage base but a hugely famous spirits brand name). The beer versus wine versus spirits categorization is a critically important part of TTB’s role, because of a dramatically different excise tax on each category. In many cases (such as beers loaded up with flavors) it is very difficult to assign the product to the most appropriate category.
Robert C. Lehrman is the principal attorney at Lehrman Beverage Law, PLLC. Robert founded the firm in 2001 after 12 years at the Washington, DC office of a larger firm that specializes in federal and state administrative law. From 1998 until 2001 ... Read Full Bio