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For those who regularly enjoy libations and brews, hearing someone ask if Smirnoff is a beer might make you shake your head. How could Smirnoff be anything but vodka? As it turns out, there is one ready to drink product from Smirnoff that contains zero vodka but a whole lot of malt. In other words, Smirnoff has produced a beer—of sorts.
Is Smirnoff a beer? It depends on what product we’re talking about. So to stamp out any confusion, here is everything you need to know.
Is Smirnoff a Beer?
Straight out of the gate, you might say no. After all, Smirnoff is one of the most popular and successful vodka brands in the world. You have the traditional Smirnoff No 21 Vodka, Smirnoff 90, and Smirnoff 100, as well as Zero Sugar Infusions from Smirnoff, Smirnoff Pink Lemonade vodka (and Smirnoff Pink Lemonade Ice), and an American favorite, Red, White, and Berry Smirnoff.
All of these contain vodka, despite coming in a myriad of flavors and infusions. You know they are vodka just by looking at the labeling on the bottle.
So, no, these things aren’t beers. Neither is Smirnoff Sourced. What could count as a beer, though? Smirnoff Seltzer, Smirnoff Ice, and Smirnoff Ice Smashed.
Smirnoff Ice vs Beer
What type of alcohol is Smirnoff, you ask? Mostly vodka, but there are a few drinks the brand has released that contain no vodka at all. The main culprit? Smirnoff Ice. Back in 1999, Smirnoff released malt beverages called Smirnoff Ice, which quickly became a staple at college parties and casual hangouts.
Smirnoff Ice contains malt but no vodka (for those sold in the US). The exact ingredients in Smirnoff Ice have never been released to the public, nor has the brewing process, but it is safe to say that Smirnoff Ice is a beer. Most beverages that contain malt—known as malt beverages—and have over 0.5% ABV are considered alcoholic beers in the US.
It should be noted that, in some parts of the world, Smirnoff Ice can’t be considered a beer because of vodka content. In Brazil, South Africa, Canada, England, and Ireland, Smirnoff Ice contains vodka and malt. So, in those places, it’s more of a mixed drink or cocktail.
In fact, there is also a mixed drink called the Smirnoff Ice that contains no malt. Check out the recipe.
Ice, Ice Baby
Next time someone asks “is Smirnoff a beer?”, you shouldn’t laugh. It’s a serious question. Smirnoff Ice is considered a beer, because it’s a malt beverage and has as much alcohol as a domestic beer. But if that hurts your soul, call it a beer alternative. That said, most of Smirnoff’s products are vodka-based and will continue to be so.
It depends on what kind of Smirnoff we’re talking about. If you are comparing Smirnoff vodka with beer, then the vodka is always going to be stronger. The alcohol by volume (ABV) of Smirnoff vodka is 35-50%, depending on the type. Common beer brands hover around 4.5-6.0% ABV.
Smirnoff Mule is labeled as a Vodka Mule. It is a mix of Smirnoff original vodka, ginger beer, and lime flavored water. Since ginger beer is not actually beer but more of a soda, this is a drink that is predominantly vodka. Treat your Smirnoff Mule as you would a Moscow Mule—but in a bottle.
Smirnoff Ice is a malt beverage, meaning that it is more similar to a beer than it is to regular Smirnoff vodka. In fact, Smirnoff Ice contains no vodka at all. The alcohol by volume (4.5%) is also more similar to a domestic beer like Budweiser or Coors than a vodka-based beverage.
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