A plan to introduce powdered alcohol into U.S. markets might be going up in smoke.
A plan to introduce powdered alcohol into U.S. markets might be going up in smoke. (pcruciatti/ThinkStock)

Trouble Brewing for Powdered Alcohol

Palcohol approved, unapproved within two weeks

A plan to introduce powdered alcohol into U.S. markets might be going up in smoke.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

Where alcohol goes, poor decision-making has long been known to follow. A whiplash approval and reversal of a new product’s legality only underscores that idea.

After four years of waiting, a powdered alcohol additive known as Palcohol was given label approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on April 8. Not two weeks later, however, bureau representative Tom Hogue informed the Associated Press that the approval of seven Palcohol labels had been made in error.

Parent company Lipsmark quickly took to Palcohol’s official website to explain the mixed feelings: 

There seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag. There was a mutual agreement for us to surrender the labels. This doesn’t mean that Palcohol isn’t approved. It just means that these labels aren’t approved. We will resubmit labels. We don’t have an expected approval date as label approval can vary widely.

If Palcohol’s labels are reapproved, consumers will be able to create alcoholic beverages “on the go” by adding a packet (or 12) of one of Palcohol’s six flavors—including Mojito, Cosmopolitan, and Puerto Rican rum—to water.

Creator Matt Phillips says he got the idea to devise the more rebellious version of Crystal Light when he wanted to take alcoholic drinks along on trail rides or hikes but didn’t want to drag heavy bottles up mountains. Palcohol was expected to land on shelves this fall.

Adding to Palcohol’s drinking problems, news organizations picked up on some less savory language on the product’s website. The initial product page seems to suggest increased alcohol consumption and recognizes the ability to “get drunk almost instantly” by snorting Palcohol, “because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose.”

Palcohol has since distanced itself from the language, writing, “We were experimenting with some humorous and edgy verbiage about Palcohol. It was not meant to be our final presentation of Palcohol.”  

Some in the industry are surprised Palcohol was ever approved. A blogger for Lehrman Beverage Law noted the hurdles of state law, market competition, and general health concerns that should give Palcohol a hard time actually reaching stores.

“I am not astonished that this is a real product,” the blogger wrote, “but I am absolutely astonished that this got approved.”

Don’t let the hooplah dampen your spirits. In the meantime, stick to traditionally brewed alcohols or consider branching out.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
Filed to:
Lead Photo: pcruciatti/ThinkStock