Alcohol

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others. Or Is It?

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Rhonda Kallman, a Boston Beer Company co-founder who went on to start her own business, New Century Brewing, complains that her brain-child, a caffeinated light lager known as Moonshot, was included on the FDA's recently published list of "adulterated" alcoholic beverages, along with Four Loko and two of its close competitors, Joose and Core. According to The New York Times, Kallman "said her beer, which has an alcohol content of 5 percent, is being unfairly lumped in with high-alcohol, high-caffeine malt energy drinks that bear no resemblance to Moonshot or other beer."

Well, Moonshot bears a little resemblance to Four Loko, since it is a malt beverage containing caffeine. It has about as much caffeine per ounce as Four Loko (more than soda, less than Red Bull or coffee), although its alcohol content is substantially lower (5 percent vs. 12 percent). The Times reports that the FDA says it picked these four companies "because caffeine was put directly in the beverages as a food additive and was not naturally occurring, as it would be in a beer brewed with coffee" (or with yerba maté). That does not explain why the FDA sent no warning letters to producers of caffeinated distilled spirits such as PINK vodka, which was on the agency's list of possibly adulterated beverages a year ago. Perhaps the FDA reasons that such products are not aimed at the "young adults" it fears cannot handle the combination of alcohol and caffeine. In its warning letter to New Century Brewing, the FDA complains that "the marketing of the caffeinated versions of this class of alcoholic beverage appears to be specifically directed to young adults."

Is Moonshot? Explaining how she came up with the idea for the beer, Kallman says, "I was looking at what consumers were drinking, and clearly it was caffeinated—look at Red Bull and Starbucks and even Mountain Dew." The market for at least two of those brands skews pretty young. Then again, Moonshot is not sweet, fruity, artificially colored, or packed in tall, neon-hued cans. Its taste and retro look don't seem to be aimed at college-age binge drinkers, which presumably is the demographic the FDA has in mind when it refers to "vulnerable…young adults." Nor does Moonshot appeal to beer connoisseurs, judging from the reviews at Beer Advocate's website. As beer writer J.R. Brooks, a critic of the FDA's ban, explains to the Times, "Her Moonshot product has taken a lot of shots not just this time, but from some craft beer lovers who don't like Moonshot for the same reason, because the caffeine is added. They sort of see it as a stunt beer or novelty beer."

So who exactly is drinking Moonshot? Are they so young that the FDA deems them vulnerable? And what are we to make of the beer's name, not to mention the animation that used to appear on New Century Brewing's website, showing a rocket blasting off? Are they winks at the '60s or an allusion to the product's psychoactive effects? The former explanation seems more plausible, but who knows? Such are the puzzles posed by a policy of declaring a product "adulterated" based on its marketing—i.e., based on what its manufacturer says—as opposed to its contents.

I discussed the moral panic behind the Four Loko ban in a column last week.

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    1. ^ Dweeb? ^

      1. I was going to say “choad-guzzling ass-wrangler.”

        1. You win. Choad-guzzling ass-wrangler it is.

          1. “Choad-guzzling ass-wrangler.”
            I’m stealing that.

  1. Kallman says, “I was looking at what consumers were drinking, and clearly it was caffeinated?look at Red Bull and Starbucks and even Mountain Dew.”

    There’s your problem. Never trust the consumer! What do they know? Trust the FDA bureaucrats. The kids these days may want caffinated beer, but they need an organic wheat-grass anti-oxidant that somehow discourages second-hand smoke.

    1. but they need an organic wheat-grass anti-oxidant that somehow discourages second-hand smoke, prevents obesity, and endows them with superior math and science skills.

      Ftfy

  2. Kallman says, “I was looking at what consumers were drinking, and clearly it was caffeinated?look at Red Bull and Starbucks and even Mountain Dew.”

    There’s your problem. Never trust the consumer! What do they know? Trust the FDA bureaucrats. The kids these days may want caffinated beer, but they need an organic wheat-grass anti-oxidant that somehow discourages second-hand smoke.

  3. Are they so young that the FDA deems them vulnerable?

    Oh, most definitely. We’re all helpless little children out here and need the wise and steady bureaucrats at the FDA to tell us what to eat and drink.

    1. according to Congress we’re all children until we turn 26.

  4. If I thought for a second that my fellow Merkins would eventually be up in arms over an out of control Federal gummint, once they have banned one [insert product here] too many, I would say keep it coming FDA! Run your little, coal-black, prohibitionist hearts up as long as they can take it!

    But, my fellow Merkins have demonstrated that they have the fortitude of warm, oven-baked Brie and will gladly accept the latest restriction of the their freedom, as long as it’s wrapped up in a tasty, candy shell of good intentions, and contemptuously sneer at anyone with the temerity to suggest otherwise.

    So, fuck you FDA. And FEC and FTC and DHS and all the other alphabet soups of meddling agencies. May you all live interesting lives while dying in a fire.

    1. the bureaucracy as an all engulfing life form?

  5. Some more prohibitionist oppression that has flown beneath the radar but effects me quite directly, as I do buy Everclear.

    http://www.news-record.com/con…..in_alcohol

    Pure grain is the best mixer of all. The best bang for your buck. Now I have to go through a load of bullshit or drive into Virginia to obtain it. Nutz!

    From a former special ed student and current public employee:

    The pure grain alcohol is “probably the most dangerous product we sell,” said Mecklenburg ABC chief executive Paul Stroup, adding it had “no redeeming social value.

    Can there possibly be a better representation of the anthropomorphic fallacy than the idea of ‘social redemption’? If that was the criteria for what you should be allowed to sell based on how you define it here, what product would be left on your counter space, you fookin’ moron?

    1. no redeeming social value

      WTF? You try cleaning a bong or a pipe with just vodka, dumbass.

      1. You should be using denatured alcohol, so you won’t ever be tempted to drink it. And will die if you do, deservedly so, you boozeswilling childmurdering monoclewearing rapists.

        (Too temperent?)

        1. No, no, not at all. You can never have too much flattery. Sorry I didn’t catch your post earlier.

      2. Ever try acetone? Fucking amazing.

        But there are plenty of times when a good solvent that is not poison is useful (and perhaps even socailly redeeming).

  6. Barack Obama, in a memo

    “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security.

    A quote that keeps on giving.

  7. So if your drink contains alcohol, caffeine is an adulterant, but if it doesn’t adding caffeine is o.k.? But it’s also o.k. to mix caffeinated beverages with non-caffeinated alcohol at the point of consumption. That makes no sense. Wait, it’s the gubmint, it makes perfect sense.

  8. Does no one else recall Jolt from the Drew Carey Show?…her brain child? my hairy red arse

    1. Jolt was a cola from well before Drew Carey. His beer was called Buzz Beer.

      [insert rant with lots of fucks and blasphemies here]

    2. Wasn’t it Buzz Beer?

  9. Typical idiot response from this Moonshot chick, not “banning caffeinated alcohol products is retarded” but “MY product should be exempt from the ban.” Fuck her and her shitty beer.

    1. Oops… I jumped the gun there. It was Brooks who said her product is nothing like Four Loko, not Kallman. Fuck me and my shitty reading skills.

      1. I should mail you a bottle of Hop Assault when I remake it this winter just to make your head explode.

        1. Where do I sign up?

        2. Your newsletter. The one that includes the signup sheet for your beer of the month club. thxbai.

          1. fuck that, I didnt see you at the reason meetup at The Bank Street Brewhouse.

            CMS mocked (via facial expression) my west-coast overhopped dopplebock. Clearly, flattery gets you nowhere.

            1. That would involve leaving my house. Hence the desire for beer-greatness that can be delivered to my door.

        3. Can I get one too if I insult you?

  10. Since Caffeinated alcohol treats like Moonshot are verboten, I’m going into the market for alcohol-and-depressants cocktails.

    Submission: it’ll get you laid back.

    The feds shouldn’t have a problem with that.

    1. Opium poppy sap in beer would be safe, right?

      1. In the 19th century, many pubs in the Fenlands of Britain sold beer with drops of opium in them. Often to the surprise of newcomers to the area.

    2. it’ll get you laid…back.

      Ftfy.

      1. (“back” could also be in a smaller font, if you like.)

  11. In its warning letter to New Century Brewing, the FDA complains that “the marketing of the caffeinated versions of this class of alcoholic beverage appears to be specifically directed to young adults.”

    Nanny statism – it’s not just for the children anymore!

    1. Indeed. Soon enough there will be concerns over products marketed to adults under 40, under 50, etc. Cradle to grave baby!

      1. That ultra-porn is still available to people under 150yrs-old is an absolute tragedy.

    2. According to Congress we’re now children until we turn 26.

  12. the FDA says it picked these four companies “because caffeine was put directly in the beverages as a food additive and was not naturally occurring, as it would be in a beer brewed with coffee”

    WTF difference does it make if caffeine is added before or after the bottle is opened? (Why are mixed drinks OK, but premixed drinks verboten?)

    WTF difference does it make if caffeine is extracted before the brewing process, or during the brewing process?

    WTF is wrong with people in this country that the FDA is receiving applause for this, rather than ridicule?

    1. It’s for teh child-like adults!!!

      1. Except pre-mixed drinks would be marginally safer than an untrained bartender mixing too much of one or another ingedient.

        (VERY marginal. The difference is smaller than the Atomic Scanning Violin i play for dumbasses who “died from fourloko.”)

      2. I’m just a naive homebrewing, aerospace engineering master’s student. Do you really think I can handle prepared, added caffeine with my malt beverages?

    2. The difference is in regulatory categories. Legislators desired to have certain regulations for food additives, and other regulations for foods. The mixing of drinks is under local regulation, the selling of packaged goods under another, and the latter are covered by the FFDCA if the goods are in interstate commerce.

      If you think the results are arbitrary, go ahead and try to write regulatory legislation that doesn’t have these arbitrary “cliffs”.

  13. please save us from ourselves ivy leaguers.

    1. As an Ivy Leaguer, I would love to.

      Unfortunately, I’m also a young adult, so I’m too busy smashing cans of Four Loko on my forehead and then trying to jump over gorges.

  14. How much are people really paying attention to this at all? The vast majority have probably never even heard of Four Loko or the banning of beverages containing alcohol and caffeine.

    1. Actually, in conversation with non-informed/non-politcal friends, 4Loko has seeped into their consciousness.

      1. Do these friends have kids?

        1. None over the age of 11.

          1. Never too early to start being overly-concerned.

          2. That may be it. Certainly my generally apolitical but intoxicant-savvy 19 year old daughter knows all about this story, and a thing or two about FourLoko as well; apparently it tastes like “Jolly Ranchers and ass.”

            1. Xenia, how can you talk to your daughter since fourloko brutally slayed her? Seance? Ouiji?

              1. Actually, she was lamenting the fact that it wasn’t as lethal as advertised. Apparently the people she knows who drink the stuff regularly tend to harsh her mellow. I don’t think that has much to do with caffeine, though; it’s more a generic asshats-and-cheap-booze thing.

            2. Did you ask her how she knows what ass tastes like? Or is that one of those parent/child boundaries you just dont want to cross?

              1. Olfactory is Olfactory, and I think EVERYONE has smelled some ass-stank at one point or another, so extrapolating the flavor is close enough.

  15. So what exactly is the scientific basis for treating similar doses of “naturally occurring” and “added” caffeine differently? I think the Progressive Priesthood is showing it’s faith-based roots too obviously there.

  16. “Perhaps the FDA reasons that such products are not aimed at the “young adults” it fears cannot handle the combination of alcohol and caffeine.”

    When you have to draw conclusions about policy like this, the policy is lazy and hints at protectionism.

  17. This chick plays a big part in the documentary Beer Wars, about the craft brewers trying to establish themselves among the brewing giants. It’s not a bad flick, and worth a gander on Netflix, if you’re bored.

    1. *as this thread dies because everyone went to go watch a beer documentary.*

  18. Its taste and retro look don’t seem to be aimed at college-age binge drinkers, which presumably is the demographic the FDA has in mind when it refers to “vulnerable…young adults.”

    Nah, the big ol’ 69 on the bottle with the phallic rocket wouldn’t be an enticement. The young-uns today wouldn’t know when the moon landing was, so they wouldn’t get it.

    Still a stoopid idea to ban this stuff.

    1. The young-uns today wouldn’t know when the moon landing was, so they wouldn’t get it.

      This is the perfect storm of evil booze marketing for me*. Resistance is futile. I’m going to go down a couple 12 packs of Moonshot and try to rocket myself across the lake.

      *See my previous post about my major.

      1. See, I told you! All that Four Loko and caffeine infused beer has removed any socially redeeming value in you. I bet you play the violent video games and listen to the hippity hop, too.

        I’ve already dialed 9-1. Don’t give me an excuse to press the other 1.

  19. Lets not forget that there is a similar hypocrisy going on with the use of poppy seeds in alcoholic beverages. Caffeine and poppy seeds are perfectly legal to consume and so there is no reason they should be allowing some brands of alcohol containing caffeine or poppy seed and on the other hand banning others. I am really looking forward to brewing an alcoholic version of the Black Drink. It was a tea used in the past by some tribes of Native Americans, it contains leaves from a holly plant that is one of the highest caffeinated plants in the world, Ilex vomitoria.

    1. vomitoria

      I’m not sure whether to go look up that species on wikipedia or not.

      1. 20mins later when my English is working better:

        I’m not sure whether or not to go look up that species on wikipedia.

        (And apparently it IS real, and got the name from the natives puking during the ceremonies that included it. Gotta love botanists.)

    2. Sounds awful.

    3. I wonder if that natural plant will suddenly become a popular ingredient in commercial brews.

  20. This is just the same progressives that want to ban alchohal just like they did in the early 20th century. Think about it for a minute. Why target a highly caffeinated BEER drink and not a highly caffeinated SODA drink?

    1. Because they’re going after the high fructose corn syrup in soda that causes obesity.

  21. To add that killer kick to your alcoholic beverage of choice try Hijinks. A flavorless energy mixer containing 200mg of caffeine per ounce. It probably won’t be around for long after the college kids discover it so get it while you can.

    http://www.hijinksenergy.com/Home_Page.html

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