MillerCoors has announced that they will "voluntarily" reformulate Sparks, their citrusy 'energy' beer...and take out the caffeine, ginseng, taurine, and guarana. A guy's gotta ask: if you do, what's the point? The stuff's packaged in a big orange can that looks like a battery, you called it Sparks. If it's not an energy/stimulo beer...it's just a fruit beer, and a lousy one at that. Crap.
I don't care for Sparks, never have, but I despise the thought of MillerCoors knuckling under to these slanderous hand-wringers. All that stuff is legal, this is just Red Bull/Rock Star/Monster with a little alcohol, which is also legal. There is nothing less legal about putting them together: bars do it all the time (I talked to a whiskey brand guy, who said part of his job was going out to bars to make sure that Red Bull and vodka isn't really the only cocktail nightclubs make any more...I think he was kidding).
But the New Drys leaned on a collection of state attorney generals (sic, as in yeah, I meant to pluralize it that way) to get them all fired up about how caffeinated booze was dangerous to children!!! And the AGs, rolled by planted newspaper stories (does anyone in the newspaper biz take the time to think about press releases anymore?), started pounding on the podium to get these dangerous drinks taken off the shelf.
"Attorneys general [sic...] from around the country are gravely concerned about pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks because these products are dangerous and look and taste like popular non-alcoholic energy drinks," Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe said in a prepared statement. "They're popular with young people who wrongly believe that the caffeine will counteract the intoxicating effects of the alcohol.""Gravely concerned." Why don't they get "gravely concerned" about schmucks like Bernard Madoff, or sleazy jackoffs like Rod Blagojevich? Instead, the AGs are wasting their time issuing threats about fruity beer-based energy drinks, because of fears based on loose research and casual speculation from fanatical anti-alcohol groups. Why, they're gravely concerned about it!
But MillerCoors... Their statement rightly pointed out that there was no evidence or even indication that Sparks had been marketed to underage drinkers, and called the AGs allegations of such marketing "inaccurate." And then they turn around and pull the "energy" component out of their "energy beer", and agree to pay the AGs $550,000 in legal costs! WTF!
I don't drink energy drinks. I'm a man, I drink coffee. And when I want to catch a buzz with my buzz, I put liquor in my coffee. I don't think it's going to keep me from getting drunk, I think it's warm, I think it smells great. It also does balance out the sleepy-time effect of the alcohol to an extent: no kidding, AGs, New Drys, that's why we drink coffee. It tastes good, but it's also deadline in a mug, hot black zing.
If all the little posers who hang out at Starbucks pounding triple espressos and buzzing all night long suddenly started dosing it with flasks of Irish whiskey, would we hear a cry to outlaw that? MillerCoors has let us all down here. I was proud of them when they initially told the New Drys to take a hike on this issue; I'm correspondingly let down that they caved.
Easy for me to say, sure, but if the big guys continue to cave in, we will have no allies to fight the New Drys. Beer tax increases are being discussed in many states, despite the proven track record they have of being bad for both employment and revenue generation. We just celebrated 75 years of Repeal, but I can't help noticing that we got Prohibition by not taking the Drys seriously. Their descendants are well-funded, and they're not going away.