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This jolt's for you

good to the last belch

February 03, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND

In a nation as rich, as innovative and as powerful as the United States of America, it is something of a shame and an embarrassment that we had to wait so long for such an essential product.

After all, we've had the electric light for 125 years and the telephone for 130 years. So there can be no excuse that it took so long for us to hit upon what obviously will become known as the breakthrough of the century: caffeinated beer.

Beer with a jolt of caffeine in it. Beautiful. Icehouse meets Maxwell House. Good to the last UUURRP.

Actually, it was Anheuser-Busch that announced last week that it will indeed bring to market a beer - called B(e) - that contains caffeine, which is the answer to all those times you have been too much in the bag to fully appreciate the benefits of alcohol consumption.

Look, a cure for cancer can wait. This was clearly a front-burner item that was way past due. We had Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Dry - now we'll have Bud Wired. Just a little boost to remember the alphabet when you're chatting it up with an officer by the side of the road.

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I wish they'd had this in my day. I could have accomplished so much more - not accomplished it coherently, perhaps, but accomplished it nonetheless. There's nothing worse than coming home from a bar too drunk and too exhausted to iron shirts. And if this beer is truly energizing, it will likely cause a sea change in all those country music lyrics: "Don't come home a drinkin' with mowing the grass, building a spice rack and waterproofing the deck on your mind."

This innovation will create a new generation of sentences you have never before heard. Like in the office: "Man, I just can't seem to wake up this morning, I better go get a beer." And can the folks at Miller be far behind? As we speak they're probably developing a whole new ad campaign "Tastes great! Less stupefying!"

The folks at Anheuser-Busch say, "We market B(e) to today's contemporary adults, and they've told us that they want something to help them keep up with their fast-paced and highly social lifestyle."

Did they now? Funny, I thought most people drank beer to forget their fast-paced and highly social lifestyle. But maybe not. Maybe today's executive needs a beer that will get him through his busy day. At least it might make for some interesting acquisitions. After a long day of negotiating and pounding coffee-beer, the boards of directors might decide it would be "awesome" to merge Northrop-Grumman and Schwinn.

I hope caffeinated beer doesn't mean, however, that people will start taking their frosty drafts with cream and sugar. I don't want to have to walk into Starbucks and choose between a latte and a beerspresso.

We had a variation of that theme back when I was a bartender in college. The owners would gladly give away cups of coffee for free, under the working theory that it would give the guy who'd had one too many a chance to sober up - and then, of course, buy more beer.

And at any given time, there were always one or two fellows who had vowed to quit drinking altogether, and they'd sit there all night downing cups of joe. The record for this, as I recall, was about three days running, after which they'd be back on the sauce. I reckon more people get saved in Vegas than get sober in a bar.

Although they might, if their only choice of beverage was caffeinated beer, the taste of which is apparently what you might call nontraditional.

The brewmaster who developed the beer says it has "an aroma of blackberry with a little bit of cherry, which is unexpected" and a "bright, slightly sweet tart finish."

Oh, here we go with the winebabble. If you blindfold them, most people wouldn't know red wine from Red Skelton, but they'll sit around for hours swishing fluid around in their mouths like they were checking their jowls for leaks, making lofty pronouncements about an afternote of citrus. Sometimes I wish a winemaker would stir about 40 possums into the vat, just to see how many people would still think they detected an aroma of strawberries.

Besides, when Billy Ray picks up a beer, he wants it to be beer flavored. He does not want it to be "unexpected" flavored. When you want beer you drink beer, when you want unexpected you marry Liza Minnelli.

Just the caffeine is fine, thank you, we don't want a beer that tastes like Hi-C. The whole idea is fruity enough as it is.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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