Under pressure from a number of states’ attorney generals, Anheuser-Busch says they’re going to stop producing caffeine-laced alcoholic "energy drinks" critics say are aimed at underage drinkers

Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. will reformulate its alcoholic energy drinks to remove caffeine and other stimulants they contain as part of a nationwide legal settlement, it announced Thursday.

An investigation by attorneys general of 11 states found the largest U.S. brewer was marketing its caffeinated alcoholic beverages to minors and misrepresenting the drinks’ health benefits, New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.

Though the company agreed to make changes, it insisted its Tilt and Bud Extra drinks were not marketed to minors.

Anheuser-Busch has also agreed not to produce, distribute or market any other alcoholic drinks containing caffeine or other stimulants.

"This agreement keeps these dangerous products off our shelves and makes it clear that targeting underage consumers with advertisements for alcohol will not be tolerated," Cuomo said.

But Katz said the settlement agreement "contains no findings that Anheuser-Busch engaged in unlawful behavior or advertised to youth, and it points to no documents stating that we did so."

She said the attorneys general "drew their own conclusion about whom we were targeting in marketing Bud Extra and Tilt. However, the AGs’ allegations are wholly inconsistent with the way these products actually were marketed."

 A bit more about the responsible adult appeal of these products from the website of Cindy McCain’s Anheuser-Busch distribution business

Bud Extra, formerly BE, is a distinctive beverage perfect for those who thirst for real beer taste but need something extra to keep up with their highly social and fast-paced lifestyles. Bud Extra is infused with caffeine, ginseng, guarana, and natural raspberry flavor to bring beer to the next level.

TILT…the new flavored, caffeinated malt beverage combining bold berry flavor, bright orange color and 6.6% ABV. TILT is the kick-off for turning off the day and tilting the night your way.

Both products have since been removed from the Hensley website. So has this

070125_spykes_vmedwidec.thumbnail.jpg SPYKES and BEER- It’s the ultimate hook-up.
A SPYKES pour takes beer up a notch by adding a caffeinated rush and a sweet taste that finishes hot. SPYKES is a celebrated alternative to hard liquor shots.

and you’ll never guess why

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch has done an abrupt about face, saying it will discontinue production and marketing of Spykes, a flavored malt beverage critics charged would encourage underage drinking.

The beverage contains 12 percent alcohol by volume, more than twice that of beer.

“This is a shameful ploy to market malt liquor to the Lunchables set," said George A. Hacker, director of alcohol policies at CSPI. "Anheuser-Busch is practically begging to be investigated, subpoenaed, sued, or hauled before a Congressional committee to explain this one.”

The drinks are spiked with caffeine and other stimulants but consumers aren’t warned about the health risks posed by the products, according to the attorneys general of 30 states.

An Anheuser-Busch executive had defended Spykes, saying it was created for adults as "a lower alcohol content alternative to hard liquors that come in flavors like apple, lemon, peach, orange, raspberry, pear, banana, and pomegranate, and which are mixed with other beverages to create flavored drinks such as chocolate and apple-flavored martinis."

although the low-alcohol mix-in for adults competing with hard liquor strategy didn’t quite work out for them

When Spykes were first marketed, about 30 percent of customers drank them without mixing, but that’s risen to 60 percent, McGauley said.

“Spykes have done well with all demographics, but particularly with college students and tourists,” said Bryan Merrit, sales manager for Anheuser-Busch distributor L.E. Lichford Inc. in Lynchburg, Va.

“Each month for the first four months, we couldn’t even keep it in stock, and we sold a little more each period,” Merrit said. “Sales have slowed down some now, probably due to the season.”

Since midsummer, the distributor said it has sold 1,500 cases of Spykes for as much as $2 a bottle. In addition to retail stores, Lichford distributes Spykes in bars and restaurants that only served beer, lessening the competition with mixed drinks.

 The AGs of 29 states had something to say about that one.

 So what’s the big deal?

Researchers have conducted several peer-reviewed studies into these questions since 2000. The conclusions? Caffeine won’t keep you from getting drunk. In fact, drinking caffeine with alcohol could be more dangerous than drinking alcohol alone, from a psychological perspective. One of the fascinating things about how humans process alcohol is that we involve our brains as well as our bodies: we have at least some capacity to overcome alcohol’s effects by sheer force of will. Mark Fillmore, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, has found that study volunteers who are warned that a certain alcoholic drink will highly impair their performance on a psychomotor test actually do better on the test than people who are given the same drink but no information about impairment. In other words, at least in a lab setting, those who are led to believe that they’re about to get truly blotto end up not letting themselves get so blotto. They don’t perform as well on their tests as sober people, but they perform a lot better than the average drinker.

and not getting so blotto? Bad for business.

[Hensley] has opposed such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving in fighting proposed federal rules requiring alcohol content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor.

Its executives, including John McCain’s son Andrew, have written at least 10 letters in recent years to the Treasury Department, have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a beer industry political action committee, and hold a seat on the board of the politically powerful National Beer Wholesalers Assn [which, btw, gives 71% of its money to Republicans]

Well, don’t despair, sophisticated adult drinkers. Hensley will still be bringing Bacardi Silver (a registered trademark of Bacardi & Company Limited, chaired by a McCain fund raiser) in sophisticated adult flavors like watermelon, raspberry, strawberry, apple, peach, and mandarin orange (ed. comment: wurp) to a convenience store near you that doesn’t card.

Although I’m sure that wouldn’t be a problem.

Julia

Julia

Middle-aged (thank god); married (oddly enough); native New Yorker; one (thoroughly magnificent, thanks) child, She Who Must Be Obeyed, aka HM (Her Majesty). But a mere lowly end-user by profession, and a former [pretty much everything, at least in somewhat limited first-world terms].

Extravagant (mostly organic) cook, slapdash (completely organic) gardener, brain space originally assigned to names and faces piled up with the overflow from the desperately overcrowded Old Movie and Broadway Trivia section, garage space which was originally assigned to a car piled up with boxes of books.

Dreadful housekeeper, indifferent dresser, takeout menu ninja and the proud owner of a major percentage of the partially finished crafts projects on the east coast of the continental United States.

The handsome gentleman in the picture is Hoa Hakananai'a. He joined the collection of the British Museum in 1868. His name, which is thought to mean "stolen or hidden friend," was given to him by his previous owners when he was collected.

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