Moonshot 69 is Shot: Brewer of Silly Caffeinated Beer Aborts the Mission

Can’t say we didn’t see this coming.  Rhonda Kallman, former Sam Adams executive and brewer of Moonshot 69, the gimmicky caffeinated beer featured in Beer Wars, is officially calling it quits.  She will be shutting down her “brewery” (her beers were contract brewed) this month, and will no longer be heaving her cleavage at bartenders in the Boston area to convince them that a beer containing caffeine is a good idea. 

Moonshot fell victim to the recent FDA ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages and to the fact that it was a stupid idea in the first place.  Some may blame the government on this one, but mostly it was Darwin’s work in the marketplace that scuttled Rhonda’s mission.  At least she can blame the FDA for the failure and not the fact that Moonshot 69 never really caught on with beer drinkers.

I keep trying to think of ways to feel sympathetic here, but I’m having trouble mustering anything but satisfaction that this endeavor never got off the ground.  I thought Moonshot 69 being featured in Beer Wars pretty much wrecked the film, as it was clearly a product that was all about marketing and not about making great beer.  Moonshot 69 was more like something that “big beer” (the villain in the film) would do, not Sam Adams or Dogfish Head.  It seemed like a product created to exploit the beer market, not make it better, and as a beer geek that ruffled my feathers.  I’m glad Moonshot 69 is shot.

Still, it sucks to see someone’s dream die, and as we discussed here, it would have been better if the market had forced the issue and not the government.

If that bums you out, here’s some other rockets that failed to launch – stuff blowing up always makes it better!

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Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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58 Comments on “Moonshot 69 is Shot: Brewer of Silly Caffeinated Beer Aborts the Mission”

  1. June 30, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Nice graphic, but I’m not sure you needed the “uh oh” to point out what’s going on.

    Still, I agree. The KC Beer Blog ranted about this and asking the beer community to stand up to this sort of government infringement or whatever. I call “bull shit.” Moonshot 69 was a shitty beer disguised by a shittier gimmick. It deserved to die a slow death. The funny thing is that I thought it had shut down a long time ago until this story popped up.

    • June 30, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      I thought it was already dead as well, but leave it to them to make a splashy exit.

  2. Evan
    June 30, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    While I found Beer Wars to be a pretty boring film anyway; it wasn’t helped by the inclusion of this trainwreck. I’m certainly not bummed to see it go.

    • June 30, 2011 at 10:31 am #

      I think Beer Wars could’ve been pretty good without all the time spent on Moonshot and without Anat’s narration. Moonshot was boring and that voice is like nails on a chalkboard. I bet she’s great in person, but not in your ear for a whole documentary!

      • June 30, 2011 at 10:37 am #

        As much as I think it would kill some of us to admit it, the two most engaging characters in the film were Sam and Greg. The filmmaker wasted too much film on a marketer and not enough on brewers.

        • June 30, 2011 at 10:47 am #

          I agree 100%. With so much happening in the beer world, why waste the largest part of your film following someone with nothing “real” to offer?

    • john post
      April 11, 2014 at 4:41 am #

      I like how she claims to have invented the idea of caffeinated beer. I’m pretty sure they had it on the Drew Carey show. Buzz Beer ?

  3. June 30, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    The reviews of it on BeerAdvocate are pretty funny.

  4. June 30, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    um, guys, I really really like you and have re-posted quoted, re-tweeted and “liked” your stuff a lot–I respect that this is a blog and hence open for all manner of opinion and commentary (God knows I do it too)

    But I’m gonna give you a virtual smack over the “heaving her cleavage” crack. Do you know she survived breast cancer?

    Even if that were not the case, an entrepreneur is by nature a go getter, and those of us who actually own, run and market breweries may seem pushy, annoying and shoving ideas that you don’t like in your face. But let’s step back a sec and give her some respect for trying. It’s damn hard work, and many folks simply do not realize what’s involved when you throw your balls out on the table in the name of your company, oh, I meant, your tits.

    I agree that it had no business in Beer Wars. It was a bizarre way to highlight “craft breweries” and our near constant battle with NOT BIG BEER but BIG DISTRIBUTORS. But that’s Anat Baron’s fault, not Rhonda’s.

    love and kisses,
    your favorite cleavage heaver in the name of sales and bloody proud of it, lest you mistake my rant for some kind of “how dare you dis a woman by mentioning her cleavage” ’cause that ain’t why I’m pissed, trust me.
    keep it classy….

    A2 Beer Wench
    E.T. Crowe
    Wolverine Sate Brewing Co.

    • June 30, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      I hear you, oh my favorite Beer Wench. And I agree that as an entrepreneur, you have to use what you got to get the job done.

      I recall in the film that she acknowledges that “the girls” are part of the sales force, and if you’re going to be in a film using your boobs to sell a shitty product, then I reserve the right be snarky about it. It’s the American way.

      I’m glad she survived breast cancer, and I wish her luck with whatever’s next.

      Maybe she’ll brew up some Vitamin Beer, or an Electrolyte Lager. Can’t wait… ;)

      • June 30, 2011 at 11:15 am #

        Come on, Jim. It was a cheap shot and you know it.

        • June 30, 2011 at 11:33 am #

          It’s a shot for sure, but I don’t feel it’s a cheap one. I thought her product was bullshit and it struck me as being pretty grubby that she’d use her boobs for attention at the bars. I get that she’s trying to launch her company and is doing what she feels she has to to be successful, but that doesn’t mean it’s off limits for me to recognize. I was put off by it in the film and it stuck with me for over a year, so I mentioned it.

        • June 30, 2011 at 11:38 am #

          It’s interesting that you’re so willing to call out a woman for using her own sexuality, but I have yet to read a post where this blog will call out men for using women’s bodies to sell beer, which is far more prevalent.

          Criticize her for selling a shitty product, but sexist remarks are a bit low. You know where I stand on this. I’ll drop it for now so as not to congest this thread anymore.

        • June 30, 2011 at 11:42 am #

          I know your POV on this stuff, and I respect it. I’m not sure we’ve done a post on it, but we’ve mentioned more than once that the “big brewers” are skeevy for using half naked women to sell crappy products.

          I really don’t consider what I wrote to be sexist. I guess you could say it’s sexual, as I refer to a tactic that Rhonda acknowledges during the film, but I’m not demeaning her gender – I think she is, which I guess is her right. As is mine for pointing it out.

        • July 8, 2011 at 10:11 am #

          What a bunch of pussies…

        • January 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

          Utterly. Wow, why are beer geeks such TOOLS?

    • June 30, 2011 at 11:14 am #

      Good call, TBW. I chose to ignore the snark so as not to stray too far from the real issue. However, I’m glad you brought it up. Interesting how it’s ok for male brewers and marketers to use women’s bodies to sell beer that it’s generally ignored. However, as soon as a woman takes some agency and uses her sexuality for her own benefit, dudes have to make a crack.

      • June 30, 2011 at 11:38 am #

        That’s really not fair given the context of this blog, Zac. I certainly don’t condone or promote the exploitation of women’s sexuality to sell beer or grab readers, except maybe that one Alessandra Ambrosio post, but that was a case of journalistic juxtaposition.

        Around these parts, we bash Bud and the others for using swimsuit models for selling their crappy beers. I think it’s fair that I do the same with Rhonda Kallman using her boobs to do the same thing. This dude is well within his rights to make a crack.

        • June 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

          I know that I said I was going to drop this, but there’s something that rubs me wrong with your responses. What you’re saying is that if you make crappy beer, you’re not allowed to use swimsuit models or Rhonda Kallman’s breasts to sell beer. However, if you make good beer, it’s okay to use as much sexist imagery as you like and you won’t complain one bit. There’s no hole in that logic.

          Did Rhonda Kallman market a shitty beer? Yes. Was the story about her using sexuality the main reason said beer was terrible? Nope. So, why make the comment?

          I don’t even have the time to tell you what’s wrong with your sexual/sexist remark above.

          Sorry to clog your thread again. I do appreciate your willingness to discuss, but it seems we’ll have to agree to disagree.

        • June 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

          I guess I keep responding because I don’t think we disagree that much, Zac. I think using T&A to sell ANYTHING is bad news, good beer, bad beer, cars, condoms, car condoms, whatever. I think we’re on the same page here.

          My point was that the tactic is kind of low-brow and makes me uncomfortable, whether it’s Bud or Rhonda or import car magazines.

          i certainly took a shot at her for using her sexuality to sell beer, mostly because I thought it was base.

          Anyway, I still love you, and we can agree to disagree here. I’ll even let you have the last word (something I’m clearly not good at) and WILL NOT respond if you reply to this.

          The floors is yours, and you can wipe it with me!

        • June 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

          I love you too, Jim. [LAST WORD ZING!!!]

  5. June 30, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I agree that it was a pretty shitty presentation of a beer but it is a little wrong to be happy that someone’s dream crashed and burned. Some people want to create something that is going to be geared towards the masses instead of a niche crowd. Should we shit all over them for that? I don’t think so. We sure don’t have to like it but I don’t agree with wishing their product an early demise. She wasn’t hurting anyone in the craft industry by her wanting to do her thing.

    What I’m saying is crap on the beer all you want but don’t wish a person’s business to fail just because you don’t like the product.

    Just my thought at being somewhat humane and keeping the “Beer People are Good People” approach to things.

    • June 30, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      I like your take on things Mike – very big-hearted.

      I guess Moonshot makes me feel protective about the beer scene, rooting against something that I see as exploitative, more of a marketing idea than a real beer. That’s the motivation behind my grave dancing. But you’re right, beer people are good people, and I honestly do wish her luck in whatever her next endeavor is. I bet some of the craft breweries are getting big enough to use a lady like her at the helm.

  6. FatCatKC
    June 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Don’t worry about it Jim your comments hit the nail on the head. It’s not like you were calling names or incinuating anything other than she showed off “her girls”, which she did mention in the film. What made me secretly hope she failed is when she tried to sell out at the end of the movie. She wants to be part of craft and have an independent idea yet she tried to sell out. Yeah she has passion right? Passion for money. These days everyone is so worried about offending people, its ridiculous. Stop talking yourselves so damn serious, none of us are that important.

    • June 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

      Thanks Fat Cat. I think it’s fine that people are sensitive to this stuff – it’s their right and they are folks I respect.

      I’m just not used to being the one called sexist – that’s usually Don’s gig! :)

      • June 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

        For the record, I don’t think you’re sexist, Jim. Don’s the sexist pig. (I kid.) The remark is a sexist one. That’s all. If I implied or flat out called you sexist, I apologize.

  7. ScottG
    June 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Is there some sort of rule book one can refer to in order to understand when pointing out something is sexist?
    I’ve not seen the film, so I can’t comment on the specifics, but the theme of the conversation as I read it here is
    1) A woman is empowered because she is using her physical attributes to sell her business
    2) It’s sexist to that point out
    3) It’s sexist to use someone else’s physical attributes to sell your product, unless the target audience is the same gender as the person you are using to market said product.
    4) I thought this was a beer blog, not a first-year sociology lecture. (notice I didn’t say freshman because that is sexist.)

    • June 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

      1. No. However, it’s not cool to call Kallman’s use of her sexuality if this blog also doesn’t call out male craft brewers for the same thing.
      2. Depends.
      3. No. I’m not sure where you got that one.
      4. This is a beer blog, but the thing that Jim and Don do better than most is explore the culture around craft beer and not just the beer itself. Also, I would expect this discussion in a Women’s and Gender Studies course before sociology. (“First-year” is the most inclusive term, but I’m not sure that “freshman” is sexist.)

    • FatCatKC
      June 30, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

      You didn’t get the memo?
      Rule #1: We should never acknowledge that women are different then men in any way. That is sexist.

      Rule#2: We should not document any observation of a women’s anatomy even though she is willing to, and acknowledges herself, that she is using her anatomy to sell a product.

      Rule#3: A womens body should never be observed in any way or we will all go to hell and be labeled a sexist on the ride down there.

      • June 30, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

        Maybe all you guys need to take a WGS course one of these days.

        Rule #1: It is sexist to think that there is no difference between men and women.

        Rule #2: There’s a difference between “documenting” an observation and objectification and making demeaning comments.

        Rule #3: I guess you better gouge out your eyes then.

        • FatCatKC
          June 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

          On Rule#1 that is hilarious because somebody on a different forum said that if we acknowledge any difference between men and women IS being sexist. (Not being insulting or snarky on this, I just got a chuckle).

          Regarding women being used for advertisement and/or selling stuff in person. Are any of these women held hostage, stripped nearly naked at gun point, and photographed? Because if they are, shame on me for looking I was not aware.

        • June 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

          That is funny. Feminists do have a sense of humor, contrary to popular belief.

          Your second point completely misses the mark. The issue is so much larger than that. Instead, I would ask why the only thing those women have to offer is their appearance. Why aren’t there images of hot, half-naked men in beer advertising? Why are there so many more men on this thread than women?

          Honestly, I didn’t want be the one making a big deal, but I fell Jim’s comment was lazy at best and sexist at worst. The whole point of the post was that a lame attempt at craft brewing didn’t make it. The discussion whether we should celebrate or lament this event is way more interesting, but I can’t let bad information persist.

        • June 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

          I fought you on sexist, but no way am I gonna disagree about the lazy comment! :)

        • June 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

          LULZ.

      • July 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

        “I believe a woman should always be put on a pedestal … high enough that we can look up her skirt” – Steve Martin

  8. June 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    While I could see Moonshot’s demise coming in the first few minutes after Rhonda’s introduction in Beer Wars, I take no satisfaction out of it actually happening.

    There are gimmicky beers all over the place in the Craft Beer world; just how many different fruits, vegetables, and spices can we throw in there anyway? Oskar Blues was called a gimmick when they first came out in cans, many beer drinkers have tried Arrogant Bastard because of the name alone, these are both better products than Moonshot granted; but calling something out just because it’s trendy is counter to the spirit of open mindedness most craft beer enthusiasts hold. You have to remember that when this was filmed, it was a while before the shit hit the fan about caffeinated drinks.

    Rhonda had the craft beer cred and was striking out on her own, that’s why she and her beer were included in the documentary. I like Beer Wars, but then again I was intrigued by the documentary Helvetica ;). I have met many people who have a better understanding of the economics and politics of beer because it.

    From what I hear, those of you who put down BW because of a lack of the smaller craft breweries, will be better suited by the upcoming Beer Culture.

    • June 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      Well said, Will – all of it.

      But let me say that if Rhonda was making an awesome beer that also had caffeine in it, I wouldn’t be cheering for its demise. Why not have a coffee stout with a kick? Or even a Boston Brawler (that’d be an amped up Boston Lager)

      But from all accounts, Moonshot was pisswater dosed with caffeine. That’s the issue I have with the beer, not just that it’s gimmicky – it’s gimmicky and purposefully pedestrian.

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Here, here. I know the woman. She was selling Samuel Adams before you guys were even zygots in your parents’ imaginations.

      • January 16, 2014 at 10:45 am #

        I highly doubt that, considering I just turned 50 ;)

        • January 16, 2014 at 10:52 am #

          Happy belated birthday Will – good to see you here!

        • January 17, 2014 at 11:44 am #

          :)

  9. June 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    OK, I’ll say it. I think Jim and Don are using their sexy eyes and provocative gazes in those pictures in the sidebar to get people to read this blog.

    I also enjoy when Women use their girl parts to sell stuff. Why not. It works.

    • June 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

      So you’re saying you kind women folk and chunky, bald, middle-aged beer bloggers equally alluring?

  10. June 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    can we talk about bears or something. How about Misery Bear…he loves booze! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTTGmxBXoiI

    • June 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

      Misery Bear is my new favorite thing EVER.

  11. June 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    No comment.

  12. July 1, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Hallelujah; one more non-beer dead!

    Why can’t folks leave a good thing be. I’ve HATED flavored/”enhanced” beers since the late 60’s, when I worked part-time in a liquor store and the owner insisted I try National Bo’s “Grape-Duck” (a bad beer partnered w/ grape juice concentrate–ugghh!) In my NSHO that kind of stuff falls into the same category as chocolate-chip bagels or double-mocha frappe whatever coffee. Ruins a perfectly good product. You don’t need it! Its like painting a DeLorean.

    • July 1, 2011 at 9:33 am #

      I like it when folks play with flavors, but the result has to be good (or at least interesting). I am, however, totally opposed to someone painting a DeLorean!!!

  13. Don
    July 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    I know I’m late to this party, and having read through ALL the comments I actually forgot what I was going to say, but I did once see a red DeLorean, and it was pretty awesome!

  14. JZ
    July 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Stupid idea…….. Yet copied by many. Young people started adding red bull to alcohol years ago so it had some validity. Yet you didn’t like it…………. how sad because your taste must be the only thing that matters Jim in all of your what 5-6 years of drinking legally. Then you throw out a cheap shot about her body because of what you saw in a movie. You have no idea of the hard work and sacrifice to do something that complex and consuming. You are what…….. a blogger. Give it a rest. You chase fads yourself, done and done on to the next one. Worst article I have ever read. Period. You should work for Rolling Stone.

    • July 6, 2011 at 6:56 am #

      I can’t say anything in your comment is accurate, but I do like the Rolling Stone crack. :)

  15. aa
    January 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    There’s a difference in mixing listerine with painkillers or red bull with vodka and crafting a beer with shot of caffeine.
    We are a Duff nation – low income, half literate, white trash who like to drink Bud….I mean Duff!

  16. beerme
    February 5, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    I am the co-owner of 3 convenience stores and a friend of mine saw beer wars and said we should watch it and get dogfishhead and moonshot in our stores. myself and my fellow co-owners decided to make an event of it and to make a long story short I drunkenly found my way to this site after watching the documentary so here are my thoughts (you should know i am sorry i know little about craft beers and while I drink “good beer” now in my late 20’s I can say the very early years were all filled with one to many natty lights)

    Its a difficult spot, part of me wants to hate her and part wants to respect the hell out of her.From what I can tell from reviews the beer was very lack luster but regardless from a marketing standpoint she is a force to be reckoned with in the beer industry.She saw from the beginning that there was an untapped market in the use of caffeine in alcoholic beverages, however she introduced it as a caffeine craft beer to a market which proved to be non-responsive to a gimmicky product like that, however the idea worked in four loco a cheap product with all artificial flavor was by far the best selling alcoholic beverage in our stores in 2009 and 2010 (just ahead of natty light). I think her part in Beer Wars added a lot to the story cause it showed how even for someone who was a major player at the Boston beer company cant compete against the power of the big 3. It sounds like by the time she started her own company the big companies had learned how to deal with these small independents and she did not have a chance from the start. So I guess all i’m trying to say is that she may still be a force to be reckoned with, so don’t count her out yet, she may surprise you with something new.

  17. June 4, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Linked to your blog from an article I recently wrote here http://www.divinebrew.com/management/to-beer-or-not-to-beer-21st-century-for-coffee-beer/

  18. homebrewjew
    November 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    just sayin….for all the “sexist” or “not sexist” or whatever remarks (without any examples or male brewers using female bodies actually being presented for evidence)….

    she didn’t even come up with this idea. Drew Carey did. Buzz Beer. Cmon, MAN!

  19. January 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Blank Danbotic Stare: Notes from Denmark and commented:
    It’s old, but what. a. fucking. douchebag. Something tells me these fucktoads are jerking themselves raw over the snotty fucks from Mikkeller, whose bar I’ve had the unfortunate experience of actually visiting. http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/mikkeller-bar-k%C3%B8benhavn-v#hrid:TCiDgc8jWBeOZ6bQyJPfPA

    • January 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Yeah, I visited both of the Mikkeller bars in Copenhagen earlier this fall and they were fantastic. There are anti-sexism, non-douchebags among beer geekery.

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