If you’ve seen the movie Beer Wars, then you know who Rhonda Kallman is. She’s the former Sam Adams executive who started her own beer company called Moonshot 69, which she calls a “premium beer with caffeine.” Her product fell victim to the ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages that was enacted to keep stupid college kids from killing themselves with Four Loko and the other “date rape in a can” drinks.
The question is does Moonshot 69 deserve a reprieve from this law, or should it be lumped in with all the other caffeinated malt beverages? Rhonda thinks her product is in a different class altogether. Here’s the text of a letter I came across over on BeerAdvocate:
Dear Loyal Beer Lover,
On November 17, 2010, the FDA sent warning letters to four companies that produce caffeinated malt beverages. Three of the companies were notorious for their high caffeine, high sugar, high alcohol “energy drinks” sold in 23.5 oz cans and marketed to minors. The fourth company was New Century Brewing Co.
Moonshot ’69, my all malt, craft-brewed pilsner beer, bears absolutely no resemblance to the products that brought about the FDA’s ban. For years, Moonshot ’69 was enjoyed by adult beer lovers without incident. I stand by my product and my formula. Moonshot ’69 is a great-tasting beer with 5% alcohol by volume and just 69 milligrams of caffeine – equal to about a half cup of coffee – sold in standard 12 oz longneck bottles. I take pride in my marketing techniques and the responsibility of my loyal customers.
The practice of enjoying alcohol and caffeine together is nothing new. We have all enjoyed a rum and Coke, espresso martini, Irish coffee, or beer flavored with tea leaves. It is important to find an acceptable level of caffeine that all beer producers can adhere to. I agree that over-sized containers full of sugar, fruit flavoring, high amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, with 12% alcohol by volume are dangerous products that the public and our regulators should be concerned about. However, Moonshot ’69 is a beer for beer drinkers that has been enjoyed since 2004.
I have been producing and marketing craft-brewed beer for 25 years. I co-founded Samuel Adams, America’s #1 selling craft beer, and later founded Edison Light Beer, America’s first craft-brewed light beer. I know beer drinkers and I know what they like. After all, I am one! With your help, we can defend the rights of beer enthusiasts and craft brewers across the country. I appreciate you taking the time to learn about this debacle and I ask you to please join the movement to bring Moonshot back! Sign the petition at http://www.moonshotbeer.com , join our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!
Thanks for your support.
Founder and CEO
New Century Brewing Co.
I guess it’s a fair argument, but I’ll be honest – I thought Moonshot 69 was a silly gimmick beer when I watched Beer Wars. It seems like less of a craft beer and more like a marketing ploy, almost like something a macro-brewer would create (less the all-malt recipe, of course – rice it up, baby!). To me, it seems as if Moonshot 69 was created to exploit the craft beer market, not serve it.
That said, I’m sorry to see Rhonda’s years of hard work get destroyed by a firestorm not of her making, but unfortunately this kind of thing happens in business all the time – the rules change and some companies are left holding the bag. I guess I’d feel worse if the product weren’t so silly, but the world of craft beer probably won’t miss Moonshot 69.
But enough about me – what do you think? Should Moonshot 69 get a pass and be allowed to once again sell their mildly caffeinated pilsners to thirsty, drowsy bar patrons? Or is this what happens when you put all of your eggs into a basket woven of gimmicks? Let us know below.
Also, if you’d like to support Rhonda and Moonshot 69, here’s a link to an online petition. Power to the people!