What Are They Doing to My Beloved Beer?

Well it is happening again.  This time it is Pabst Brewing the makers of Colt 45 Blast.  They are being targeted by 19 state’s attorney Generals to take their product from shelves in their respective states.  The argument is that each of the Colt 45 blasts is the equivalent of 5 beers in one can, and based on the marketing of these products they are targeted to underage drinkers.  The fear is that kids will overindulge and get hurt.  Not a good thing.  I get it.  And I must say that while I wasn’t a fan of Four Loco, I thought that they should be able to sell it.  However I am beginning to have some mixed feelings.

See first it was Four Loco with the high ABV and the caffeine, now it is Colt 45 Blast, no caffeine, but an uber high ABV  that is solely intended for inebriation.  Lets face it you aren’t going to open a can and pour a reasonable 2-3 oz of the stuff like you would a mixed drink.  No you will drink the can, which tastes like cool aid and goes down very easy.  Then you will have impaired judgement and have another…Rinse and Repeat.

This really goes against everything Jim and I stand for on this blog.  We are trying to have an intelligent discussion (ok maybe not that intelligent) about beer and whiskey as adult beverages to be enjoyed in moderation.  This takes that to a place which is actually kind of dark, and that is not where beer should be in my opinion.  What is the goal of Colt 45 Blast?  Plain and simple to get kids wasted.  So I’m finding myself agreeing with the Attorney Generals.  Pabst has gone too far.  They have taken beer and turned it into what it used to be perceived as…low class.

Now we have never tried to elevate beer to an elitist level like many of the Beerdoucheratti do, but this is giving beer a black eye and confirming the misconceptions that many people had about beer as a low class drink for losers.  Plain and simple Colt 45 Blast takes beer in the entirely wrong direction.

In the final analysis I’m not sure we need to legislate against this, but it certainly caught my attention as something that we should all be discussing and trying to prevent in the beer community.  An old fashioned boycott might do wonders here.

-Don

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48 Comments on “What Are They Doing to My Beloved Beer?”

  1. April 22, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    What I worry about is that states will go back to capping ABV levels in beers or reclassify them as something else entirely, limiting our access to good, high-ABV craft beer.

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 11:19 am #

      It is the law of unintended consequences Zac. These yayhoos could end up screwing up craft beer as we know it.

  2. April 22, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    That stuff looks like a parody you’d see on The Simpsons. In fact, it’s basically the booze equivalent of the Scammer and Z-Dog snack machines:

    http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Scammer_and_Z-Dog

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      You can see where the kids are liking this stuff. I think the AGs might be onto something here with their marketing rouse.

      • April 22, 2011 at 11:41 am #

        Purely from a marketing standpoint, I admire the evil genius of the campaign. It’s reminiscent of those real crazy over the top smoking ads back in the 50’s. “Four out of five doctors say that Chesterfields are delicious and smooth and refreshing. The other doctor is a communist”.

  3. April 22, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Okay, treading lightly here and certainly not trying to offend anyone, BUT…

    …Have you noticed how this plays on certain racial stereotypes? A boozy grape-soda-flavored Colt 45? Promoted by Snoop Dogg? I don’t think this is about kids.

    I’m surprised Reverend Al isn’t all over this.

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      That didn’t escape me either. You would think the black community would come out against this stuff. We need a lot of folks to come out against this. The problem with the AGs coming out against it is they are the establishment or “the Man” and they may find that there is a backlash of support for these stupid things.

    • April 22, 2011 at 11:49 am #

      Nothing replaces Purple Drank. No, you’re right. I don’t know that it will appeal to the African-American community, but it does seem like Pabst is playing on racial stereotypes.

  4. April 22, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    BTW, this is malt liquor, not beer. But certainly could lead to ABV-centric legislation, which would suck.

  5. April 22, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    I’m on the fence about this one. On the one hand, the marketing and packaging is clearly aimed at teens, I’d almost say tweens with those colors. On the other hand, we continue to enjoy freedom of speech by allowing things like this. Getting more bang for the buck has been around forever; I read somewhere that at the turn of the last century before prohibition, US beer gardens would routinely serve beer in small buckets rather than glasses. I do think that Pabst needs to reevaluate the packaging; but as far as the high ABV, unless drinking one can would be lethal, you have to let them do it.

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      I have mixed feelings too Will, and for the reasons you mention. My problem is that drinking one of these will get you intoxicated. You can have a drink or a beer and not be intoxicated, that isn’t a possibility here. BTW this used to be my argument against legalizing Marijuana, it is impossible to not get high if you smoke it. I guess I’ve moderated on that one a bit.

      • April 22, 2011 at 11:58 am #

        I’m right there with you on the pot issue; depending upon the individual, you can drink a little and not be drunk, take a toke though…. What is the ABV is for one can by the way?

        • Don
          April 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

          It is a 23.5 oz single serving can at 12% ABV. It is also being called “binge-in-a-can”.

        • Don
          April 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

          I guess that translates into about a 13% 22oz bomber.

        • Don
          April 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

          Now that I’m thinking about it, this could lead to alcohol caps being set on malted beverages, like Zac alluded to earlier. If that ends up being the case it could really screw up craft beer.

      • April 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

        Funny thing is, we beer geeks would split a bottle like that at least two ways, if not more. Then, we’d sip it slowly and go on and on about the brewing process or all the flavors and aromas we get. Maybe that’s how folks will consume Blast as well.

        • Don
          April 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

          Mmmm….Grapey!

    • April 22, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      I agree. The Four Loko thing made sense to me because of how caffeine could impair the realization of how drunk you were getting. In this case, it’s just alcohol, which you can get sweet and unnervingly easy drinking form anywhere from Boone’s Farm to Southern Comfort. There are plenty of alternatives to this stuff out there already.

  6. April 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I hear they have a new marketing campaign:

    • April 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

      You know we bein’ wasted!

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      I got dat purple drank…

    • April 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Love the sizzurp!

  7. April 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    I saw a banner for this product when I was in a distributor’s warehouse in Florida. Snoop was the focus and the vibrant colors were obnoxiously eye-catching. I actually wasn’t surprised to see a product like this on the market, but I was surprised to see PBR behind it. They’ve done so much work in the last decade on re-building the PBR brand, and they did a killer job in reaching some really hard-to-impress consumer audiences. But, this sets them back. At least in mind. Interestingly, both Four Loko and Sparks (which was the first major malt/caffeine product to get singled-out) continued on without the alcohol. I know Sparks has pretty much tanked. But there’s obviously a huge market that all of these players want a piece of – caffeine or not. And it’s an audience that will continue to be targeted no matter how many new players get shut down. Hopefully there’s a way to solve the inherent problems without affecting other parts of the beer market that aren’t doing anything wrong.

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

      Let’s hope so, but I always get nervous when the Government steps in.

  8. April 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    It’s a good thing Pabst didn’t screw up like Molson Coors did: http://www.torontosun.com/2011/04/22/molson-pulls-mislabelled-beer-from-quebec-shelves

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

      Perhaps if they had, we wouldn’t be having this discussion? Just a thought.

  9. April 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    This is both hilarious and disturbing. First of all, it’s a Colt 45 product- not exactly know for being classy, so this is really not much of a surprise. Secondly, and it surprises me that no one else here has mentioned it, it tastes like KoolAid. Really? WTF?!? It’s alcohol that comes in the same flavors as KoolAid/Fanta/Juicy Juice/Jolly Ranchers. There’s no way to market this to actual adults. I may like a good orange soda every now and again, but its not something I’m going to get excited about. I’m not going to jump up and make a Jolly Ranchers run at 12 am, either. It’s kids that can’t get enough of that stuff…and this crazy product is just up their alley. It’s childishly flavored and childishly packaged; those cans look like they ought to come with a free prize somewhere in the case! I’m usually the first girl to want the gov’t to stay out of my rights and freedoms, but I find this particular stuff simply obscene. I know Snoop Dogg has kids. I wonder if he considered how this product, which he is promoting, would appeal to them. Would he be fine with his daughter (when she’s a teen) getting trashed at a party after just one drink?

    Sell the crap, fine. But change the appearance and the marketing to actually look like something an adult would be interested in. I, frankly, would be embarrassed walking around a party carrying one of those cans. They look like the Trapperkeeper I carried in Middle School for crying out loud!

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      Perhaps they ought to consult someone other than Crayola when selecting can colors? I think that is the biggest prob the AGs have is the packaging is obviously aimed at the underage drinker. This is another reason we will never get rid of our drinking age law. There is always some shark out there that will market inappropriately and try to make a buck off of someone’s addiction.

  10. scott
    April 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Pumping impatient douche baggery into our society. Internet generation can’t handle anything that takes more than a few seconds to get you drunk. And too panty waist to drink the hard stuff. Could you imagine your dad drinking one of these? Ever? Just goes into your point of they’re targeting kids.

    • Don
      April 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      Good points all, Scott. No I could never imagine anyone drinking one of these, except 15 and 16 year old HS students. That is why this stuff has to be fixed!

  11. John Joyce
    April 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Till they ban Red Bull and vodka or jager bombs what’s the difference. Idiots always find a way to get hammered. Steel reserve tastes like crap and has a higher abv.

    • Don
      April 23, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      I think the big difference her John is that based on the labeling, marketing, and (lets face it) flavor of these brews they are marketing this stuff to kids. I would say their primary market would be kids between the ages of 15 and 22. So the majority of their market is under the legal drinking age. I mean would you drink a grape flavored beer? Not wine grape, but Nehi grape. I wouldn’t, and most people with half a brain would not. That is why this is for kids. They are the only ones in our society that have less than half a brain.

  12. John Joyce
    April 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Beerdoucheratti is my new favorite term

    • Don
      April 23, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      I liked it too. Fits pretty good, no?

  13. David T
    April 22, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Personally, I am not a fan of this product and even less a fan of Four Loco, as I work in the health field and know all too well the effects of binge drinking. But allow me to play Devil’s Advocate for a minute. How does this differ from a bottle of Barefoot Moscato? One may have a flashier label, be classified as a malt beverage and some may claim be marketed at a younger demographic versus the other which has a cork and is made from grapes. But the blast can is roughly the same size and abv as that wine, and both are sweet tasty easy to chug drinks. But I don’t hear any attorney generals complaining that a Real Housewife of Anytown USA or even a college student may polish off a whole bottle of said moscato in one sitting, which I’m sure many do same as drinking a can of this. At the end of the day, the health effects are exactly the same.

    • Don
      April 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Agreed. I think what the difference is that I have never even heard of Barefoot Moscato, and Blast is pushing hard on marketing these products for high profits. They are being the squeaky wheel. So they are getting the attention.

  14. April 23, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    These guys might go for it…

    • Don
      April 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      WOW! Was this a song, or a 3 minute infomercial for Four Loco? That is pretty disgusting. Again where is Al Sharpton here when there is real danger to the black community? I guess there would n’t be enough exposure for him to give it the time of day. Too bad. This is terrible stuff.

      • April 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

        Maybe the folks at Pabst want a free infomercial like this.

  15. April 23, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing remotely positive about the production and availability of this kind of “beer”. You’re right to make the point regarding the lower class associations and misconceptions regarding beer and beer drinkers many still hold true.

    They should sell this stuff in a package with pre-stained wife beater ribbed tank tops and every can should come with a discount coupon for bail bondsman’s services. In fact, bail bondsmen would be a natural sponsor.

    As a devoted craft beer evangelist and former prosecutor I wish the various Attorney Generals Offices well in their effort to keep this ‘get drunk juice’ off the market.

    @TheAlemonger

    • Don
      April 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      I’m not sure how it will go. I would say that with things like Four Loco on the market and whatever other crap that will come out in the coming months and years it will be an up hill battle. But there has to be a way to distinguish this stuff from real craft beer with a higher alcohol content. I just want to make sure that whatever regulations they ultimately put on this crap doesn’t have a negative impact on Craft Beer.

  16. Brian
    April 25, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    This is a very tough area… I was wondering how was this any different than if Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Bacardi Silver came out with a higher ABV version. They’re both fruity malt beverages… or as I’ve heard “alco-pops”. Well… I went to the Mike’s website and sure enough they have “Mike’s Harder Lemonade”… which is 8% ABV in big cans.

    Now… I’d prefer a craft beer, and I’m sure those who read this blog would prefer a craft beer, but… this is a market out there for these products. I know people (in their 30’s) who would prefer a cider over a beer because well… it’s sweeter. If Magners decided to come out with a higher ABV version, should it be banned?

    I think the government needs to be very very careful the line they follow here. Is it the flavor profile that gets you in trouble here. Should Jim Beam Stag be banned because it has a “cherry” flavor that is marketed to “kids”? How about all those flavored rums and vodka’s that admittedly have that “kool aid” flavor profile and bright labels (Cruzan or worse… UV Vodka)

    Basically it’s a very blurry line… and if someone wants to get drunk on sugary swill, there will always be that bottle of $9 vodka (or even Everclear) and a packet of kool-aid. Four Loko and Colt 45 have just taken the work out of it.

    • Don
      April 25, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      Good points Brian, but my fear is that these are Malted beverages and Beer is also a malted beverage. So any restrictions they may place on this brew could also get placed on beer. There could be some very bad unintended consequences for craft beer. So that is my concern, that and the very blatant marketing of these products to inner city underage drinkers.

      • Brian
        April 25, 2011 at 11:32 am #

        It’s funny because admittedly, the best cure is for the big brewers behind this beverages need to be more successful in the craft market with their current brands or through acquisitions. That way… they would have more lose from craft beer sales and would watch what they did with these “buzz in a can” drinks.

        Basically if A-B-Inbev-Coors-Miller-Molson-etc Co had more revenue from Belgian quad’s or double IPAs than they did from Bright, Sweet, Kool-aid, alcoholic soda… they would second think selling the soda, because it could risk a ban on both beverages.

        A very odd way to think of it… but it’s all about the bottom line to this big guys.

        • Don
          April 25, 2011 at 11:49 am #

          It is a sad and confused world sometimes. I have heard a new spin on the AB InBev acquisition of Goose Island that I will share tomorrow. The bigs really are totally out of touch with Craft beer.

  17. John S.
    April 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    As a younger, but still avid, fan of beer and whiskey, I can say from firsthand experience that I am disgusted with this beverage. My friend and I thought it might be entertaining to try a can of this stuff (each) over the weekend. As regular drinkers we very rarely get sick, however, after only a can each, and a few more beers, we both became extremely (I can’t stress this enough) sick. The next day, I woke up, and was immediately greeted by the same experience from the night before. It is now Monday (we drank it on Saturday) and I am still sick, as is my friend, who missed school. This is extremely cheap, low quality, garbage. Not only am I appalled that such a product would be made, but that it would be made by Pabst of all people. This makes me question the company as a whole. I only hope that this drink is made an example, and taken from the shelves in due time.

    • Don
      April 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      Well John, I hope you mean when you say missing School, you are talking about college. Otherwise this proves my point entirely about who these drinks are marketed to. However if this garbage makes people sick for days after drinking it could prove a rather effective deterrent to underage drinking…Hmmmm…. Conundrum.

      • John S.
        April 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

        By school I do mean college, so no need to panic! However, I do agree that the drink is clearly marketed towards a younger crowd. The can’s design, the name, the flavors, and the fact that Snoop Dogg is the face of the drink, all point towards a younger crowd. I saw a youtube video in which some members of the Pabst brewing co. discuss the target market etc. They claim it is males and females 21-29, from an “urban” setting. They also briefly show a slide which lists some of the qualities of their target market, some of which are hip-hop etc. The entire thing is questionable. Again, I really hope this isn’t indicative of where companies are headed with their drinks, as I’d hate to see the quality of beer take a hit due to this kind of junk.

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