Energy Drinks - Alcohol

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on energy drinks that contain alcohol.

Four Loko To Change Label, Admit How Much Alcohol It Contains
State Attorneys General Negotiate End of Caffeinated "Sparks" Beer
Alcoholic Content of Some Energy Drinks - Up to 12% by volume so far
Caffeine, Taurine, Alcohol and Wormwood? Superstrong Four Malt Liquor
AGs Slam Alcoholic Energy Drinks, Marketing of 'Spykes'
Busch Says Spykes 'Misunderstood'
Spykes Labels Violate Regs, Federal Agency Says
'Spykes' Sparks Concern, Activism Over Kid-Friendly Mix of Alcohol, Energy Drinks
Call for Local Advocacy
The Larger Problem: Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Four Loko caused NJ man lasting heart damage

Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
Model Ordinances to Reduce the Supply of Alcohol to Youth Under Age 21


Click on image for CBS Report

Four Loko To Change Label, Admit How Much Alcohol It Contains


The makers of the alcoholic drink Four Loko have agreed to change its labeling and packaging to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of deceptive advertising.

The FTC says Phusion Projects falsely claimed that a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko, at 11 or 12 percent alcohol, had the same amount of alcohol as one or two typical 12-ounce beers and a consumer could drink a whole Four Loko safely in its entirety on a single occasion.

Actually, according to the FTC, a 23.5-ounce Four Loko contains about as much alcohol as four or five 12-ounce cans of regular beer and is not safe to drink in a single sitting.

Phusion Projects took caffeine out of Four Loko last November after the drink became a target of consumer groups and regulators.

Four Loko's label already disclosed the percentage of alcohol in the drink. The new labels will name the amount of alcohol a can of Four Loko contains and compare it to the amount in regular beer. So a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko that's 12 percent alcohol by volume will now carry a label that states, "This can has as much alcohol as 4 regular (12 oz. 5 percent alc/vol) beers."

Chicago-based Phusion will also have to package the drink in resealable containers.

In November, the FTC issued warnings to Four Loko and three other companies saying their caffeinated alcohol drinks can be dangerous. Warning letters were sent to Phusion Projects, Charge Beverages Corp., New Century Brewing Co. and United Brands Company Inc.

Phusion said it decided before receiving those letters that it would reformulate Four Loko to remove caffeine and the common energy drink additives guarana and taurine.

Phusion co-founder Jaisen Freeman said Monday that his company still feels the product was marketed without deception.

"Even though we reached an agreement, we don't share the FTC's perspective, and we disagree with their allegations," Freeman said. "We don't believe there were any violations. However, we take legal compliance very seriously and we share the FTC's interest in making sure consumers get all the information and tools they need to make smart, informed decisions."

The label never asserted that one Four Loko equaled one or two beers and always showed the percentage of alcohol that was in a 23.5-ounce can, he added later Monday through spokeswoman Caroline Friedman.

The agreement is subject to a 30-day comment period before it can receive final approval and become effective. The company said distributors and retailers will begin receiving the new resealable cans with the new labels in late spring, Friedman said.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/03/four-loko-change-label_n_992735.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl17%7Csec3_lnk3%7C101207

AGs Slam Alcoholic Energy Drinks, Marketing of 'Spykes'


A group of 29 state attorneys general is calling on Anheuser-Busch to change the youth-friendly packaging and marketing of its Spykes caffeine-infused alcohol drinks as well as warning consumers about the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks -- singling out the company's TILT and Bud Extra products for criticism.

In a May 10 letter to Anheuser-Busch chairman August Busch IV, the AGs harshly criticized the company for its marketing of alcoholic energy drinks, particularly Spykes. Noting research showing that mixing alcohol and beverages containing large doses of stimulants like caffeine could lead drinkers to underestimate their level of intoxication, the AGs wrote, "In light of this information, Anheuser-Busch's development and promotion of a variety of alcoholic energy drinks, including 'Spykes,' a flavored malt beverage that contains 12 percent alcohol by volume, as well as caffeine, guarana, and ginseng, is particularly distressing.

"Spykes exhibits all the indicia of a youth-oriented 'starter drink,' while posing the additional risks that arise from combining energy drinks with alcohol," the letter stated. The AGs noted that the product is being promoted online with free ringtone and wallpaper downloads that primarily appeal to adolescents, on a website with no meaningful barriers to youth access. The state law-enforcement officials called on Anheuser-Busch to, "at a minimum," add consumer warnings to its product packaging about the danger of mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

"In our view, the labeling for Spykes is inadequate, and the content of its advertising is irresponsible, reflecting a basic disregard for consumer safety and welfare," the letter stated, adding, "Although we find Spykes, with its fruit and chocolate flavors, high alcohol content, stimulants, and colorful, miniature packaging to be the most objectionable of Anheuser-Busch's alcoholic energy drinks, we are also disturbed by the company's production and advertising of another caffeinated malt beverage, "TILT," and a caffeinated beer, "Bud Extra."

"Given the documented health and safety risks of consuming alcohol in combination with caffeine or other stimulants, Anheuser-Busch's decision to introduce and promote these alcoholic energy drinks is extremely troubling," the letter continued. "Young people are heavy consumers of nonalcoholic energy drinks, and the manufacturers of those products explicitly target the teenage market. Promoting alcoholic beverages through the use of ingredients, packaging features, logos and marketing messages that mimic those of nonalcoholic refreshments overtly capitalizes on the youth marketing that already exists for drinks that may be legally purchased by underage consumers."

The AGs said Anheuser-Busch's promotion of these products called into question its assertion that the company is committed to preventing underage drinking and being part of the solution to fighting alcohol abuse and drunk driving.

"At a minimum, a responsible marketing plan would include a warning about the risks of mixing energy drinks with alcohol and would ensure that each product was packaged in containers large enough to display warnings legibly and to deter concealment by underage youth," the AGs wrote. "Such a plan would also employ effective age-verification methods for entry into branded Internet websites and for delivery of remote-sale purchases, and it would prevent products likely to be favored by teenagers from being sold in venues such as grocery stores and convenience stores.

"Finally, a responsible marketing plan would not direct its focus at young people who have just reached the legal drinking age, without regard for the tremendous appeal that a product's composition, packaging and advertising may also have for underage youth."

Busch Says Spykes 'Misunderstood'


In a statement responding to the AGs letter, Francine I. Katz, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of communications and consumer affairs, said that "those who criticize Spykes fundamentally misunderstand the behavior of many illegal underage drinkers. They drink for instant impact. The fact that Spykes are sold in 2-ounce bottles and have a total alcohol content equivalent to only one-third of a glass of wine makes it much less likely that illegal underage drinkers will choose Spykes as opposed to similarly colored and similarly flavored products that are 70 to 80 proof hard liquor."

"If the attorneys general believe that 50-ml bottles are a problem because their size makes them easily concealable, this standard should apply not just to malt-based products, but to hard liquor as well," said Katz. "If such a uniform standard were the rule, Anheuser-Busch would be happy to comply."

Katz also questioned why the AGs were criticizing Spykes but not caffeinated liquor products, such as Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, or fruit-flavored liquor products. "One would think that if there were going to be a double standard applied, it would favor the lower alcohol content products, not the type of hard-liquor products made by Beam Global and other hard liquor manufacturers," she said.

Katz said the "facts just don't bear out" charges that Spykes is targeted at underage drinkers, saying, "Of-age adults like these flavors."

"[T]he simple fact remains that Spykes are intended for adults 21 and older who enjoy sweet, fruit and chocolate-flavored cocktails and alcohol beverages," she said.

Typically, a letter such as that sent by the AGs to Busch on May 10 represent a shot across the bow -- often a followup to private consultations between law-enforcement officials and corporations that have proven fruitless. If unanswered, such letters can be followed by legal action, although in many cases companies and the AGs will reach some sort of settlement or agreement before the parties wind up in court.
Source: www.jointogether.org/news/features/2007/ags-slam-alcoholic-energy.html

Spykes Labels Violate Regs, Federal Agency Says


Responding to a complaint by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) agreed that the labels on Anheuser-Busch's "Spykes" alcoholic drink mixers violate federal law.

CSPI Alcohol Policies Project director George Hacker wrote to TTB on April 16 complaining that the label on the 2-ounce "Spicy Lime" flavor of Spykes -- the only bottle CSPI had seen to date -- was "seriously out of compliance" with the TTB's alcohol-labeling regulations.

"The government health warning on pocket-sized Spykes Spicy Lime labels is virtually impossible to read without a magnifying glass," wrote Hacker. "It's printed in tiny, barely 1-mm high, nearly invisible silver lettering on a non-contrasting, light lime-green background."

In an April 30 response, TTB administrator John J. Manfreda agreed. "These labels do not comply, due to these problems: the contrasting background makes the warning difficult to read on three of the eight (Spykes) products in the 2-fluid-ounce containers, and the number of characters per square inch exceeds the maximum specified in the regulations for all eight of this size container."

Manfreda said that Anheuser-Busch had agreed to stop production and shipment of Spykes and replace product labels on those bottles already with wholesalers and in warehouses. The company also has submitted applications for redesigned labels that address the problems raised by Hacker, Manfreda said.

Moreover, the brewer also is adding a new tamperproof label to Spykes bottles that includes the flavor and the warning, "Contains Alcohol."

"The illegal labeling of Spykes is actually the least of our concerns about this drink, since it is such an obvious attempt to attract underage kids to alcohol," said Hacker. "But since its labeling is in plain violation of the law, we hope that TTB orders Anheuser-Busch to pull this noncompliant product off the market."

So far, that has not happened. TTB also has not assessed any fines against Anheuser-Busch, although the regulations call for penalties of up to $10,000 per day for noncompliance. CSPI said that the company should be fined more than $3 million for the offending Spykes labels.

Anheuser-Busch has been heavily criticized by alcohol-abuse prevention groups over the release and promotion of Spykes, which is marketed as a flavored additive for beer and liquor drinks. CSPI and other prevention groups say the product appeals to underage drinkers both in its marketing and because it could make the flavor of beer and spirits more palatable to young users.

Preventionists also object to the use of easy-to-hide, pocket-size containers, Spykes' seemingly kid-friendly flavors (Hot Melons, Spicy Lime, Spicy Mango, and Hot Chocolate), and the fact that it mixes alcohol with ingredients typically found in energy drinks, including caffeine, ginseng and guarana. Anheuser-Busch denies that Spykes is intended to lure underage drinkers, maintaining that the target market is young adults.
Source: www.jointogether.org/news/features/2007/spykes-labels-violate-regs.html

'Spykes' Sparks Concern, Activism Over Kid-Friendly Mix of Alcohol, Energy Drinks


The recent controversy about Anheuser-Busch's "Spykes" energy drinks has prompted grassroots advocacy as well as broader concerns about mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

Sold in pocket-sized bottles and containing 12 percent alcohol, Spykes is being marketed as an additive for beer and other alcoholic beverages. "Spykes is a great alternative to hard liquor shots," according to the Anheuser-Busch product website for Spykes. "A Spykes pour takes beer up a notch by adding a caffeinated rush and a sweet taste that finishes hot ... Spykes gives your beer a kick, adds flavor to your drink, and is perfect for a shot."

But critics see the product's bright packaging and fruity flavors -- Spicy Lime, Hot Chocolate, Spicy Mango, and Hot Melons -- as a blatant attempt to market the product to children. Hope Taft, former first lady of Ohio and a board member of the group Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, dashed off a March 30 letter to Anheuser-Busch president and CEO August Busch IV to protest Spykes' "appeal to those under the age of 21."

"It is colorful, flavorful and comes in small, easy-to-conceal sizes, just the qualities today's teenagers are looking for," wrote Taft, who has a long track record in youth drug prevention. "With high-school prom season fast approaching, even your marketing suggests its appeal to underage kids by suggesting 'slipping it into a tiny purse or tuxedo jacket.' The vast majority of tux jackets are worn by high school students this time of year."

"Please be responsible corporate citizens and stop selling Spykes," implored Taft.

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) chairman Arthur Dean also wrote a letter to company executives calling for Spykes to be pulled from the market. "It is hard to believe that Anheuser-Busch does not intentionally market to people under 21 when a product with the flavoring, marketing, and price point of Spykes appears on the market," wrote Dean.

Joseph Califano, chairman and president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, called Spykes "a predatory move to attract underage drinking," comparing marketing of the product to Reynolds Tobacco's attempts to sell sweet-flavored cigarettes in the U.S. -- another product slammed for appealing to kids.

"No 30- or 40-year-old beer drinker is going to add hot chocolate or some other flavor to make beer more palatable, but kids will and when they do they will get two drinks in one," said Califano.

Call for Local Advocacy


CADCA has launched a letter-writing campaign targeting Anheuser-Busch and local distributors and retailers, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) also sent out an action alert urging prevention groups to contact their local Anheuser-Busch distributors and alcohol retailers to ask them to stop selling Spykes.

"Anheuser-Busch is practically begging to be investigated, subpoenaed, sued, or hauled before a Congressional committee to explain this one," said CSPI Alcohol Policies Project director George Hacker.

To that end, CSPI also wrote to members of the National Association of Attorneys General's (NAAG) Youth Access to Alcohol Task Force asking them to investigate Spykes, and is urging local health groups to do the same. Jessica Maurer, special assistant to Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, co-chair of the NAAG task force, said that the panel is "terribly concerned about Spykes" and other products that mix alcohol and energy drinks. "This is the worst tip of the iceberg, but there's a whole iceberg under there," she said of Spykes.

The brewer's response to the flap has hardly been conciliatory. Francine I. Katz, vice president of communications and consumer affairs for Anheuser-Busch, said Spykes is being marketed to "adult consumers" who are "looking for innovative alcohol beverages to match their active lifestyles" and attributed the criticism of Spykes to "perennial, fear-mongering anti-alcohol groups whose members are in the business of spreading misinformation."

She added: "Those who are concerned about the concealability of small containers should focus on those hard-liquor beverages [such as airline "mini-bottles"] already on the market that have three to four times greater concentration of alcohol by volume than Spykes."

The Oregon Partnership, a member of CADCA, was among the first groups to raise a red flag about Spykes, which hit store shelves in January. As a results of the Partnership's advocacy, beer distributors in Oregon agreed in February to stop selling Spykes. That victory helped generate widespread media coverage of the Spykes controversy as well as additional grassroots activity.

Most recently, the town of West Bridgewater, Mass., this week passed a local ordinance banning the sale of Spykes. "We need to reach out to our community and surrounding towns ... to get a similar ban there and hope that it's a chain reaction throughout the state," West Bridgewater Selectman Jerry Lawrence told WBZ-TV on April 10.

State Attorneys General Negotiate End of Caffeinated "Sparks" Beer


It was a bad idea that never should have gotten as far as it did—adding caffeine to sweetened, high-alcohol-content malt beverages and marketing them to young people via word-of-mouth and infantile web sites. Marketing caffeinated beer demonstrated a disturbing lack of restraint on the part of major companies like MillerCoors, and it put millions of young Americans in harms way. That's why we sued the company in September.

Thankfully, the Youth Access to Alcohol Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, led by Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, launched an investigation into these ill-advised products many months ago. And with the announcement today that the AGs and the City Attorney of San Francisco have forged an agreement with MillerCoors to end the Sparks line of caffeinated alcohol, this investigation comes to a successful end. Now that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have each agreed separately to discontinue caffeinated alcoholic drinks, this entire niche of products is all but shut down.

The historic agreement negotiated by the Attorneys General, which also includes curbs on MillerCoors' marketing to youth, means fewer instances of alcohol poisoning, fewer sexual assaults, and fewer young lives snuffed out in car crashes or acts of violence. The smaller companies still operating in this space would be well advised to follow suit.
Source: The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, that focuses on nutrition, food safety, and pro-health alcohol policies. CSPI is supported by the 900,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants. Communications Department, Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW , Washington, DC 20009 or 202.332.9110 or cspinews@cspinet.org

The Larger Problem: Alcohol and Energy Drinks


Critics say that beyond the issues of Spykes' kid-friendly packaging and marketing (the product website includes free Spykes instant-messenger icons and cellphone ringtones) lies the larger problem of mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

"This is not just about giving people a sense of well-being and alertness," said CSPI's Hacker, "but making people believe that they are capable of continuing their alcohol consumption." Hacker said the ultimate goal for Anheuser-Busch is to sell more alcohol, pointing to a comment posted on the Spykes website (since removed) from a purported Spykes drinker, stating: "I can drink these all day, and be ready to go out and party all night."

Despite an ingredient list that includes the stimulants caffeine, guarana, and ginseng -- all commonly found in energy drinks -- Anheuser-Busch's Katz said that Spykes "is neither a high-alcohol content drink, nor an energy drink," adding that each serving has about the same amount of alcohol as a third of a glass of wine and about as much caffeine as in an ounce of dark chocolate.

Industry experts say that the introduction of Spykes is Anheuser-Busch's reaction to the popular practice of mixing energy drinks like Red Bull with vodka and other liquor/energy drink combinations that have eroded the market share for beer. "I'm afraid this is the first wave of what we're going to see in the future," said Judy Cushing, executive director of the Oregon Partnership. "Why can't the industry just stick with producing adult beverages? Are they getting desperate?"

Concern about the danger of mixing energy drinks and alcohol is nothing new: as far back as 2001, researcher David Pearson of Ball State University's Human Performance Laboratory was warning that mixing the stimulants in energy drinks with the depressant alcohol could lead to cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular health problems. Since then, a number of other energy drinks premixed with alcohol have hit the marketplace, including Anheuser-Busch's own Tilt, P.I.N.K. Vodka, Liquid Core, and Liquid Charge.

In the April 2006 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Brazilian researchers reported that people who combined alcohol and Red Bull tended to overlook the extent of their alcohol impairment because the energy drink made them feel so awake.

"Although combined ingestion decreases the sensation of tiredness and sleepiness, objective measures of motor coordination showed that it cannot reduce the harmful effects of alcohol on motor coordination," said researcher Maria Lucia O. Souza-Formigoni of the Federal University of Sao Paulo. "In other words, the person is drunk but does not feel as drunk as he really is. The second important point is that many users reported using energy drinks to reduce a not-so-pleasant taste of alcoholic beverages, which could dangerously increase the amount (as well as the speed of ingestion) of alcoholic beverages."

Researchers expressed particular concern that those who mix alcohol and energy drinks could be more likely to drink and drive.

Maurer told Join Together that the NAAG Youth Access to Alcohol Task Force has "actually been looking into the issue of energy drinks combined with alcohol long before the recent controversy about Spykes." The panel has found, for example, that a number of other nations actively discourage consumers from combining energy drinks with alcohol, including through warning labels on product packages. The public attention and awareness generated by the introduction of Spykes could help pave the way for future action on the broader issue of alcohol and energy drinks, suggested Maurer.
Source: www.jointogether.org/news/features/2007/spykes-sparks-concern.html

Four Loko caused NJ man lasting heart damage


A New Jersey man who says he suffered permanent heart damage after drinking the alcohol- and caffeine-laced Four Loko beverage is suing its manufacturer.

Tire salesman Michael Mustica of Knowlton Township filed the lawsuit last week against Phusion Projects.

The lawsuit, first reported last week by The Press of Atlantic City, claims that during a visit to Atlantic City in October, Mustica drank 2 1/2 cans of Four Loko and suffered heart arrhythmia.

Each can of Four Loko contains 12 percent alcohol — the equivalent of three cans of beer.

Phusion spokesman Chris Hunter declined to comment Monday to The Star-Ledger of Newark but says the company still believes mixing alcohol and caffeine is safe. Phusion agreed to remove caffeine from the drink in November after complaints from the Food and Drug Administration.
Source: www.dailyfinance.com/article/suit-four-loko-caused-nj-man-lasting/1674165/

Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility


Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous - both to themselves and society at large. Underage alcohol use is associated with traffic fatalities, violence, unsafe sex, suicide, educational failure, and other problem behaviors that diminish the prospects of future success, as well as health risks. Despite these serious concerns, the media continues to make drinking look attractive to youth, and it remains possible and even easy for teenagers to get access to alcohol.

Why is this dangerous behavior so pervasive? What can be done to prevent it? What will work and who is responsible for making sure it happens? Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsbility, a joint report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, addresses these questions and proposes a new way to combat underage alcohol use. It explores the ways in which may different individuals and groups contribute to the problem and how they can be enlisted to prevent it.

The report says that reducing underage drinking requires a cooperative effort from all levels of government, alcohol manufacturers and retailers, the entertainment industry, parents and other adults in a community. The report proposes a comprehensive strategy to curb underage drinking, a problem that costs the nation an estimated $53 billion annually, due in part to losses stemming from traffic fatalities and violent crime.
Source: books.nap.edu/catalog/10729.html

National Acadamies Press
Advisors to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street NW
Lockbox 285
Washington,DC 20055
Phone: 888.624.8373
Website: www.nap.edu/
Source: www.jointogether.org/resources/reducing-underage-drinking.html

Model Ordinances to Reduce the Supply of Alcohol to Youth Under Age 21


This online resource outlines model ordinances that help reduce social access to alcohol, encourage responsible selling and serving, and help improve the social environment.

Ordinances include:

Source: www.epi.umn.edu/alcohol/local/index.shtm

 

Alcohol Epidemiology Program
University of Minnesota
1300 South Second Street, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Phone: 612.626.9070
Website: www.epi.umn.edu/alcohol/

Source: www.jointogether.org/resources/model-ordinances-to-reduce-of.html

Alcoholic Content of Some Energy Drinks

Brand Name

Company

% Alc/Vol

Charge High Gravity

Charge Beverages, La Crosse, WI

11.0

Dragon Joose

United Brands, La Croose, WI

9.9

Four Loko Uva (purple)

Drink Four Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

12.0

Four Loko Uva (fruit punch)

Drink Four Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

12.0

Hard Wired X

Hard Wired Brewing, LaCrosse, WI

6.9

Liquid Charge

Charge Beverage, Rochester, NY

6.9

Liquid Core

Charge Beverage, Cold Springs, MN

6.9

Rock Star 21 *

Rockstar Brewing, LaCrosse, WI

6.0

Rockstar Twenty-One *

Rockstar Brewing, LaCrosse, WI

6.0

Rockstar Twenty-One Light *

Rockstar Brewing, LaCrosse, WI

6.0

Mickey's Stinger

Mickey's Brewing, Milwaukee, WI

6.0

Sparks *

Steel Brewing, Milwaukee, WI

6.0

Sparks Light *

Steel Brewing, Milwaukee, WI

6.0

Sparks Plus *

Steel Brewing, Milwaukee, WI

7.0

Tilt (orange label) *

Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, MO

6.6

Tilt (green label) *

Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, MO

8.0
* We understand that energy ingredients have been removed

Caffeine, Taurine, Alcohol and Wormwood? Superstrong Four Malt Liquor


Wormwood is the thing that makes Absinthe, the supposedly hallucinogenic wine-like alcohol so fantastic. This substance itself is legal in the United States, even though Absinthe itself is not legal here. Wormwood is also the extract that is the special ingredient in a new malt energy drink. Four maxed is also the strongest of all the caffeinated alcoholic malt beverages I have ever tried - coming in at a whopping 12 percent alcohol. Although this was not the same as dropping a couple tabs of windowpane, if you can handle the first 3 or four swallows of this drink you can definitely feel the effects of this drink and will leave you buzzed in a number of special ways. Wormwood is supposedly an aphrodisiac, so like many other energy drinks with mysterious sexy ingredients, they are touting this as a sexual enhancer to help you going.

The interesting thing about this drink is that the alcoholic content may actually lose some inhibitions, as alcohol tends to do. Like Shakespeare says, liquor " helps you stand to, but not stand to - it provokes the desire, although it takes away from the performance..." The caffeine can counterbalance this though, helping you not only get frisky, but give you the energy to do something about it.

Four Loko is not available everywhere yet, but consider yourself lucky if you can get hold of it. I found mine while traveling through Arizona, and it is available in 16 other states, (Editor: Including Oregon) mainly in the Midwest US. With all the new lawsuits and controversy surrounding energy malt drinks, they might have a harder time getting this into other markets.

Taste - 6

Much like Sparks, Four takes some getting used to - it is not an easy drink to slam. (Editor: Sparks and Tilt were in 16 ounce cans, Four Loko is 23.5 ounces) But unlike Sparks or Tilt, (Editor: which no longer have energy ingredients) this one is very unique, tasting like grape - and comes in a dark purple hue. It is definitely malt-y, which works very strangely with the bitterness and sourness of the energy ingredients. Unfortunately, the drink comes out very bitter, and although I found it easier to drink once I drained the first can (of course, every malt liquor tastes better the more cans you have) that does not make this flavor taste any better - just easier to get down.

Packaging - 8

"big enough to get the job done right," according to its Web site, drinkfour.com. This is the standard 16oz can, and certainly enough figuring the alcoholic content. Surprisingly, there is no " THIS IS AN ANCOHOLIC BEVERAGE TO DONT SELL IT TO KIDS" print on here - just 2 small "We ID" badges and the government warning on alcohol. "Some people, I guess, call them energy drinks, and maybe that's where the confusion is created," Hunter said. "We take extra precautions to make sure that they know that these are alcoholic drinks." Not that much - but As long as the FDA does not give them a hard time, I certainly think the drink look better without it.

Arriving in a deep blue and white can, while not exceptional, it is still a very pretty can. It stands out from the other malt liquors out there, and looks wildly different from Tilt, Sparks and all the rest. (Editor: Except Dragon Joose which has the same colors, similar design, and packs 9.9% alcohol in a 23.5 ounce can.) I like the cleanness of the can, reminding me of the drinks put out by Socko. They also double label it so it will be easier to find if the convenience store clerk knocked one too many of these back before his shift and puts the cans in all screwy. Only real issues I see is there is no listing of any ingredients on here - which although not needed for alcoholic drinks, it would be nice to get an accurate caffeine count.

I get the name, Four, to be that there is Caffeine , Taurine, Alcohol and wormwood oil - although I can't be sure. Maybe they are in the camp that think that guarana is not caffeine so it can be a separate ingredient.

Buzz - 8

Thujone is what wormwood has that makes it so fun, and is an extract with is sadly not found in Four. It can't be - thujone is illegal to sell in the US everywhere - even in Arizona - where rules about holidays and time don't apply. Four uses an FDA certified wormwood oil which is thujone free. It's just labeled "wormwood oil", so no idea what kind of wormwood or from where it came.

So this won't make you get tripping - but it will make you drunk - and while the caffeine is not overpowering, it will give you enough alertness to counteract the droopiness a heavy malt drink would normally give. After drinking a couple of these you will definitely have enough energy for a couple hours - but not enough to keep you up way past your bedtime. My guess is there is about 75-100mg per entire can, so it may not have as much caffeine as Red Bull, but the added 10% alcohol would help.

Website - 8

drinkfour.com

The flash is really nice here - carrying a lovely and unique style throughout. The way things flip up works well, and the categories are different, but work pretty well. I enjoy the tab design, and like that if you hate the music or are at work you can find the off button easily. Sure - it is very silly, but there is nothing wrong with some of that as long as you remember to put info on the drinks, the company, and actual information too. The behind the scenes code is nice too, knowing how to make a small flash call on a page and have it look nice.
Source: www.examiner.com/x-281-Caffeine-Examiner~y2008m8d14-Caffeine-Taurine-Alcohol-and-Wormwood-Superstrong--Four-Malt-Liquor

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