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Bartender, Pour Me Another Cup

At first, beer with caffeine sounds like a terrific idea. With caffeine in your beer, you can stay awake longer and do many delightful things, such as drink more beer. It's a beer-drinker's vision of heaven. Homer Simpson would love it. Kallman certainly does.

"It's a wonderful feeling," she says. "Sometimes beer makes you sleepy or sluggish, but with Moonshot, you feel alert. You can go out and dance and have fun instead of falling asleep on the couch."

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Alas, there is a potential downside to this great breakthrough. Drinking too much beer sometimes makes people do stupid things, such as fighting with strangers. Or sleeping with strangers. Or calling your ex-girlfriend at 3 in the morning to tearfully beg her to come back -- a supplication frequently accompanied by a dubious promise to stop drinking.

Until now, beer guzzling was a self-regulating activity. Sure, drinking too much made you do stupid things. But drinking too much also tended to make you fall asleep before you got into trouble. Passing out is nature's way of saying you drank too much, and it has saved many a beer drinker from acute embarrassment. But with caffeine keeping beer drinkers cranked up, there's no end to the fun. Which could get ugly.

Roepke says she's not worried about this. "We at Anheuser-Busch encourage our adult consumers to use all our products in moderation," she says. "We market B{+E} to today's contemporary adults, and they've told us that they want something to help them keep up with their fast-paced and highly social lifestyle. If they stay out late having fun with their friends and do it responsibly, we'll be very happy."

Moonshot's Kallman agrees. "If you tend to do stupid things, you probably shouldn't drink it," she says. "It's not for stupid people."

One of Moonshot's satisfied customers put it best in an e-mail to the company, Kallman says. "I just want to let you know," the customer wrote, "that I'm drunk but I'm not in a stupor."

Drunk -- but not in a stupor. If these new brews catch on, that could be the beer slogan for our fully caffeinated new millennium.


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