It’s a theme that I’ve returned to a few times of late, what with distillers who couldn’t confine themselves to crappy sweetened distilled alcoholic beverages, deciding they would be better off making flavourless beer and then adding sugar and raspberry flavourings to it so they could sell the same tasting slop but cheaper. (It was obviously mature and responsible adults that they were targeting these sweet, fizzy alcopops to.) Of course, this just meant that the Federal Government changed the definition of beer to stop the practice and in doing so made it difficult for centuries-old styles of beers – ones that aren’t sweet or ‘sessionable’ – to be brewed.
(And to deviate from that theme for just a minute, it may be an old-fashioned view, but shouldn’t taste like the source from which it is derived? Shouldn’t wine taste of grapes? Beer of malt, hops and yeast? Once you get to the stage that you’re just making alcohol in the cheapest possible way and masking the flavour to make it easy to drink – you’re not drinking, you’re just consuming alcohol. The marketers can put it in fancy bottles and call it ‘Something-Something Platinum’ but it is just flavoured alcohol. While the advertising and marketing of these things portrays attractive 20-somethings in a chic nightclub being sophisticated, the reality is it should be a vagrant in an alley drinking metho and milk – because the approach to drinking is just the same: “I don’t care where my alcohol is from and what it tastes like, I’ll just mask the taste and drink as much as I can for the effect it brings.” But I digress…)
Another example is what’s recently happened in the States where the Federal Drug Administration has sent letters to 30 manufacturers of alcoholic beverages with caffeine in them asking them to prove that the combination is ‘Generally Regarded As Safe’. There is plenty of discussion of the issue on many of the US beer writers’ sites – as usual Jay Brooks has one of the best round ups – but the upshot is there is a risk that caffeine can be banned in alcoholic beverages. Now, when some of the drinks covered by the FDA letters include such classy beverages as Liquid Charge, 3Sum, 3AM Vodka, Vicious Vodka with Caffeine and Slingshot Party Gel, I can understand why they come under the scrutiny of the government. But as always the government would impose a blanket ban rather than just dealing with the problem ones and so because a couple of hyperactive kids with sticks who don’t know when to stop whack kids in the heads with sticks until they cry, there is a risk our parents will ban the rest of us from having fun recreating Star Wars light sabre fights with sticks too.
Now, if the logic is applied in Australia, Meantime Coffee Porter (there aren’t many locally made versions, though Brad Rogers did Crema while he was at Matilda Bay) – which is definitely a one-beer-a-night-with-a-nice-dessert beer could be banned all because of a we-put-caffeine-and-guarana-in-a-vodka-drink-cos-the-kiddies-think-they’re-cool-and-can-stay-up-all-night-drinking-them drink.
Coffee and porter or stout are an almost perfect combination – blended together for flavour not for effect, but we could lose them because some kids just don’t know how to play right and take it too far.