What Are They Putting In Our Beer?

BE by Anheuser-Busch
BE by Anheuser-Busch

Great Kuka Maca!

A long long time ago - in the 90’s(!) – when health-enhancing, energy-inducing, nutritional supplements started sneaking their way into everything we ate and drank, there was a cable sketch comedy show that did a skit about the uber-ridiculous prospect of supplements like gingko biloba finding their way into beer. Gingko biloba was purported to boost memory and brain power and the joke in the skit was that drinking “Gingko Beer” made the drinker feel much smarter, but smarter about useless and often wrong facts. Their clever slogan was: “Don’t just think you’re smart. Drink you’re smart”.  No way could that ever really happen…

Fast forward to the early adolescent years of the 2000’s and the ridiculous became real. Breweries small and large got into the supplements trend and began pouring powders with purported powers into their brews.  Beers with ginseng, yerba mate, caffeine, kola nut, all sorts of quacksalver quaffs, started hitting the liquor store shelves and bars taps. The beer-doctoring craze got so out of control that in 2005 even Anheuser-Busch introduced BE (B-to-the-E), a super-premium beer infused with caffeine, ginseng and guarana, or, as the can said, “Beer with something extra”.

Budweiser failed at their energy beer, but many smaller brewers continued adding all sorts of things to beers.  Stampede Light Plus followed on the heels of BE with a “vitamin enhanced” beer promoted by pop star Jessica Simpson.  Their slogan “Be Smart. Drink Smart” was oddly reminiscent of that comedy sketch above.

In Wisconsin recently, BluCreek Herbal Ale, “a refreshing honey ale with a zing”, was made with ginseng, guarana and even gingko biloba. It was “Drink you’re smart” all over again.  The guarana was supposed to provide energy - and it was not hard to imagine why someone would want more energy while on a honey beer binge. But why add memory boosting gingko biloba? Who wants help remembering what was done when hopped up on guarana and honey beer?

maca root
maca root

Just when you thought there was no root left to tap, enter Kuka Andean Brewing Company, from Blauvelt, New York, by way of South America. Kuka upped the ante by adding the mysterious maca root to the mix.  Maca root is a relative of the turnip that acts as an important food staple for natives of the Andean Mountains.  But what does beer made with maca root do for you? It is reputed to improve semen quality and increase libido.  Watch out ladies!  As if barflies on the make were not aggressive enough already. Now they got maca mania and super semen powering them. Maybe Kuka should also make a companion beer infused with the morning after pill.

Have they run out of things to add to beer? What’s next?  Beer laced with Viagra?  Stout made with Bull Balls? You can’t make this stuff up.

Memory boosts, increased energy, super semen. Is this what people want from their beer?  Most people want to drink to their hearts’ content, fall asleep, forget every stupid thing they did while they were drunk and pray no one got hurt in the process. When will they make something that helps with that?

They already do. It’s called “beer.”

"With the platinum blonds, tobacco brunettes

I'll just be drinking to forget you. I light another cigarette."

- Tom Waits