Alcohol energy drink RTD’s are almost impossible to find these days since, for the most part, they have been forced off the market by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other governing bodies. They originally became popular in the second half of the last decade, but by 2010 warning letters were sent out by the FDA and these alcohol and caffeine beverages began to disappear. Some have simply changed their formulation to no longer contain caffeine, such as Four Loko, while others have ceased production. Caffeine and alcohol RTD beverages may still be available in some other countries, but they are pretty much non-existent in the USA. The only way you will find a beverage that has alcohol and caffeine combined RTD is if you choose a craft beer. Mate Vesa is one such beer made with yerba mate for natural caffeine.
What about Coffee Stouts and Porters?
Craft beers that are made with coffee would have some caffeine but this would vary depending on how much coffee is used in the brew. Beeradvocate.com did a good job of highlighting how this type of beer can be widely different. Here’s what they found:
- Cappuccino Strout by Lagunitas BC: about 75 mg per 22 fl oz.
- LuvBuzz Espresso Stout by Cambridge BC: about 60 mg per 16 fl oz
- Pipeline Porter by Kona BC: about 2 mg per 12 fl oz bottle.
- Perkulator Coffee Doppelbock by Dark Horse BC: 65-81 mg of caffeine per 16 fl oz.
These would be far from being called energy drinks, though, and because coffee is used as a natural flavoring, do not have to follow the guidelines set forth by the FDA.
Mixed Drinks Using Alcohol and Energy Drinks Dangers
Red bull’s claim to fame was not because of those seeking a pure caffeine rush, but rather their ingenious marketing to the bartending industry. “Vodka Red Bull” quickly became the go-to cocktail among party goers who wanted to be able to party longer and since then, there have been all kinds of drinks invented with other energy drink brands trying to get their piece of the pie. A study out of Wake Forest Medical Center has been looking into this energy drink mixed with alcohol fad in order to see what negative effects it has created. The study revealed the following;
- Students who drank the mix were likely to become more intoxicated and become intoxicated twice as often.
- Students were twice as likely to be injured on this concoction.
- They were twice as likely to ride with a drunken driver.
- They were also twice as likely to be taken advantage of sexually or take advantage of someone else.
The researchers believe that the high doses of caffeine mask your body’s natural ways of letting you know you’ve consumed too much alcohol; therefore, people tend to drink way more than they should. Another research study out of Australia also found that mixing caffeine with alcohol gives people the urge to drink more than those who drink just straight alcohol. This can lead to over-intoxication and risk for alcohol poisoning.
Mixing energy drinks and alcohol also increases rates of drunk driving. A recent study found that of those who consumed both caffeine and alcohol were more likely to still get behind the wheel than those who just consumed alcohol alone. Those that combine also were more likely to ride as a passenger with someone who was drunk. Cases of teen alcohol abuse are bad enough, but incidents of teens mixing alcohol and other stimulants such as energy drinks make things worse. This really was clever marketing on Red Bull’s behalf, and I can see why the alcohol industry was quick to embrace it. If you can somehow bypass the body’s natural defense mechanisms concerning alcohol tolerance, then you can increase your bar sales by almost double. It will be interesting to see how long this type of alcohol and energy hybrid will avoid FDA scrutiny.