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Written by Heather Rogers

Do you REALLY know what you are drinking?

Alcohol is a depressant. The term “alcoholic energy drink” is an oxymoron. There is a large body of research showing that drunk person plus caffeine still equals drunk person.

That being said, a number of brewers have been jumping in on the action. That lucrative energy drink market is just too tempting.

In many ways it’s a similar situation to the “hardcore” energy drinks. It’s all about marketing -and many of these drinks look just like a typical energy drink (and apparently fool store clerks too).

Virtually all of them are “infused with caffeine, ginseng and guarana” and are 6-12% alcoholic by volume.

Three-Point Plan for Targeting Youth

  1. Create brand confusion with nonalcoholic versions 
  2. Provide a cheap alternative to mixing energy drinks with alcohol 
  3. Deploy youth-friendly grassroots and viral marketing 

The Exploding popularity of Energy Drinks

  • 500 new energy drink products introduced worldwide in 2006 
  • Energy drink sales = $3.2 billion 
  • 31 percent of 12-to 17-year-olds are regular consumers v. 22 percent of 25-to 34-year-olds 

*Tilt is an energy drink, containing alcohol. It is marketed as a “Premium Malt Beverage”. Its active ingredients include caffeine, ginseng, and Guarana. Its alcoholic content by volume varies, from 6.6 in the berry flavor and up to 8% in the lemon lime, higher than most American beer (commonly 3-6%), and slightly higher than competitor Sparks (7% maximum). 

*Joose is an alcoholic energy drink and is growing in popularity due to its relatively high alcohol content (9.0-9.9% ABV) compared with other beverages generally available at a convenience store such as beer (typically 5-6% ABV) and other alcoholic energy drinks (typically 8% ABV).

Joose is comprised of malt beverage, caffeine, taurine, ginseng, and natural coloring. Joose is currently available in 23.5 oz 

*Sparks is a caffeinated alcohol beverage, one of the first such beverages. Its active ingredients caffeine, taurine, and ginseng are common to energy drinks; however, its additional focus on alcohol is not. Its packaging states a 6% alcoholic content by volume. Sparks currently is available in 16oz silver cans with bright orange tops, with a “+” printed near the top and a “-” printed near the bottom, to give the can a battery-like appearance. A diet version “Sparks Light” with a bright blue top is also produced. A higher alcohol version (7.0%) called “Sparks Plus” is available in both 16oz and 24oz cans and has a black top.

*3SUM is an Alcopop “infused” with the energy components caffeine, ginseng, and taurine. 3SUM is considered an energy drink and a flavored alcoholic beverage. 3SUM is available in 4 different flavors: original, apple, tropical, and watermelon 

*Four is a 16oz canned alcoholic malt beverage sold in the United States and produced by Phusion Projects Inc. of Chicago. It contains 6.0%ABVas well as carbonation, sugar and artificial flavoring, like other alcopops. Its name is derived from its four other ingredients, caffeine, taurine, guarana, and FDA approved wormwood oil, the species of which is unknown.

*Rockstar has two varieties that are sold both having an alcohol content of 6.9% by volume.