Marketing beer in present-day America involves psychological studies, multi-million dollar commercials, taste-testing, and tightly conducted surveys. In the not-so-long-ago-days-of-yester year, hundreds of brands abounded, many with a now seemingly quaint, if not downright strange approach at appealing to beer drinkers.
Here are some strange examples of Brew-ski Obscura Americana:
Schlitz Sunshine Vitamin D Beer: In the 1920’s, chemists discovered Vitamin D, a vital chemical produced by our skin when exposed to sunlight, and a key component in warding off rickets. Schlitz jumped on the Vitariffic band wagon in the 1930’s with Schlitz Sunshine Vitamin D beer. Why lay in the sun to get your Vitamin D, when you can lie in the shade with an ice-cold D enriched beer? Of course we know today that Vitamin enriched alcoholic beverages are not on the doctor recommended list of healthy alternatives, and dairy manufacturers, with the blessings of the FDA, wisely enriched milk instead.
Old Frothingslosh: One of the more unique brands of beer has been Pittsburgh Brewing’s Olde Frothingslosh. It was invented as a joke by Pittsburgh radio station KDKA’s Rege Cordic in the early 1950s. The local brewer picked up the idea as a humorous Christmastime promotion and “the pale stale ale”, with a featured glamorous fat lady on the label, ended up as the inspiration for about 30 different beer cans, most created specifically for collectors.
Piss Beer: Yes, Piss beer! Finally playing to the somewhat tasteless realization that beer is a fully recyclable product, a Melbourne, Australia mini brewer created Piss Beer in 1998. According to the manufacturer, “Aussies have been on the piss, getting pissed, drinking piss, drinking more piss and, most definitely, taking the piss for the past two hundred years. The amazing thing is none of us thought to bottle it earlier. (Too busy getting pissed, probably.) ”
Don’t believe it? Google it!
Billy Beer: Brewed in the namesake of Billy Carter, former president Jimmy Carter’s rather irksome brother, Billy Beer made its debut in the late 1970’s, and sky rocketed to prominence by selling in classified ads for as much as 600 dollars a six pack. The value eventually plummeted to 25 cents a can shortly after, although Billy Beer remains a curio and sells even today on E-Bay for as much as 100 dollars a can.
Anheuser-Bush B-to-the-E beer: A modern day oddity, and a real life incarnation of Drew Carey’s famous “Buzz Beer”, B-to-the-E, according to the manufacturer, “Contemporary adults thirst for variety and what’s new, and our B-to-the-E delivers a beverage that is true to their lifestyles and range of drinking occasions. Our new B-to-the-E provides caffeine, guarana, and ginseng in a great tasting beer.”
Packaged in 10 oz cans instead of the usual 12, and with a hefty price tag to boot, B-to-the E follows in the footsteps of ‘Red Bull’ where less is more, a lot more, $$ that is.
Cave Creek Chili Beer: Perhaps one of the most disgusting beers to hit the market, “Crazy Ed’s Original” Chili Beer is brewed by Black Mountain Brewing Company in Cave Creek, Arizona, by Crazy Ed Chillen, and known globally for their beer with a Serrano chili pepper in every bottle. I have tried this beer and found it peppery to the point of fiery undrinkability. Two tips: keep a regular beer close at hand as a chaser, and never drink straight from the bottle, as the pepper inside will shoot straight down your throat, as it is smaller in diameter than the bottle mouth. Heimlich maneuvers and hot sauce are a deadly mix.
Rauchbier: Literally “smoked beer” in German, Rauchbier is a remnant of old brewing methods and the old country belief that Nitrate packed smoke is good for your digestion. Rauchbier malt is suspended above smoldering fires that dry the malt and impart a heavy smoky flavor on the grain that transfers to the finished beer. The beer has a strong smoky flavor and taste that may agree to some palates, but the health benefits of drinking liquid smoke is probably questionable. Rauchbier is made in many countries, and examples can be found by Googling ‘Rauchbier’ for more info.
Sam Adams Chocolate Bock: Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker, right? Why not combine the best of both worlds? Get lucky the easy way with Sam Adams chocolate flavored bock. Released as a limited Valentines day edition, according to Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch, “Beer and chocolate are two pleasures that should be enjoyed and savored. We knew that we were up to the challenge to create an unexpected brew that could perfectly complement a Valentine’s Day meal or be given as a special gift.” The flavor described as “a big, malty character with a complex full-body taster and velvety finish”, and it darn well better be for the cost, about 14.99 for a champagne sized 750 ml bottle.
And thus art imitates beer, or beer imitates life, or…err..enjoy!