Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Keep Your Laws Off My Cappuccino Stout!

Assemblyman Jim Beall (D-San Jose) is normally somebody I really like. He's a great, honest guy, who actually cares about the community. Both now, in the state legislature, and earlier, on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, he's been a friend and advocate of the nonprofit community in which I work. But, Jim, if you're reading this, now you've pissed me off.

Assemblyman Beall has introduced legislation to ban caffeine in malt beverages (IE: Beer). The target product, it seems, is this:
...sweet malt beverages known as "alcopops," which often mask the flavor of alcohol and tend to be marketed to younger drinkers. ... many of these products come in 23-ounce cans that contain the equivalent of five to eight cups of coffee, are 12 percent alcohol and are sold for $1.99. A regular energy drink, by contrast, can cost $2.99...
Personally, I've never heard of these before, but I can see why it would be an issue. But there's a couple of problems with attempting a ban.

First of all, the products are likely just a response to consumers who were already mixing energy drinks with vodka. Those who want a "buzz-drunk" will continue to do that, whether or not the pre-mixed version is on market shelves. This could be yet another law that will have absolutely no effect on the actual situation: those who market alcohol to under-age drinkers and lack of public knowledge of the dangers of the buzz-drunk.

Secondly, and what's really got me worried, is in trying to remove a few products aimed at under-aged drinkers, they could accidentally ensnare and ban legitimate adult products, such as ales, porters, and stouts enfused with coffee or chocolate.

According to the article, "Beall said he is working with beer lovers to make sure they can still enjoy brews such as the Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma." Well, I hope so! I love that brewery, and their product. But, somehow, I'm nervous that this bill can be written broadly enough to target all offending products, but narrow enough to keep Lagunitas and other creative craft brewers in the clear. It seems that whatever loophole is written in to save craft brews will be exploited by those market to kids.

Aren't there already laws against marketing booze to minors? Whether it's the manufacture who promotes the product to kids or the retailer or bartender who sells it, we have the tools to crack down on wired drunk adolescents already. Let's use these resources to get rid of the "alcopop crisis" and leave the craft brews alone!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of these alcopops, but the Cappuccino Stout sounds like a wonderful brew. I used to be quite a fan of Irish Coffee... in the morning. Ok. I had a problem, but it was tasty. A little whipped cream on top.


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