The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 03.22.05


Beer with added caffeine - not just another breakfast beverage, eh?

Let's face facts. Humans have been programmed to consume and we are now no more than a bunch of Borg who will eat and drink any new thing that comes our way if it is marketed aggressively. We are programmed to receive, so to speak.

Just witness the array of food items available that we really don't need and probably didn't even know we wanted.

Coke classic became the new Coke and Kraft dinner became the new Kraft dinner touting an extra creamy and cheesy flavor. To make matters worse this version uses shells instead of macaroni. Enough already…

This week marks the arrival of yet another glaring example of creative marketing and food tampering and the newest culprit on the block stands to convert our youth into the hyper- wasted.

Beer makers have been working hard to retain and ensure a steady clientele of future beer drinkers and they have concocted a recipe to do just that.

Its no longer good enough to sell beer to college-bound dupes using sex as weapon. No, beer manufacturers have decided that using a combination of sex and caffeine to sell beer just might be better

The problem is, they are probably right and Spring Break will never be the same.

A potent mix of caffeine, beer, and testosterone is about to explode on the scene and I predict many negative side effects. Regular beer has an effect of delivering an initial high and surge of energy that is usually followed by a "down" and tired feeling.

This is the body's way of telling you to cool it and that you have had enough. Keep on drinking and you'll pass out if all the teen angst movies are accurate in their portrayals.

What effect will caffeine in beer have on nature's way of curbing our consumption? Clearly, it will have the opposite effect. You'll inexplicably want more and the beer makers will be more than happy to quench your thirst.

Call me Fuddy Duddy but I suggest that the inclusion of caffeine in beer is an irresponsible move as it is primarily targeting youth.

Molson Vice president Gino Cantalini says " Molson Kick truly is an innovation in beer" and that the inclusion of Guarana is one more way to offer innovation and variety to beer drinkers."

Touted as a natural source of caffeine, Guarana is purported to have mystical origins and supernatural powers with aphrodisiac potential -- according to some.

Simple Google research revealed controversy and enough concern to support my opinion.

Get this: Health Canada prevented Pepsi - the makers of Mountain Dew - from adding caffeine to that beverage a few years ago. The idea was that too much caffeine is bad for you and that it should only be in drinks where we know to expect it, like coffee, tea, and cola drinks.

There aren't a lot of Guarana experts in North America but Terry Walker is one. He's an associate professor of Bioprocess Engineering at Clemson University in South Carolina.

"The extracts that come from Guarana can get up to two to three times the amount of caffeine that coffee has," Walker told Marketplace. "It's the richest-known source of caffeine known at this point."

Guru is one of the hottest selling energy drinks in Canada. The company is based in Montreal and it cut a distribution deal with Molson Quebec some two years ago.

How beer manufacturers have designed methods to satisfy Health Canada concerns is perplexing and we can only hope that this latest addition of a controversial herbal ingredient such as Guarana does not prove errant.

Is this a recipe for disaster?