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US: Monster’s much-anticipated alcoholic debut

Monster Beverage Corporation has launched The Beast Unleashed, made using “malt alcohol” and weighing in at 6% ABV.

In January 2022, Monster paid $330-million in cash to acquire CANarchy, a company that owns several breweries including Oskar Blues and Deep Ellum Brewing Company, with the view of diversifying into alcoholic beverages.

The start of this year has seen the energy drinks brand roll out its first boozy product – The Beast Unleashed – across the US, with the drink currently available in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Iowa.

Rodney Sacks, Monster’s co-CEO, said that the new drink would be available all over the US by the end of the year.

Monster describes the drink as a “hard seltzer” and revealed in August last year that it hoped it would be one of many.

“Our alcohol innovation pipeline is robust with a number of additional innovative product lines currently under development,” said Sacks. “We look forward to sharing such additional beverage products at a later date.”

The Beast Unleashed comes in four flavours, including Peach Perfect and Scary Berries, each modelled on the flavours consumers know from Monster’s original energy drinks.

Those worried about the mindboggling effect of adding alcohol to an already caffeine-laden drink (Monster Energy contains 165g of caffeine per 500ml can; the equivalent of four Espresso shots) can rest easy, as Monster claims there is zero caffeine in The Beast Unleashed.

“Our favourite brand Monster is about to turn 21. We figure why not celebrate the big day by making an adult beverage,” reads information on the product packaging.

“We hit delete on the energy blend, cut out the caffeine, and ditched the sugar. Next, we brewed up the smoothest tasting alcohol ever and blended it with our tried and true flavours.”

The launch stirs controversy

Hard Mountain Dew

In an article titled “Big Soda’s Alcohol Drinks Worry Health Experts,” The New York Times compared Beast Unleashed to another recent launch, Hard Mountain Dew.

Mountain Dew, a subsidiary of Pepsi-Cola, and Monster Energy, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, represent two sides of a well-funded coin that will be flooding the market with green-tinted alcohol drinks for years to come.

NYT writer Ted Alcorn argues that these drinks represent a worrying direction for the increasingly popular ready-to-drink beverage market. By using beloved brand names (whose offerings are readily available to children), big companies are able to pack up huge amounts of alcohol in an unsuspecting and uniquely marketable package.

“Hard Mtn Dew exemplifies these trends. It is sugar- and caffeine-free, and taps into consumers’ connection to a brand they’ve known for years. Although the new product is 5 percent alcohol by volume, a 24-ounce can contain the equivalent of two standard drinks,” said Alcorn.

Consumers are voicing the same concerns, albeit with a slightly different tone.

In a review titled “I Drank Hard Mountain Dew and Felt Like I Was Staring at God,” writer Alex Perry opened by saying, “I feel like the scientist at the beginning of a disaster movie who’s just discovered that something profoundly dangerous is hurtling towards all of us.”

Ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages have been exploding as of late; the category is even projected to outpace the popularity of hard seltzers by 2026. But as more consumers are exposed to these hybrid drinks, it’s difficult to predict where public opinion will fall.

Monster Energy
Coca-Cola’s alcololic brands.

Within the past two years, Coca-Cola has announced the debut of Simply Spiked Lemonade, Fresca Mixed, Topo Chico Ranch Water and a new slickly packaged take on Jack & Coke.

Opinions are bound to vary.

“At the very least, we think it’s fair to voice caution about an energy-branded alcohol drink that will do just about everything but give you energy,” says a commentator, Pedro Wolfe writing for tequilaraiders.com.

Source: TheDrinksBusiness, Tequilaraiders.com

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