The Future of Moonshot?

Nothing has divided Beer Wars viewers more than Rhonda and Moonshot. Reactions are very black and white. Some see Moonshot as a “gimmick” and a “marketing ploy” and others see Rhonda as a trailblazer who has a right to see her beer succeed.

Unfortunately, Moonshot’s future has been cut short by the FDA who lumped it together with Four Loko and others and forced it off the market.

Rhonda has put out an appeal to get Americans to “lobby” for her right to sell Moonshot. Whether Moonshot appeals to you or not, the bigger question is whether Moonshot was caught up in the wrong net.

Here is the appeal in Rhonda’s own words:

Moonshot ’69
January 31, 2011
Dear Friend,
As you may already know, New Century Brewing Company has ceased production of Moonshot ’69 per order of the federal Food and Drug Administration. Please help me bring it back by signing the on-line petition at www.moonshotbeer.com. Additionally, you can stay up to date by visiting the Facebook page or following on Twitter.

On November 17, 2010, the FDA sent warning letters to four brewers that produced caffeinated malt beverages. By that time, three of the companies were notorious for their high-caffeine, high-alcohol, high-sugar, fruit flavored “energy drinks” which were sold in oversized cans and marketed to minors. The fourth company was New Century Brewing.

Moonshot, my all malt, craft-brewed pilsner, bears absolutely no resemblance to the products that brought about the FDA’s demand to reformulate. I stand by my product’s formula which includes a standard 5% alcohol by volume and 69 milligrams of caffeine (which equals about a half a cup of coffee). I also stand behind my marketing strategy and take pride in the responsibility of my loyal customers.

The practice of enjoying alcohol and caffeine together is nothing new (Irish coffee, rum and Coke, Red Bull and Vodka, coffee stout…), but the abuse of the law by some brewers is a legitimate concern. It is imperative, therefore, to find an acceptable level of caffeine that all beer producers can adhere to.

If you want to read more, here are recent articles from the Boston Globe and the Washington Examiner.

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6 Responses to “The Future of Moonshot?”

  1. Jim Crute says:

    My personal opinion is that if you are adding caffeine to beer at levels above what is normally seen in coffee stouts and the like it is a dicey game. Without knowing what those numbers are, I can’t really say what the upper limit on exogenous caffeine added to beer should be, and maybe Ms. Kallman should educate us further on the subject. If those numbers are the same, who cares. If 69 mg/serving is much higher, there is likely a problem. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Patrick says:

    Why should there be any net at all? If the FDA must insist to put warning labels on such products so be it, but this the nanny state protecting the imbeciles.

    Rhonda should be able to sell her product if people want it. So should Four Loko. Just because a product may be bad (in taste) and an imbecile may abuse it (because they are stupid) does not mean it shouldn’t exist.

    The bigger problem with Four Loko is not its existence, but that people were attracted to it in the first place.

  3. Brian says:

    “Why should there be any net at all?”

    Bingo. Thank you, Patrick.

  4. Paul says:

    I have always loved craft beers in fact my two favorites are Boston Lager and Anchor Steam.

    I have never tried Moonshot as I just recently saw mention of the beer and Rhonda in the movie Beer Wars. I am not sure of all of the facts on caffine levels in this brew as they relate to those of beverages that caused the gov’t to step in but it appears that there is not enough caffine in Moonshot to group it in such a category. Perhaps the gov’t should due more diligence in studying the issue before making knee jerk decisions without all the facts (what else is new!)

    Let the people decide if Moonshot should be in the market place. There is enough competioin for a start-up without some silly G-men getting involved.

    Best of luck to you Rhonda!

  5. Graham Anderson says:

    The real issue is not Four Loko or Moonshot — the concern would be if quality beers like coffee stouts are forced off of shelves and taps.

    Moonshot, unfortunately, does not taste very good, and the opinion is not just mine — it gets an F on Beer Advocate and a 10 out of 100 on RateBeer. If the beer isn’t brewed for its flavor, then what else is its purpose? The word “gimmick” is harsh, but aptly describes something with little inherent value outside of its narrow niche, which in this case is the combination of caffeine and alcohol.

    The premise of Beer Wars, to document the little guys in the beer industry, is tested by Moonshot precisely because the beer is so bad. Do consumers really care about a beer being small if it doesn’t taste good? And isn’t the whole point of being small to make quality beer? Who, then, really cares about a small brewer if the beer sucks?

    Perhaps if Annette Baron drank beer, she would have known ahead of time that Moonshot doesn’t really belong in the same category as the other quality craft brewers she interviewed.

  6. Juan Carlos de Burbon says:

    You know, it was probably easier (cheaper) for Budweiser to lobby to get her off the market than to kill her category. Remember, the big 3 are about market consolidation not fragmentation.

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