Back when the Vodka Redbull’s popularity reached fever pitch in American nightclubs in the early aughts, beer brands were jonesing to recapture the 20-something-year-olds they had lost to the blossoming cocktail culture. So, in January of 2005, Budweiser released a beverage that it probably prefers the world forget about.
That product was Budweiser Extra, also known as B to the E, and it was a first-of-its-kind caffeinated beer. Rather than make a malt beverage and flavor it like Phusion Projects did with Four Loko, Extra simply supercharged the Budweiser pilsner base with guarana, ginseng, 54 milligrams of caffeine, and a few other mysterious energy-infused giblets. It came in a slim, 10-ounce can with curvy red and white color blocking, making it look like the can was wearing a wrestling singlet. And by most accounts, it tasted terrible.
The advertising was equally sketchy. The debut ad read, “You can go home early when you’re married,” only to be upstaged by the male-enhancement-tinged “Go longer” slogan at the bottom of the campaign’s posters. The whole thing reeked of high school-aged masculinity.
The “beer with something extra” didn’t benefit from its name, either. Instead of going for something straightforward like the aforementioned “Budweiser Extra,” they pushed “B to the E” as the official name, making anyone who ordered it sound like they’re mid-freestyle rap. Despite everything, B to the E did well enough in the United States for Anheuser-Busch to tap into the U.K. market with its newfangled suds. However, marketing efforts were minimal, and by late July in 2006, B to the E was discontinued across the pond when the product failed to meet sales expectations.
A few months after Bud Extra’s initial release, Anheuser-Busch unveiled Tilt, a caffeinated malt beverage that came in a variety of flavor options, all packing 10 to 12 percent ABV depending on the flavor. Arguably a more volatile menace to society than Bud Extra, Tilt had a leg up on the “energy beer” since it tasted more like a tasty Four Loko than a pilsner with herbs in it. However, it still was bad enough to receive a crippling 2.35 out of 5 score on Untappd. Ultimately, Tilt didn’t last long, either. By summer 2008, B to the E had been discontinued and Tilt was reformulated without alcohol, in part because Anheuser-Busch was facing backlash for directing advertisements to consumers under the age of 21. At some point in the early 2010s, AB ceased production of Tilt altogether.
None of this, though, dissuaded AB from launching a straight-up NA energy drink as an India exclusive in 2021. Budweiser Beats, with natural caffeine and B vitamins, is now advertised as “the first energy drink from the house of Budweiser.”
Hopefully this launch can “go longer.”