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Flavor Flav(ored) beer in a can

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Beer lovers like myself have long enjoyed their brews chelada style: beer with a squeeze of lime or lemon and a pinch of salt, or merging an ice-cold ale with a healthy pour of tomato juice. Miller Brewing Company and Anheuser-Busch must have decided we mixers were working too hard slicing citrus or opening a can of V8 on our own, because they've come out with products in which the fruit and juice are already in the can. Fearless as we are, the BW editorial staff put these combinations to the test to see if they could stand up to our picky palates.

Miller's chelada-style Chill is, according to the label, "inspired by a Mexican recipe with lime and salt." It also states that it's a "light beer with natural flavor" but the sweet taste had us wondering if some of the "natural flavor" came from plain old sugar. One staffer compared the flavor to 7-Up and another claimed, "It tastes like a hoppy Sprite."

Staying with the lime-enhanced line of beers, we tasted Bud Light Lime. Its label reads "... with 100 percent natural lime flavor." It definitely offered a more authentic citrus flavor, but was still sweet enough that we wondered if we would soon hear "Hey, Kool-Aid" just before a giant walking, smiling pitcher broke through our conference room wall.

Next on our list was a 24-ounce Budweiser and Clamato and a 24-ounce Bud Light and Clamato, both "with salt and lime." (We couldn't find smaller cans.) Clamato has been around for a long time and using it as a cocktail mixer is nothing new. But it's still clam juice, the term alone conjures up unappetizing imagery. Several staffers were hesitant to try it, agreeing only in the name of science and because of the Busch dynasty's attempt at a little diversity by making the labels bilingual. Down to a person, the group was sorry they'd given in. Sadly, we couldn't get the idea of clam juice out of our minds or out of our mouths. I even suggested a "suicide"... no, not a death pact among the group—though some of us would have welcomed unconsciousness at that point—but mixing the lime beer with the Clamato beer to see if the sweetness of the former might tone down the odd saltiness of the latter. Unfortunately, what we got was a fruity-shellfish mix that couldn't have found a home on even the most progressive fusion cocktail menu.

On a side note, Busch's Michelob Ultra has a new line of fruit-infused beers in pomegranate-raspberry, Tuscan orange-grapefruit and lime-cactus. We wanted to add these to our taste test, but trips to Fred Meyer, Albertsons and several beer-and-tobacco purveyors yielded no results. A representative at Stein distributing said currently in this market, the raspberry-pomegranate is available in some niche stores and the lime-cactus flavor is only available at Wal-Mart. Since we had already partaken, albeit lightly, of a quartet of beers, we figured it best if we didn't drive.

Our verdict? We might have enjoyed the beer and lime combos if they'd been more acidic and less sweet. And, unfortunately, all the salt and lime in the world wouldn't be enough to make us finish off a tallboy of Bud and Clamato.

—Amy Atkins

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