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Giving beer a ‘spyke’ of flavor

Imagine getting buzzed off of one drink. Hard liquor can be expensive, so many college students drink beer, a cheaper alternative. Anheuser-Busch may have a compromise with Spykes.

Coming in an array of brightly hued 2-ounce bottles, Spykes flavors and colors beer. It’s available in four flavors: Spicy Mango, Hot Melon, Spicy Lime and Hot Chocolate. In addition to adding nontraditional flavors to the average beer, it also causes a jump in alcohol content: Each 2-ounce bottle of Spykes is 12 percent alcohol by volume, so it packs a slightly harder punch.

A Gameworks bartender who wished to remain anonymous said Spykes has been pretty popular with girls. The catch is they don’t realize just how much alcohol they are consuming. They’ll sit there drinking three or four beers with Spykes in it and become more intoxicated than they realize.

Ybor City clubs probably offer the best places to order Spykes, as most places around campus have never heard of the product. Most of the patrons of the University Area Hangout Bar thought Spykes was an energy beer, and the bartenders hadn’t heard of the product.

Peter Ouellette, a customer at the UA Hangout was interested in trying the product, though he said the thought of Hot Chocolate flavored beer was disgusting.”I’d try it, but beer is beer,” Ouellette said. “If it tastes good, that’d be cool.”

Dave Wilson, a bartender at Bennigan’s on Fowler Avenue, said he first heard of Spykes at Sea World’s Discovery Cove, an Orlando park known for affording patrons an opportunity to swim with dolphins.”It’s a Bud(weiser) park, and you can try all of their products for free,” Wilson said.

TJ Goodman, a bartender at T.G.I. Friday’s on Fowler had the most insight on Spykes, though the restaurant does not sell the product. He recently worked for Anheuser-Busch competitor Miller as a beer distributor.

“Spykes was never meant to be added to beer,” he said.

Initially it was supposed to be a shooter or something one could add to an energy drink. According to Goodman, both Anheuser-Busch and Miller are looking for ways to break into the hard liquor market because of the downturn in beer shares.

Miller also expressed concern about the mixing of Spykes with beer. “Soon (Anheuser-Busch will) have to take responsibility … the same thing happened with Cisco.”

Cisco is the brand name for a product line of cheap, high-alcohol fortified wines produced by the Canandaigua Wine Company. The Federal Trade Commission butted heads with the company over the branding and marketing of Cisco, eventually forcing Canandaigua to change Cisco’s labeling and slogan, “Takes You By Surprise.”

Only time will tell whether Spykes becomes a hit with college students.