Beer distributors report rush on Four Loko

PHILADELPHIA - November 19, 2010

That is what's happening at local beer distributors for Four Loko. The rush began as soon as word got out that the government might make it illegal.

The controversial drink blends caffeine and alcohol, a popular combo for the college crowd.

For example Rosemont Beverage, which caters to Villanova students, used to sell about 50 cases a week.

This past week, they were selling 60 cases a day.

Every day the price went higher, from about $26 a case to $32.

"They were willing to pay anything for it. They were willing to pay $40 to $50 for it," said John Michalski of Rosemont Beverage.

The rush ended abruptly Thursday morning, when wholesalers stopped shipping the stuff.

Four Loko has been called liquid cocaine, a potent combination of malt liquor and caffeine that packs a stupefying wallop.

"Well, it makes you really energized. Also, it makes you drunk so much faster than a regular beer," said student Dan Radetich. "Definitely it's a little dangerous, but the kids love it."

They apparently loved it too much. St. Joseph's is one university among many around the country that have seen students hospitalized after drinking Four Loko.

While some have rushed to buy it before it's gone, others are glad to see it go.

"I think it's a good idea. I don't think it's good for anyone and it's kind of scary," said student Liz Messaros.

"I'm kind of happy they're taking it off. I don't think everyone is educated as to what these caffeinated drinks can do to you," said student Erica Malanga.

Many beer distributors are also happy to see it go. They say Four Loko had been cutting deeply into their regular beer sales.

"Now we can get back to selling beer. Our beer sales were way down because of that Loko, but now they'll have to buy the beer, so we're happy," said Michalski.

The maker of Four Loko say it will soon be back on the market, but without the caffeine.

The college age customers of this distributor have told Michalski, however, they won't buy it without the caffeine kick.

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