The Secret Diaries of Dr. Victor Drankenstein Ch. 16: I guess you say it like “Taboo”?
I’ve been doing these columns for a while now, and it’s becoming clear that the malt liquor industry is having a tough time keeping up with me. It’s getting really difficult to find new drinks on the shelf, especially when nearly every brand shares so many flavors. Even with my discerning hobo palate, my review for Watermelon Joose is going to look a lot like one for Watermelon Four Loko. And even if there were new flavors, the fact that every can in these coolers looks like the lovechild of the Archbishop Don “Magic” Juan and an MMA merchandiser isn’t helping. It all blends together after a while, you know? So imagine my surprise when a weekly stop at my favorite corner store, The Rooster (on Detroit in Lakewood a few blocks from the Cleveland border), produced this little beauty. TauBu Midnite Berry: the can is pretty artfully designed, I’ve never heard of the brand, and the flavor holds at least some small promise of a surprise. It’s a perfect trifecta. So with that said, let’s get down to bidness.
Sold in 24oz cans and weighing in at 12%ABV, TauBu certainly fits the precedent for drinks in this style. A few things make it stand out, however. I already mentioned the can, which I like more and more each time I look at it. Each flavor shows a figure in a different design and pose. It seems like a small thing, but it is really nice to see can art that goes beyond the usual generic tribal tattoo fodder. Then there’s the website, TauBu.com. It’s remarkably well designed and content-heavy for a drink I’ve only known about for two days. There’s even a recipe section, as well as a blog discussing beer history, beer movies, and so forth. This strikes me as a pretty well thought-out promotion for a brand that caters to a fairly niche market, and on top of that only has three flavors in their line.
That’s right, only three flavors: Midnite Berry, Evil Apple, and Wicked Punch. It’s almost unheard of in this market to not have grape, watermelon, or lemonade flavored offerings. You’d think that something like this would have to be a small branch of a much larger company, right? The can states that TauBu is brewed by Palm Distribution in Cold Spring, Minnesota. I cannot find a single mention of Palm Distribution on the Internet, and all searches lead me to Cold Spring Brewery. Cold Spring’s website claims that they are the number one producer of specialty (alcoholic?) energy drinks in the country, as well as “the number one producer of exclusive beer and craft beer brands for major retailers in the United States”. I call shenanigans on this claim- as a professional drinker slash journalist who spends a lot of time at a computer reading the fine print on cans, you’d think some of this would at least ring a bell. Supporting my argument is the fact that their website’s product page includes exactly two beers and one hard lemonade. At any rate there is zero mention of TauBu on their site, so I’m not even sure the two are affiliated.
It occurs to me at this juncture that you, my eager yet patient readership, may be left wondering how this stuff actually tastes. The best answer I can give is that I have absently picked up the empty can no less than three times now, and thus have been disappointed three times as I realize I reached the bottom somewhat ahead of schedule. I have made an art form out of pacing drinks for journalistic purposes, an art form which was quickly unlearned at the hands of TauBu Midnite Berry. The flavor kept its promise of surprise right off the bat, as I went in expecting blueberry. Blueberry has ridden the coattails of the beloved pomegranate, and shares the latter’s ubiquitous nature in the beverage industry. This drink is most assuredly raspberry, however, and I’m guessing the “Midnite” in the name is a nod to the hint of grape I’m detecting in the mix. Raspberry plus grape is not a flavor I’ve encountered in beverage form before, and it’s a welcome discovery.
This stuff was a pretty great find, and one of the more pleasant surprises in my tenure as a certified Doctor of Drank. If you’re at all a fan of this style of high-impact malt concoction, do yourself a favor and seek out some TauBu. I will definitely be trying out the other flavors, and out of all the promotional websites I’ve come across in my searches for this column, this is the only one I’ll be bookmarking for further news and future flavors.