For whatever it may be worth, I did not find Scottish brewer Brewdog's The End of History to be too over the top. This, I suspect, speaks far too much about my perspective on life than I'd care to ponder. That noted, when I heard about their latest effort, Royal Virility Performance, I was boggled. Brewing the highest ABV beer in existence and bottling it inside of taxidermied mammals? Fine. Brewing a beer with sildenafil (better known by it's brand name, Viagra)? Complete, utter madness. Except the sildenafil piece may not be true. Here's a quote from the Beer in Baltimore post where I first saw the story, which appears to have been taken from a Brewdog press release:
We are going to release a limited-edition beer containing Viagra to mark the forthcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th. Brewed using various well known aphrodisiacs, the limited edition artisanal beer will only be available to buy from the BrewDog.com website and will be dispatched on the day before the wedding.
According to the specially commissioned label, the Royal Virility Performance contains Viagra, chocolate, Horny Goat Weed and ‘a healthy dose of sarcasm’. The beer is a 7.5% ABV India Pale Ale and has been brewed at BrewDog’s brewery in Fraserburgh.
And here's the current text from Brewdog's site:
A limited-edition beer containing herbal viagra to mark the forthcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th. Brewed using various well known aphrodisiacs, the limited edition artisanal beer will only be available to buy from the BrewDog.com website.
According to the specially commissioned label, the Royal Virility Performance contains herbal viagra, chocolate, Goat Weed and ‘a healthy dose of sarcasm’. The beer is a 7.5% ABV India Pale Ale and has been brewed at BrewDog’s brewery in Fraserburgh.
With this beer we want to take the wheels off the royal wedding bandwagon being jumped on by dozens of breweries; The Royal Virility Performance is the perfect antidote to all the hype. A beer should be brewed with a purpose, not just because some toffs are getting married, so we created something at our brewery that will undermine those special edition beers and other assorted seaside tat, whilst at the same time actually give the happy couple something extra on their big day.
That's just a slight, but important, difference. If one were to brew a beer with sildenafil, I would assume one would use a minimal "look at my stunt ingredient!" dose that wouldn't have any physiological activity. The potential for bad outcomes would be far too great if there was enough to constitute an active dose, and using a licensed medicine openly in a beer product strikes me as being illegalish from a regulatory standpoint.
"Herbal viagra", however, is a colloquialism for any herbal or supplement remedy that purports to enhance erectile function, and as such has nothing to do with sildenafil. Most of those substances don't have any real physiological activity anyway, and so would be safe to include in a brew. Also, being herbal supplements, they aren't subject to the same regulatory rules as a medication like sildenafil, so there wouldn't be any legal barriers to using them in beer.
I am forced to wonder whether the initial press release (if true in terms of it's text content) was overzealous marketing hype, represented an earlier plan to actually use sildenafil, or was merely in error. Perhaps going the "real Viagra" route was their intent, and then the discovered a regulatory or safety reason they couldn't use it, so modified their plan accordingly. Whatever the case, this means that Brewdog hasn't really jumped the shark... yet. I await that glorious day with bated breath.