updated 8/23/2005 6:57:32 PM ET 2005-08-23T22:57:32

Want a bit of ginger in that beer? Or how about a strawberry Budweiser daiquiri? If the very thought of it makes your stomach lurch, this Bud isn't for you.

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But Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., better known for its manly Budweiser brand, is trying to tempt more adventurous taste buds in hopes of tapping into the growing trend toward cocktails, wines and energy drinks.

The St. Louis-based company, which owns a brewery in Williamsburg, has introduced new beer products such as "B-to-the-E" and "Tilt," which mix in sweet flavors, caffeine, ginseng and guarana.

Anheuser-Busch is also offering its own beer-mixing recipes, which can be found on its brand Web sites and in the aisles of some grocery stores. Among the new concoctions: Bud Light Orangutang with orange juice, grenadine and simple syrup, and "B-to-the-E"atch, or "Beatch," a drink with raspberry liqueur and a bad attitude.

But attitude is only one part of the company's marketing plan. As Anheuser-Busch promotes its new products and do-it-yourself mixes, it's touring the country, giving the media a taste of what it hopes is the new, refined side of its beer.

Tuesday, the tour reached the company's Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, where drink innovations manager Marianne Radley served several new mixes, including a light Budweiser beer drink with ginger ale and a stick of cinnamon.

"This is just another way of enjoying or experiencing different flavors," Radley said.

Some were a hit with a small group of reporters/tasters, including the light and airy ginger ale mix that didn't offer even a hint of beer aftertaste, and an eye-opening Bloody Mary-like beer concoction. Some of the more fruity mixes, including an orange juice-beer drink that sought to mimic a mimosa, seemed to be more of an acquired taste.

Along with the drinks, chef Brent Wertz of the nearby Kingsmill Resort & Spa served thinly sliced duck, cheddar soup, a chocolate tart and other delicacies — all made, of course, with beer.

Anheuser-Busch has roughly 50 percent of the nation's beer market. But its earnings have sagged in a competitive and evolving marketplace. Today, more consumers are seeking wine and mixed drinks that they believe reflect a more sophisticated taste.

According to preliminary figures from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, beer's market share has declined to 57.0 percent in 2004 from 59.1 percent in 2001. Spirits, on the other hand, rose from 28.6 percent to 29.7 percent, and wine took 13.3 percent of the market, up from 12.3 percent.

Anheuser-Busch's latest marketing "is all about trying to recapture lost ground," said George Hacker, director of the alcohol policies project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Hacker says he has a problem with the beer-mixing trend, particularly the fruit-flavored concoctions containing caffeine and the Brazilian stimulant guarana.

They're capturing the cocktail crowd and people who don't necessarily like the taste of alcohol, Hacker said. They even attract those who want an energy boost, which might prolong drinking, he said.

"They're going for everything," Hacker said.

But the irony, he said, is that the company may stumble over its own brand image, which has been carefully constructed over the years.

For years, Anheuser-Busch has been telling people to twist open a beer at ball games, Hacker said. Now they want people to pour it over ice.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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