My friend, Ita Bassey, is an interesting man.
You know those kind of people who love to enjoy life: food connoisseur, boyish dresser, good talker, football lover and sweet drinker.
One day, it was a Sunday I think, we met up at Regent Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos to have drinks.
‘Give me a chilled bottle of Star, please,’ he told the bar man as we settled into cane chairs by the poolside.
‘Let me have one Star too. And a bottle of Fanta.’
The way he looked at me, I told myself ‘Ita is going to be mixing his Star with orange again tonight.’
Few weeks earlier, at the Sheraton Hotel, we sat by the lobby bar, in the company of Precious Nwachukwu (who worked for BHM at the time) and had plenty of Star and Fanta as we waited for call time to set up for the launch of Star Lite. The bar man was kind enough to give us an endless supply of popcorn.
I’ve never really been an alcohol person. I had a bit of beer when I was much younger, before going off completely. But since meeting the likes of Howie T, Steve Ayorinde, Abisoye Fagade, Kingsley James, Layinka Oyedeji and Kunle Afolayan, I have become a consumer again. But it was wines and spirit I returned to.
It was not until our agency began working for Nigerian Breweries that I tasted beer again. Because I hadn’t acquired the taste for it, I admit I didn’t enjoy it at first so when our in house connoisseur Anita Aiyudu suggested I mix Star or Heineken with Fanta or Fayrouz or Sprite, I was more than glad.
I stayed with the mix, for as long as I had to – until I realized one weekend, that I may have developed a taste for beer. For the first time in forever, a cold glass of beer didn’t taste ‘bitter’.
That’s when I started to drink my beer ‘straight.’
But a few months ago, Tokunbo Adodo called to have a chat. He wanted to know how I like my beer and why? I explained the mixtures that made it easier for me when I first tried to drink beer, out of loyalty to the brands I work for. I explained how even my female friends who didn’t like beer would ask for extra servings any time I mixed Star with Fanta, or Heineken with Fayrouz. I told him of how it helped us introduce BHM ladies to beer.
Apparently Ita and Biyi Fagade had briefed Tokunbo on this consumer habit. I’m sure they spoke with several other consumers – he told me it was a survey.
I soon forgot about that discussion.
Until I visited a friend and saw a bottle of Star Radler: Beer and Juice in a can. This one is a special present for me, I told my wife. I asked for a cold can, opened it and gulped everything. My wife, who cannot stand alcohol and who may never have tasted beer, did same. And we fell in love immediately.
I’m now a hundred percent beer boy. Apart from my favourite cognac, Hennessy, my friends know a cold glass of Star or Heineken will make my evening.
But although I no longer need to mix my beer with orange, there are still many learners who will find Radler a good way to begin drinking ‘beer.’
At this time when beer markets are dwindling and many young people are made to think – erroneously – that sprit, wine and RTDs are healthier and cooler than beer, I consider Radler a good move by a company that gave Nigeria her first beer.
This one is for me, and for everyone that needs to join #TeamBeer!