Downing Budweiser's Unfathomable Tomato, Beer and Clam Chelada

by Tom Gates Dec 15, 2009

All photos courtesy of the author’s sister.

Tom Gates takes on Aneheuser-Busch’s inexplicably popular beverage, The Chelada. Spoiler: He loses.

Here at Nights we’re perpetually obsessed with oddball concoctions and suspicious beverages. Until now, the only thing that had really given my taste buds a run for their money was Scotland’s ultra-popular (and strangely marketed) soda Irn-Bru.

It was with this sense of discovery that I decided to buy a can of Budweiser’s West Coast sensation, a concoction made from beer and Clamato juice. I’d been seeing it in stores since I returned to America this month and was completely puzzled by its seeming success.

Let’s get this right out of the way: The Chelada is by far the most sensationally disgusting drink I have ever had. The aftertaste hung with me for about an hour and its red, runny texture has me fighting back a gag as I type this. My sister tried a sip and backed me up by making a face as if she’d just eaten a pound of goat cheese and pig intestines.

Clamato, for those not from Canada (they’re obsessed), is a mixer made of tomato and clam juice. I’ll say that again. Clamato is a mixer made of tomato and clam juice.

Budweiser has, in this case, mixed Clamato with their patented brew to create this evil can of whoopass. Just really think about it – beer mixed with mollusks. The Chelada’s can even offers a warning, “Contains: Shellfish/Clams”.

I opened the brew and immediately became suspicious of the catsup and beer smell that eminated as the tab popped. It hardly smelled what Budweiser describes, “refreshing” with “spices and a hint of lime”. I smelled Prego tomato sauce, oregano and beer.

The actual downing of the beverage was a comic affair in which I successfully gulped two sips, then relented. I just couldn’t get any more down. Perhaps someone, somewhere loves this drink. I just couldn’t stomach it.

While I can’t endorse this particular beverage, I’d highly recommend that you try it yourself, if for no other reason than to acknowledge that a concept like this could be put into the marketplace. If you’re hungry, Budweiser also recommends that it “pairs well with ceviche, chicken, enchiladas and tamales.”

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