Anheuser-Busch has countered attacks against the launch of its caffeine-infused B(E) beer. The company has been accused by pressure groups in the UK of fuelling the country's binge-drinking epidemic.

B(E) was unveiled last week, and will hit the UK market on 18 July. The 5% ABV beer contains caffeine, guarana, ginsenfg and a fruit flavour.

"We have consulted with a number of groups about this product, including the Portman Group," Jim Gorczyca, UK marketing director for Anheuser-Busch Europe Ltd, told just-drinks. "We are marketing B(E) responsibly as we do all our beers."

When asked if AB was marketing the beer as an energy drink, Gorczyca said; "No.  This is a beer with new flavours and ingredient combinations that we believe contemporary adults will enjoy. The additions of caffeine, ginseng, guarana, and a fruit flavour in BE provide a fresh, new taste that is unique and fun."

Regarding the labelling of the drink as "High Caffeine Content," Gorczyca pointed out that "UK labeling regulations state that products that contain 150 mg per litre of caffeine or more must carry a caffeine statement."

Pressure group Action on Addiction has claimed that the caffeine would encourage longer drinking sessions, while making drinkers think that the alcohol was being "neutralised".