Whatever Gets You Through The Night - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

An Energy Drink Taste-Test



    Whatever Gets You Through The Night
    Greg Janda

    We pop open four energy drinks and profile each brew, what they taste like, what makes them give you that “buzz,” and if they really do give you the energy you need.

    Before we begin, we wanted to explain where we pulled our data for these drinks: right from the can. We bought each drink from a different vendor (i.e. convenience stores, groceries, etc.) on a different day and consumed each immediately after purchase while the drink was still chilled. Many “energy drinks” say this is the preferred way of consumption, so we’re happy to oblige. Nutritional information is also pulled right from the can – though we’ll be sure to note if our cans had two servings of said drink inside.

    Red Bull
    What is it?
    The most popular energy drink claims to “give you wings” in it’s commercials, but the small 8.3 oz serving gave us more thirst – and a significant buzz -- after downing one. Red Bull also is a big hit at the bar, where it’s being mixed with many alcoholic beverages to give a kick to your favorite cocktail.
    What’s in it?
    Buzz Factors: Sucrose, Glucose, Taurine, Inositol Caffeine, Vitamin B12.
    Nutrition Info: 110 Calories, 200 mg Sodium, 27g of Sugar per 8.3oz can.
    What does it taste like?
    The “Bull” attacked my sour centers and kicked like a Pamplona running beast all the way down my throat. Sure, it does its job, but Red Bull tastes like the devil took your teeth and pulled them backwards into your mouths. We’ve heard many, many reports that when mixed with vodka, Jaeger, or other alcohol, it’s the second coming of delicious, but alone, we’d prefer any of our other drinks on taste alone.
    How’s the kick?
    Fierce! One small can of Red Bull kept us going for quite a long time, and felt like it improved our clarity mentally as well as just overall energy.

    What is it?
    Despite the hilarious name, Bawls is a popular drink in the gaming community where it’s high caffeine content and Guarana extract have made it the drink of choice for late night LAN sessions on Team Fortress 2. Unlike our other drinks, Bawls is an energy soda; meaning it tastes more like a Sprite than a thicker “energy supplement.”
    What’s in it?
    Buzz Factors: High Caffeine content, Guarana extract, Corn syrup
    Nutrition Info: 90 Calories, 30 mg Sodium, 25g of Sugar per serving NOTE: Our can had 2 servings, though the standard bottled Bawls is a single serving.
    What does it taste like?
    If Sprite or 7-Up mated with a berry/citrus hybrid, added some caffeine and other energy boosters, you’d get the smooth-like-a-soda-with-a-kick taste of Bawls. Stop laughing. That’s the name of the drink. Overall, it’s the least like an “energy drink” in consistency, which helps in aftertaste and how it sits in your stomach.
    How’s the kick?
    Built for “twitch” gamers, it’s the brief jolt of energy that true caffeine addicts are already used to, which can honestly be ineffective compared to some of the other energy drinks on the market. We felt a little twitchy ourselves after drinking the beverage, but the energy didn’t last long enough. The crash with Bawls was also much harder than other drinks, most likely due to the influx of caffeine and guarana with no B vitamins or other long-term energy suppliments.

    SoBe No Fear
    What is it?
    SoBe’s energy offering is co-branded by No Fear to offer a grape-flavored fruity energy drink that seems to try and bridge the gap between fruit drinks and energy supplements. It’s also “super-powering” on the vitamin front, offering one hundred percent of the Vitamin B6, B12, and C required per day -- in only one serving of the drink.
    What’s in it?
    Buzz Factors: Taurine, Inositol, Ginseng, Guarana, L-Carnitine, L-Arginine, Caffeine, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C
    Nutrition Info: 130 Calorites, 115 mg of Sodium, 33g of Sugar per serving NOTE: Our can had 2 servings.
    What does it taste like?
    SoBe No Fear tastes most like a fruit drink, with a small aftertaste that reminds you it’s got a kick. We were pleased with the taste overall and found ourselves with an empty – although very large – can of SoBe extremely quickly. Much of that had to do with the use of grape juice concentrate in the drink, which helped the taste and the consistency of the drink.
    How’s the kick?
    Barely noticeable. For all the short and long-term energy blends SoBe put in, we didn’t feel the effects of the drink any more than a soda. This could have been an isolated issue, and we’ll definitely try SoBe’s drink again, as the taste was the best we’ve found. The other issue around this energy strategy is activation. While caffeine might just activate by running through your blood, sitting on your bottom won’t activate some of the other ingredients offered in the SoBe or other drinks products. Still, if you need the energy immediately, SoBe’s product seems less effective than others.

    AMP Energy
    What is it?
    Mountain Dew produces this “energy supplement” full of riboflavins, maltodextrin, ginseng, and, of course, caffeine, taurine, and guarana to try offer energy to those seduced by green cans.
    What’s in it?
    Buzz Factors: Ginseng, Taurine, Guarana, Caffeine, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6
    Nutrition Info: 110 Calories, 65 mg of Sodium, 29g of Sugar per Serving NOTE: Our can had 2 servings.
    What does it taste like?
    AMP is a thick liquid with a citrus twist from the orange juice concentrate used to make the brew. Then again, brominated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup are also used to make the “energy supplement” seem more like a meal than a beverage, and it sure does feel that way. The night we tried AMP, we forgot dinner. The drink feels like a struggle; sipping down AMP’s sludge instead of a tasty “energy soda” or fruity concoction does not make us want to return to the offering based on taste alone.
    How’s the kick?
    Pretty great. Even though it tastes thick, it’s got a great kick that gave us a pretty quick boost that lasted longer than most of the others we tested. Also, we forgot dinner, which is a strange side “feature” of the drink. Though we don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing, we were able to work through the night on the single AMP without feeling hungry or tired – almost like a well-vegetable-oiled machine.

    So how do they rank in taste?
    1.) SoBe No Fear – Fruity, fresh taste, with little resemblance to the traditional “energy drink” makes it the top of our list.
    2.) Bawls – Bubbly and light like a berry-citrus soda with lots of high caffeine kick.
    3.) AMP Energy – Thick and sludge like, it still tastes like orange juice mixed with corn syrup…and a little vegetable oil.
    4.) Red Bull – Satan’s fire in an aluminum vessel. Drink only when mixed with alcohol.

    How do they rank based on kick?
    1.) Red Bull – There’s a reason it’s the most popular “energy drink.” Long lasting, quick acting energy that seemed to do exactly as advertised.
    2.) AMP Energy – Balanced between giving a quick boost and long-term energy stamina, it kept us (terrible pun alert) AMPed throughout the night.
    3.) Bawls – Great for a quick boost of energy, it fails to maintain the level in the long-term. Plus, it gives us the shakes, man.
    4.) SoBe No Fear – Almost as much benefit as drinking a soda and a fruit drink back to back in terms of kick – though we’ll have to recheck this when we’re doing more than simple housework and job duties.

    Did we miss your favorite energy drink? Leave your suggestion for the next round of products to try in the comments below and we’ll put them through the paces to see if we can find the ultimate source for energy with good taste.