Exotic, uh, gum: 5 Adamantium

And now for something completely different: 5 Adamantium gum. Here's a follow-up to my previous article about V Graphite, the tie-in with the The Wolverine film, which is due to be released within a week or so.

I realise this isn't a beverage. I'm sorry. You'll survive. Deep breaths.

So many incomprehensible thoughts come to mind when one is presented with a chewing gum named after a superhero's fingernails.

This is Wrigley's 5 gum in Adamantium flavour with the byline "A rush of citrus".

I've often wondered if the creators of 5 gum took their marketing strategy from Lynx/Axe deodorant, in that they've branded the product with a slick, mostly black design and chosen totally non-descriptive flavour names. I realise trends are made to be bucked, but there's something to be said for giving your customers some idea of what they're paying for. (Particularly as neither the gum nor the deodorant are cheap products.)

The package design is cool, but it's got a head start considering the established design is already really neat. This one is silver.

The gum itself is wrapped in silver foil embossed with the 5 logo. The gum itself is yellowish beige.

Beware the pear.

When 5 was originally released back in 2009, Wrigley took the unique (and admittedly quite gimmicky) stance of leaving the flavours a total mystery. Nothing was printed on the wrapping, and the names of each flavour were deliberately cryptic. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the flavours are now printed on the outer plastic wrap. This one is "A rush of citrus", the "rush" being the addition of pear. I had no idea pear was considered a speedy fruit.

Based on a five minute perusal of the Wikipedia page for 5 gum, it strikes me that 5 Adamantium is quite likely a rebranding of 5 Evolution, a citrus and pear flavoured variation released in Europe, but not Australia.

It tastes like a fruity chewing gum. Nothing amazing to report. It doesn't taste like Hugh Jackman (unless Mr. Jackman has a flavour akin to artificial lemon sorbet with a pear in it).

The flavour lasts a remarkable length of time, but I believe that's a staple of all of the 5 gum range.

What can I say, it's alright. It's not remarkable. It's....alright.

Other things I've learned today: I had no idea that Schmackos are made by the same company that makes Mars Bars. (And 5 gum.) Something new. Every day.

Another old review: Pulse Live energy drink

Really cool looking bottle. This is another energy drink review that I need to apologise for. Much like my review of Pimp Juice, this one is going to suffer from the fact that I didn't actually write anything down when I drank the damn thing several years ago. I took photos, though. That's something.

Pulse Live is as obscure as hell. I can't find much about it through googling, largely because it's completely obscured by Pulse, the more famous energy drink with vodka added. This drink doesn't seem to be affiliated with Pulse.

The bottle looks awesome. The label is transparent, and the artwork is really quite cool. It's a long-necked bottle unlike most bottles you find, so it stands out.

No colour whatsoever.

The drink itself is totally colourless. Not even a hint of yellow. (Although having said that, with age, it's turned slightly beige. I won't be drinking the out-of-date bottle any time soon.)

It smells and tastes exactly like lemonade.

That's about all I have to say about that.

Also, this is the last one of these stupid "I took photos five years ago, so now I'll write a review" reviews. I promise.

This is awkward - exotic beverage: Pimp Juice

One assumes they wrung a pimp out to make this. This is awkward not only because this drink is endorsed by Nelly, and is called "Pimp Juice". It'll also be awkward because I drank the damn thing four years ago. I was thoughtful enough to take photos, but evidently not thoughtful enough to make notes. You'd think I'd have known better.

Regardless, I shall press on.

While searching for any residue of a review I may have written when I sipped the stuff, the only text I can find on my computer relating to Pimpjuice is part of an IRC chat transcript from 2008:

Datazoid: I bought another three energy drinks whilst in Adelaide. Datazoid: I shall add them to the pile of thirty or so I've yet to sample. Datazoid: Most of which are rapidly exceeding their use-by dates. Chubbs: Datazoid: will it make any difference GremZzz: It might even improve them. GremZzz: The sugar content will ferment and you'll get wasted. Datazoid obtained "Hiro Vitality", which contains essence of brocolli, alfalfa and celery. Datazoid: It's bound to taste of ass. Datazoid: I also located Pimpjuice. Datazoid: I had to ask for it by name over a counter. Datazoid: "Please can I have some, uh, pimpjuice please."

Apart from that, here's what I can tell you: It's green. The can art is quite nice, if you're in to bling and all that.

The Pimp Juice website is horrible. It makes noises when you point to the menu items. It contains way too much Nelly. I have learned that the drink is apparently still being made, and now comes in a purple colour.

The green one was supposedly berry flavoured, but I have some memory of it tasting largely like water and vitamin B, with some sugary horridness overtop.

I believe this drink's sole redeeming factor is that it's GREEN.

I still have a full can of this stuff in storage, but as it's at least four years old there is no way known I intend to drink it. I'll leave that job to someone else.

Exotic beverage: V Graphite

Graphite! Update, July 12, 2013: I'm getting loads of hits on this article (by loads I mean literally tens), so I'm going to put the killer question up front for those who're asking:

What does V Graphite taste like? It tastes like spectacularly artificial chocolate.

Now, back to the original article:

This energy drink is a tie-in with The Wolverine, which opens in July, 2013. I found a review on Lifehacker which claims the drink has a similar flavour to Mother, which I'm afraid has tainted my opinion of the drink before I've even tried it. I'm pleased to report, though, that I don't agree with this assessment.

The Lifehacker comments address an obvious question: Why "Graphite" and not "Adamantium" if this is a tie-in with The Wolverine? Logical answers are provided: Graphite was an existing flavour in New Zealand, newly introduced to Australia. Also, 5 gum has already staked claim to an adamantium flavour.

The can art is cool, but nothing outrageous. Wolverine appears in black and white. The "V" logo floats over a red patch. I guess they would have had to tread carefully, and would not have been able to include the usual torn slashes from Wolverine's claws, as they'd look a lot like to logo for Monster Energy.

The bizarre ingredient in this drink is and extract from the maca root (lepidium meyenii), which you can read about in tedious detail on Wikipedia. Among its more outrageous claims to fame, maca has been known to create and/or worsen goiters (don't click on that if you're eating), and to act as male aphrodisiac. I've seen female aphrodisiacs in energy drinks (Naughty Girl), and a generic aphrodisiac in Red Eye Passion (not yet reviewed, but it tastes like champagne).

The drink is brown. It's not as dark as cola, and it's a warmer brown than you'd expect. It's kind of like tea. It's well carbonated.

It tastes like chocolate. At least, it tastes like chocolate in the sense that the Lynx/Axe Dark Temptation body spray smells like chocolate. It's a totally artificial-tasting flavour. It's fifty percent really cheap chocolate (the powdery white kind), and fifty percent as though someone was given the job of simulating the flavour of chocolate from a barrage of completely unrelated chemicals. All told, though, it's quite palatable. Unlike V Black, which is supposed to be coffee-based but tastes largely like arse, V Graphite seems to be a fairly pleasant drink.

Oh, and it's had no effect on my libido thus far. Sorry.

Observations about energy drinks

A long time ago, when I was more enthusiastically reviewing my ridiculous collection of energy drinks, I received an e-mail from someone, asking something along the following lines: "Why do you drink and review energy drinks when you think they all taste like crap?"

Allow me to address this.

I don't think they all taste like crap. I think most of them taste like crap.

Energy drinks, by their nature, have a great tendency to taste terrible. This is because the key ingredients that give energy drinks their energiness taste, with few exceptions, like shit.

Caffeine is a very bitter tasting chemical. That's why most caffeinated beverages are extremely sweet (such as energy drinks), or have their own bitter flavour to mask the caffeine (like coffee or tea).

B-group vitamins, a group that includes our friends thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and B12 (among several others) taste horrible. Have you ever been curious enough to chew on a Berocca tablet? That's b-group vitamins. They are not tasty.

Taurine is made from bile. Sorry to spoil that one for you, but it's true. It's mostly synthetic these days, but still. If someone tells you "that's not real vomit, it's synthetic vomit", I don't think you'll be okay with it going into your dinner. Needless to say taurine has a hideously unpleasant flavour, and contributes big time to the unique and apparently desirable flavour of Red Bull.

An example of a good energy drink.

The trick for manufacturers of energy drinks is to create a flavour that either masks or compliments these unpleasant flavours. Most energy drinks take the "overpower it with something sweet and fruity" approach. Some take the "embrace the flavour, enhance it, make it salty and sweet" approach, like Red Bull. Others take a completely different tack, and throw in peculiar Amazonian berries and things you can't pronounce in the hopes of creating a unique flavour they can call their own. Sometimes this works. Most times it doesn't.

Limitations bear creativity. Without a box to think outside of, and envelopes to push, new flavours and concepts can't be created. The fact that energy drinks are made to suffer is what makes them fascinating to me. Sometimes I come across a good one.

It makes me happy.

Energy drink: Mother "Green Storm"

Mother "Green Storm" is a bit like recycled photocopier paper. You can't tell recycled paper is any different to regular photocopier paper unless you read the package first. Similarly, you can't tell that Mother "Green Storm" is made with natural caffeine unless you read the can. And even then, it makes no difference. Apparently natural caffeine is better for you than the synthetic stuff. Both will make you alert, but the absorption rate and side effects tend to differ. Supposedly, according to some sources that I don't care to link to, natural caffeine tends to have a gentler spike-and-crash rate. Who knows --

It's green and stuff.

It tastes like regular Mother. If you're a fan of that, then you'll probably like this. If -- like me -- you're not a fan of the acrid taste of standard Mother, then you'll probably think it tastes like piss and vinegar with most of the vinegar removed.

The can also claims "high caffeine content", which is peculiar, as it actually has 0.4 milligrams less per 100ml than pretty much any other energy drink that's available. While it's not unusual for these drinks to claim a higher energy content than their competitors, which can be justified by higher sugar levels, claiming high caffeine content when it's...not, is just peculiar.

Energy drinks collection, a sample

I have some energy drinks. Currently, most of them reside in cardboard boxes in my garage, and I'm seriously hoping none of them have gained the evolutionary skills required to eat through their aluminium cans, because I'll one day be opening up boxes of metallicised molasses with guarana undertones and that does not sound like fun. Here are a few happy snaps of various shelves full of drinks from the last several years:

Ooh, Nokia phone camera quality.

Left to right, we have:

  • Battery (tasted alright, but just a knock-off of Red Bull)
  • Hype (elderberry flavoured drink, red in colour, didn't taste entirely like ass)
  • Jugular (tasted very much like Satan's anus, with overtones of death, feces and herbs)
  • Red Eye Power (Red Bull clone)
  • Speed (Lime, Raspberry and Cola, if memory serves. All pretty average)
  • BLOX (either a repackaging or a knock-off of Blue Ox, which tasted largely like disappointment. And ass)
  • Scooby Doo and friends -- not energy drinks, but cool packaging regardless. I'm afraid I don't recall the flavour of Scooby or Shaggy's drinks, but Catwoman was raspberry and Batman is clearly cola (with apple juice)
  • The bottle of home-brand methylated spirits in the lower left is unrelated to the energy drinks

Hit the jump, there be heaps more.

Nokia Nokia Nokia.

Continuing the collection, we have:

  • Irn Bru, at Dan's insistance
  • Columbian Cola, which unfortunately does not seem to have any suspicious ingredients
  • Hartz Energy from Tasmania, which I purchased for the obvious reason that it's BLUE

OH HEY slightly better quality

There's a Hemp trend on this shelf. Hemp, the original, is in the yellow and green cans on top. The black ones are Hemp Black Label, and the bottles are Hemp Gold. I don't recall actually getting around to trying these ones, and I imagine if they're still sealed in my garage that they probably taste like acrid crud by now. Perhaps they mellow with age. (Also, perhaps they don't.)

Yellow V, lemon flavour, was a temporary addition to the V lineup that I actually rather liked. Mother, on the other hand, has always had a reputation for tasting largely like shite, even though the new formulation seems to just be another Red Bull/Monster Energy clone in a gigantic can. At least it doesn't taste like the old formula.

Yep, still clearer. Nice flash, too.

Moving right along:

  • Pimp Juice, inspired by the Nelly song (angels and ministers of grace defend us) with its semi-cool packaging
  • Bennu Extra has some supremely elegant can design, which I like, but suffers from the unfortunate failing of tasting like degreaser
  • Hiro Vitality, a curious sports-energy health drink containing all sorts of strange things that have no business being in a beverage, plus guarana and a whopping 7 calories

Mmm, cans.

Aaaaand there's more:

  • Buzz Me, a curious honey-based organic energy drink. If there's any drink that I'll bet money has gone horribly wrong in my garage, it'll be these. I suspect they're turning to mead as we speak
  • Ed Hardy Energy Drink. Jesus Christ, he's everywhere
  • Synergy -- not 100% sure, but I believe this one's sugar free
  • Pink: an energy drink targeted at the lay-dees, also sugar free because bitches don't need no sugar
  • Citron: Liquid Energy. Ten points to this one for it's metal-band-inspired packaging and extensive flavour range: Raspberry Splash, Tropical Azul, Original and Pineapple Passion
  • Spring Valley Smart Energy, with its spectacularly dubious option of Blood Orange and Chilli. It tasted largely how you'd expect. Like blood orange and inexplicable burning, with all the joy of vitamin B and guarana peeking out from below, mocking you and ensuring every belch thereafter will remind you of your sins

oh look, he's a nerd

But wait, there's more!

  • Samedi, a subcontinental contribution with cool packaging
  • Solo Strong: The Thirst Crusher with some guarana added to it
  • High Roller Energy, with its horrid can design
  • Bad Girl Power Drink, released some time after its brother, Bad Boy Power Drink. Aimed at the female contingent, I presume it's sugar-free, and is probably pink in colour
  • Mother, the original. Excuse me, whilst I lose the will to live
  • Elixa, with some astoundingly good can art
  • Angel, a low-carb, no-sugar disaster in a fairly cool can
  • Demon, made by the same folks as Angel, in three different flavours
  • Rock, a Red Bull clone that has since appeared in voluminous quantities in The Reject Shop

Y'know what the sad part is? There're still more of them. Many, many more. Stand by, there'll be a sequel.

Exotic beverage review: Battery Energy Drink

It looks like a battery, albeit with no negative terminal. I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to be able to pop open a D-cell battery and drink the energetic goodness inside. I have my doubts, however, that it would be a particularly tasty experience. Particularly after third-degree chemical burns have taken your tastebuds out of the equation. Nevertheless, the solution presents itself: Battery Energy Drink.

It looks like beer. Without a head. Not surprising, as it's imported by Fosters.

Much to my chagrin, it doesn't smell like battery acid at all. Instead, it smells like a generic energy drink. My hopes are dashed!

It's quite pleasant, indeed. It has a fuller flavour that other "generic" energy drinks (read: Red Bull clones), and it seems a bit sweeter. It's definitely much nicer than sucking on a Duracell.

When warm, it suffers a bit. It becomes rather floury and generally unpleasant. I don't know why I include this review criteria when all of the drinks usually have "serve chilled" written on them. I just like the pain. Mm, tasty pain.

I've had a lot worse. It comes in a larger, 330ml can than most energy drinks, which is a bonus, and it did seem to perk me up as I wrote this review and played a bit of Tetris. So that's something.

Exotic beverage review: Superman

Be careful near phone booths with this drink. It's not often I get to try a drink that has a theme tune. DUH DADA DA DA, DAAA DAAA DAAAAAAA! Yay, Superman. This is an exclusive of Woolworths supermarkets in Australia, and according to the can:

"SUPERMAN Energy Drink is a deliciously refreshing energy drink that contains Taurine and Caffeine. It helps to charge physical & mental performance throughout the day by providing extra energy power to your body."

Intriguing. A drink that claims to last all day!

It's red. It's very, very red. Upon initial pouring, it actually produces a small amount of red foam, which is possibly the coolest thing ever. Did I mention it's red?

It smells like kryptonite. Or what I'd imagine kryptonite would smell like. If kryptonite was made of Red Bull, anyway.

It doesn't taste as red as it looks. It's quite similar to Red Bull, my perennial benchmark, but it's not as sweet. As a result, the base flavours of vitamin-B and caffeine show through a lot more. This doesn't actually make the drink unpleasant, though, it's oddly refreshing to drink an energy drink that doesn't have the horrid oily sweet flavour trying valiantly, but in vain, to hide the flavours that are "good for you".

It doesn't hold up to the warm drink test. All sweetness disappears entirely, leaving only bitterness and defeat. It's like drinking Lex Luthor's urine. If Lex Luthor's urine tasted like turpentine and vitamins.

The aftertaste of B-vitamins is stronger than usual, presumably because the masking flavours are thinner than usual. It's not exactly pleasant, but I've definitely had worse.

It gets points for being so freakin' RED. It gets points for having fairly awesome can art (although I personally think it's got too much silver and not enough super). It gets points for being called Superman.

I have no complaints about this drink. It's pleasant. I think Superman would approve.

Exotic beverage review: Bullit Energy Drink

Bullit. Or BulLit. Or bulLIT. I'm not sure. I've had this one sitting on my shelf for some time. A few months ago, I was kindly sent a package of three energy drinks from the Netherlands. (Actually, I was sent four, but one of them sadly exploded in the mail, leaving only the remaining three. Which were quite sticky.)

I've already sampled two of them, and found them to be average and disturbingly sugar-free.

I've been told, however, that the subject of this review, Bullit, is a particularly awesome example of an energy drink. At the risk of jumping to conclusions, I can't help but think:

a) it's got to be different to Red Bull. If this has been quantified as being better than other drinks, then I'm assuming it's not a Red Bull clone, which is a relief. I've sampled eleventy squillion drinks that are just Red Bull in a re-painted can, and I'm sick of it, already.

b) it may not taste as great as I'm expecting. I returned the favour by sending a package of three energy drinks from Australia back to the Netherlands. The package contained Hype, V and Mother. You can read my opinions of those drinks on the reviews I've linked to, there. In short, I don't mind Hype and V, and I think Mother is the piss of Satan's ugliest aunt. Mark, who was kind enough to send me the four Dutch drinks, disliked both Hype and V. So you'll understand my hesitation in sampling Bullit.

c) it's got the motherfucking Vetruvian Man on the can, which means it's awesome even if it tastes like brake fluid. This one gets bonus points all over for can art.

It's standard Energy Drink Yellow(tm). So far, so good.

It smells basically like (wait for it), Red Bull.

Okay, so it's not Red Bull. It's floral, it's slightly bile-flavoured, it's really well carbonated. It's kinda generic, but not at all unpleasant. (Or maybe I'm becoming seasoned.)

Exotic beverage review: Buzz Monkey Energy Drink

If you actually hear buzzing coming from the can, please don't drink it. Wild plum extract is the keystone on this one. The can explains: "Wild plum leaf & fruit has been used for centuries by the Australian natives to sustain energy and enhance endurance during tribal walkabouts". I have to commend Buzz Monkey for not turning this beverage into some horrific racist parody of the Aboriginal culture, as a lesser drink company may have thought to do.

Finally, an energy drink that isn't just a Red Bull clone. This one features extract of the Australian wild plum.

This drink also, unfortunately, is the advertising bitch of a former late-night television program, Quizmania. Quizmania is essentially an unwinnable game targeted towards those who have difficulty determining which shoe goes on which foot. Typical quizzes on Quizmania feature questions in the calibre of "What is two plus two?", and all callers who're capable of stringing together the crude vowel and consonant string required to pronounce the word "four" are instantly screened out by the Quizmania switchboard. This leaves the daft host to ad-lib for hours waiting for the next dullard to dial the on-screen number.

It's less yellow than most energy drinks. I believe this may be a redeeming factor.

It smells phenomenally sweet, and I believe it's actually possible to smell the wild plum extract. Thankfully, there's no aroma of monkey.

I'd say this is probably 30% Red Bull/bile/flowers flavour, 40% pleasant fruitiness and a further 30% a really strong acrid flavour that is actually not at all unpleasant. This is one of the few energy drinks I've sampled that has a strong flavour that isn't solely there to mask the unpleasantries of b-vitamins and caffeine. There's a slight sensation that you might be drinking mouthwash, but it passes quickly.

The weird acrid flavouring remains for quite some time, resilient in the strange oily slick with which these drinks tend to coat your mouth.

In short, it's not bad. In fact, it's quite pleasant. It's definitely one of the stronger tasting energy drinks I've consumed, and it's also one of the few where I'm capable of drinking an entire can without wishing I'd never been born. Bravo, Buzz Monkey!

Exotic beverage review: Guaraná Antarctica

It's....green. The can is green. And it doesn't say a whole bunch about what's inside. The inclusion of guarana in the title is my only basis for this being categorised as an energy drink, and I'm vaguely terrified of trying it.

The drink itself is beige. It also fizzed like a fizzing thing.

I'm tempted to say it smells like floral paint stripper, but that's probably a bit harsh. The small is actually quite faint, and you almost need to inhale the drink to smell it. It smells quite sweet, and at this point, I don't believe it's going to taste particularly bad. Only time will tell, though.

Time's about to tell.

Holy crap.

It's really nice.

I mean, it's totally benign. There's nothing unpleasant at all about the flavour. In fact, it's incredibly subtle. There's a slight, slight hint of vanilla, which is probably the source of the weird floral scent. I believe this drink works because it doesn't have the abhorrent b-vitamin groupings that almost all energy drinks suffer horrendously from. It also tastes slightly brewed, but not in any way unpleasant.

There's no noticable aftertaste. It tastes like you've just sipped some creaming soda. The brown kind, not the red kind.

Outstanding. Good things come, apparently, in poorly labelled packages.

Exotic beverage review: Rodeo Power Drink

Rodeo. It's sugar free. This drink was kindly sent to me from The Netherlands by Kees Engels. This makes me feel bad for giving it a fairly harsh review.

The label is printed in French, Dutch, German, Czech and Polish, so this could be interesting. I believe it's manufactured by Menken Drinks in Bodegraven, The Netherlands.

It has the usual "not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women or individuals sensitive to caffeine" warning that most energy drinks display, albeit in half a dozen languages, none of which I understand. It also has a warning that it contains phenylalanine. Joy.

This is the first sugar free energy drink I've sampled, so I anticipate it to be quite a harsh review. I'm not a fan of phenylalanine (or aspartame, or nutra-sweet, or it's billion other names), it simply tastes like vaguely sweet soap, and does not improve the flavour of a drink. Although, when an energy drink's life depends on being able to mask the unpleasant flavours of its main ingredients, I wonder how the addition of another unpleasant flavour will help it.

The can opened with a minimum of ceremony, there was no evidence of carbonation at all, but it eventually began to bubble. It appears to be the usual shade of energy drink yellow, with a slightly golden tinge to it.

Okay, so far it smells like a generic energy drink. This is a good thing. If it can pass all tests as being an average energy drink, then it's several steps ahead of what I expect from a sugar free energy drink. Hell, I may even try sugar free Red Bull if this works out. There's only one way to find out..

Well, it's not as bad as I'd expected. The flavour itself is mostly pleasant. It tastes very much like Red Bull, it has the usual flavours of tartness, slightly sickly-sweet and a bit like vomit, and clearly pasteurised. It has the slight flavour of dairy and antibiotics that most pasteurised energy drinks exhibit. However..

Over time, and given warmth, he flavour mellows greatly, becoming an unpleasantly spicy fluid. The artificial sweetener flavour thickens and becomes quite noticable when you're drinking it warm. Don't drink it warm.

The aftertaste is horrible. Artificial sweeteners suck. I've always found with drinks like Diet Coke that they taste quite decent while you're drinking them, but then you're stuck with the unfortunate reality that once you stop drinking, your mouth starts to taste like you've just sprayed it with WD-40 and sucked on a bar of soap. Well, a sugar-free energy drink is worse. The flavours of an energy drink are a procarious balance of horrible tasting things and strong, mostly pleasant tasting things. Ingredients like caffiene and vitamin-B give the drinks incredibly bitter and lasting flavours, and the added sugars and berries and whatnot basically just mask this flavour while you drink it. Almost all energy drinks have a horrid aftertaste of vitamin-B. Add phenylalanine to the mix, and it becomes entirely disgusting. The artificial sweetener grabs the unpleasant flavours of the drink, wrestles them into a malleable goo, and sticks them with great force to the roof of your mouth, allowing them to ooze slowly out over the next period of several minutes, along with the unpleasant flavour of soap and engine degreaser. Mmm. Tasty.

It's not as bad as I'd thought. I had predicted the artificial sweetener would kill it, and it kind of has. On the other hand, it's certainly not a total let down. I'll stick to non-sugar-free, myself, but if it's your fancy, then by all means, go for it.

Exotic beverage review: Pokka Milk Coffee

Terrible Chin Man makes an appearance on the Pokka can. There're no medical warnings on the can, but there is a warning that "the appearance of milk particles in this product is natural and does not affect the quality". This does not fill me with confidence.

I've sampled canned coffee before. There's the Dare Shot, made by the same company that makes Dare iced coffee, which is reasonably pleasant. I've also sampled a canned coffee called K'Fee, which was extremely unpleasant. So this should be interesting.

Pokka Milk Coffee is made by the same company that makes Pocari Sweat, the infamous Japanese sports drink. It's basically just an equivalent to Gatorade, but it's named after a bodily fluid, so who am I to argue?

It's dark. And slightly translucent. And, as the label on the can warns, it's covered in bits of floating debris. There're small milk particles covering the whole surface, and something that looks like an oil slick bubbling across it. Something tells me that my first sip of this stuff is going to include all of these bits and pieces. Mmm!

Yeah, that's a kind of filmy skin of milk crud on top of the coffee, there. Nice.

It smells like coffee. It also smells slightly like long-life milk, which I guess is to be expected.

It tastes like cold coffee. Not iced coffee, cold coffee. It tastes exactly like the dregs of a mug of coffee that you've left on your desk while you've scuttled off to take care of more important tasks.

I'm unsure if this drink is meant to be consumed cold or warm. I've heard rumours that Japanese vending machines sell the product warm, which would make sense, as it tastes as though it'd benefit from not being icy cold. I scoured the can for advice on temperature, but it doesn't give one, so I went for the safe approach of refrigerating it prior to sampling it. The Asian supermarket had refrigerated cans of the stuff available, so I figured they knew something I didn't.

There's a bitterness that's exactly the same as after a cup of strong coffee.

It's not the worst thing I've tasted. Every fibre of my being wants me to dislike this drink. It's Japanese, it's coffee in a can, it's a dairy product, it's brewed. It's also sold in vending machines in Japan, which puts it at about eight on the weirdness scale from one-to-schoolgirl-panties. However, it doesn't taste too bad, and assuming I don't collapse from intense intestinal pain within the next few hours, it appears harmless.

Exotic beverage review: HYPE!

HYPE(!) The Hype can has possibly the lengthiest product blurb I've yet seen on an energy drink. I quote below:


HYPE! should be kept safely out of reach of those whose conversation you do not enjoy! Drinking HYPE! before a BBQ may lead to excessive smack talking. Any action you get while drinking HYPE! will be purely coincidental. HYPE! is made with the finest ingredients like real elderberry juice, taurine, guarana, ginseng and caffeine. Look for HYPE! wherever things are happening. Open, sip, stay HYPE!"

Apparently HYPE! can be spelled either with or without the exclamation point. The can also suggests serving Hype ICE cold. Not ice cold, ICE cold.

It's kind of a reddish, rustish, orangish tomatoish colour. It's also really clear, which is quite refreshing, it's not milky or smokey like a lot of energy drinks.

HYPE! smells like an awkward blend of extreme refreshingness (which is probably from the elderberry juice) and vitamin-B, which makes me very curious about the flavour.

Damn, I was hoping it would be unpleasant. I've had an unusually lucky run of drinks that don't taste like ass, lately. Hype tastes like a pleasant combination of elderberry and fruitiness with a vague hint of vitamin-B lurking mischieviously in the bushes. It's not bad, really. It's also clearly got that weird bile-like taste that all pasteurised energy drinks feature, manifesting itself as a kind of petrochemical aroma. I'm grasping at straws to find something to dislike about Hype. Generally speaking, it's quite pleasant. It actually tastes slightly healthy.

Yeah, this one's best avoided warm. It's just vitamin-B and paint thinner, really. It also produces the same weird smell of superglue that V and Red Bull create when warm. There's something very unsettling about that smell.

Mm. The aftertaste is not so great. After the fruit flavour has dissipated, the vitamin-B rears its ugly head and belches unpleasantness on the whole parade. Also, the pasteurised weirdness is quite strong, producing a flavour I can only liken to one thing - the smell of fresh house paint. Mmm, painty goodness.

I suspect this is a drink that would be absolutely awesomely flavoured if it had no vitamin-B in it at all. I mean, aren't all the other weird and spectacular ingredients good enough without the one that makes everything taste like rancid, liquefacted celery? Celery and paint fumes abound in this one, but all together, it's not a bad energy drink. I give it four exclamation points. But I'm not going to type them, because that would be tacky.

Exotic beverage review: Red Lizard Energy Drink

It's pretty stock-standard. The can art is pretty awesome, though, their usage of Papyrus notwithstanding. The main unique ingredient in this drink is amino acids. However, "amino acid" is kind of a container term for all manner of wonderful (and mostly inert and useless) chemicals. If you're really interested, you can read this page on Wikipedia, which tells you absolutely nothing about them, but uses a lot of big words.

Red Lizard is a cliché energy drink if ever there was one. It meets the required benchmarks, thus:

Name involving a coloured animal Red Lizard. Red Bull. Blue Ox. Orange Gerbil. Whatever.

Contains useless ingredient In this case, amino acids, clearly included because "amino acid" is a yuppy buzzword for "magical ingredient", and because it gives the false idea that allowing the beverage to ferment in a primordial atmosphere may bring about the advent of new life. Probably in the form of lizards. Red ones.

I was hoping it would be red. But it's not. It's the same urine yellow as most energy drinks. It's incredibly carbonated, though! I can hear it fizzing as I type this.

At the risk of comparing yet another drink to the benchmark - it smells like Red Bull. Upon opening the can, there's a strong smell of chemicals, however. It's exactly the same smell as the aroma of black felt pens, before they banned the inclusion of xylene as an ingredient. You remember the smell that you could taste? Mmm. Xylene.

It tastes slightly floral. Its similar to Red Bull, in that it tastes like vomit, but in this case, it's slightly floral vomit. The sweetness is definitely stronger than other drinks of the same kind. Not bad, really. Incidentally, it's still carbonated wonderfully. If I could award a drink based entirely on its bubbles, this one would be ze winnah.

The aftertaste is slightly greasy, but still floral. Somehow the floral or soapy flavour carries into the aftertaste. I've had worse drinks. If I could be bothered to waste the money on it, I'd have a can of Red Bull handy to compare these drinks to, but yeah, a ) can't afford it, and b ) I really don't want to have to drink a can of [insert beverage here] and then a can of Red Bull as well. I'd die. And we don't want that.

It's another Red Bull clone, but it's sweeter and slightly less offensive. Either that, or I'm becoming adjusted. There's a frightening thought.

Exotic beverage review: V

"The long-neck's back!" This is the V bottle from 2005. The current model is more bullet-shaped. It's extremely yellow, quite like Red Eye Gold. Unlike the Red Eye beverages, which I use as a benchmark due to their superiority in most regards (i.e. taste), V retains its carbonation, rather than losing it entirely upon the bottle being opened.

V has a strong berry-like taste with a hint of medicine. It smells quite refreshing. Disturbingly, however, if you leave an open can or bottle of V in your car for a length of time, it emits a smell not dissimilar to superglue.

The flavour is quite strong. It tastes very much of berries, like some odd foreign fruit drink. There's no real taste evidence of vitamin B, which is a good thing. The berry flavour is obviously used to mask some of the other potential horrors in the drink. It's so strong it can actually make you squint a bit upon first tasting it. Overall, though, the taste is not unpleasant.

The berry-like masking flavour remains somewhat, presumably continuing to mask the vitamin B taste that's probably lurking beneath it. Due to the strength of the fruitiness and the fact the beverage remains carbonated, belching post-consumption revives the berry-like fruitiness considerably, and is not so pleasant.

It tastes strongly of berries. Blackcurrant, perhaps. No real bad tastes present, but the strength can be overwhelming. The stuff tastes quite pleasant mixed with lemonade, though.

Exotic beverage review: Power Booster

It's yellow, and the can is blue! This is the first of three energy drinks I was mailed from The Netherlands, courtesy of Kees Engels. I'm slightly daunted, but I shall soldier on! It's in a bright blue can, and the label is written in Dutch and French.

It's yellow and vaguely carbonated. It looks like essentially every other energy drink available.

Upon opening the can, one is greeted by an overwhelming onslaught of aroma, a weird combination of sweetness and medication. Up close, it smells identical to Red Bull, however. Bonus points for the incredibly intense stench as the can is opened. It's possible the smell of the beverage and the taste of the beverage aren't on agreeable terms, and at the first opportunity of freedom, the stink evacuates out of the opening drink-hole for freedom. I like to imagine the taste of the drink to be the type to talk non-stop about the brand of socks it buys and how they best fight food odour, while the smell of the drink clambers around the top of the can trying to evolve claws with which to pry open the egress.

Generic Energy Drink Yellow™.

Mmm...bitter Red Bull. It has all the "ACTUNG, I AM A CHEMICAL" flavour of Red Bull, but with a slight additional woody taste, and a bit of bitterness. It's as though it's slightly more organic than Red Bull, which is clearly manufactured in airtight laboratories on a distant moon somewhere. Upon further sippage, there's also a bit of soapiness present. If it wasn't for my ritualistic vigorous washing of the glass before pouring an energy drink into it, I'd say the flavour was akin to dishwashing detergent left in the glass. Not unpleasant, but..yeah, unnecessary. All up, the flavour is neither better nor worse than Red Bull, which places it wholly within the midrange of energy drinks in general.

The soapiness continues slightly after consumption. It tastes like you've just washed your hair and had an awkward shampoo/mouth moment during the process. It's not unpleasant, all told, but these tiny chips of disgustingness do slowly erode away an otherwise decent energy drink.

It's okay. It's nothing special. It's essentially Red Bull in a different can with a bit of soap and bitterness added.

Exotic Beverage: Monster Energy

It says pee on the can, and it looks like pee! Monster is one of the pack leaders in energy drinks, up there with Rockstar and Red Bull, and in Australia, with V and Mother.

It's in a huge can, and it has a sense of humour. All other points aside, this usually doesn't bode well for an energy drink. Adorning the starboard side of the can are the "5 good reasons to make a Monster Energy Drink". They are, as follows:

  1. We tried to make a relaxation drink, but everyone just fell asleep.
  2. Unlike liquor, there's no background check.
  3. It makes your urine go really cool colours.
  4. It doesn't claim to be good for you.
  5. Because size really does count.

So there.

It's yellow. Similar to beer. And similar to most energy drinks. Mmm, yellow.

Mm, fizzy.

It smells strangely inoffensive! It's vaguely reminiscent of Red Bull, but without the overwhelming stench of bile. It's similar to Red Eye Plus, but not as dairy-ish. So far, so good with this one!

Of all the drinks I've had lined up, waiting to try, this one made me most hesitant. Partially because it's sold in a huge can with a screaming man on it. Partially because I bought it in Newtown, Sydney. Partially because it's the only energy drink I've encountered so far to feature the word "urine" on the can. However, I'm disappointed. It tastes quite nice. It's by far more pleasant than Red Bull, my trusty energy drink benchmark, and it actually justifies the oversized dimensions of its can by being entirely drinkable.

There's also very little chemical aftertaste. Even the flavour of b-vitamins, the bane of all energy drink belches, is not present. There's a slight hint of fruitiness, but overall it's not unpleasant in any way.

I'm stunned. I totally expected a horrible, horrible drink. However, it's a pleasant, oversized drink that's completely drinkable.

Adrenalin - Exotic Beverage Review

It's named after a hormone. It's nice to find an energy drink that isn't obviously a Red Bull clone, after the recent onslaught of them that I've sampled. Adrenalin comes in a variety of flavours, including "orange" and "citrus", a flavour definition about as broad as "potato" and "tubers". The other flavour is "berry", which I wish I'd bought, but decided not to, feeling it was a pretty generic flavour for energy drinks and that citrus was sightly more unique.

It's the colour of radioactive urine. It's YELLOW. Not just yellow. In fact, not just YELLOW. It's YELLOW. And it's not carbonated, so there's no movement in it at all.

It smells like an intriguing (albeit slightly sickening) combination of Mountain Dew, lemon cordial, and Berocca. I get the feeling there'll be lots of vitamin B to be enjoyed in this one. Mmm.

To taste, it's vitamin-B flavoured Gatorade, really. It's slightly lemony at first, but it's overwhelmingly laden with vitamin B and the taste of wood and chemicals. It also seems to strip the lining off the inside of your mouth at the exact same time it sends some weird chemical message to your saliva glands, telling them to quit manufacturing saliva because it's harming the environment. Or something. It dries your mouth out like you're sucking on a piece of chalk. That said, the taste itself isn't that bad! It's just oddly textured and slightly weird.

It's like Homer Simpson's face.

Oh, God. Don't burp. For the love of Christ, if you feel a belch coming, compress it and make it come out someplace else. It's the most unpleasant form of reflux you can possibly imagine. Remember those herbal cold and flu tablets? The green ones, shaped like diamonds? I think they had red ones that were the "night" variant. They produced an unpleasant aftertaste of garlic, vitamin B and death when you belched. This stuff produces the same taste, but with a nice liquidness to it, reminding you that you just drank something that's chemically indiscriminate from yak piss.

I don't know what to make of this one. The concept is nice, it's basically envigorated Gatorade. It's nice that it's not carbonated, but I don't think it'd be of any benefit to slam this stuff down fast, as it'd probably throw your immune system into chaos. The flavour is quite nice, but the aftertaste and ultimate belching make you want to smash the bottle on a nearby hard thing and commit ritual hari-kari before any more of it millimetres its way up your eosophagus. Like I said, I'm not sure. I guess this is about average for an energy drink, all things considered. Nice taste, makes your soul ache.

As of 2013: Extinct. No longer for sale. What a shame, too.