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.