REVIEW: Red Bull Winter Edition Pomegranate Energy Drink

Red Bull Winter Edition Pomegranate Can

I need to take a moment to mourn the passing of my all-time favorite Red Bull variety: Cranberry.

2012-2020

Cranberry Red Bull, just as I was beginning to get to know you, you suddenly left. Literally overnight, you packed your bags and were gone forever. Replaced by that tart Watermelon, you were the perfect Red Bull. I will forever miss you and just wished I could have said goodbye….or at least bought a case.

Seriously, Cranberry Red Bull just left the shelves with no warning. While the other flavors are fine, none have come close to filling Cranberry’s shoes. Even calling the Watermelon the “Red Edition” hurts to see and has led to a few moments of false hope. Usually, when seasonal versions are announced, they don’t catch my attention. This year’s Winter Edition, however, immediately caught my eye: Pomegranate.

Pomegranate-flavored foods tend to walk a very odd line flavor-wise. Real pomegranate tends to be naturally sweet but also quite tart with an earthy quality. As a result, fake pomegranate flavors are usually overly sweet to compensate for their tartness. I know that this flavor wouldn’t completely replace my beloved cranberry, but I had high hopes it would be in the same realm.

Red Bull Winter Edition Pomegranate Glass

The pomegranate scent was very strong when I opened it. Smelling it reminded me of those funky-shaped bottles of pomegranate juice. The earthy juice smell the fruit is known for was very pronounced. This was promising as it made me hopeful it wasn’t going to be cloying.

Well, I’m happy to report, it exceeded my expectations. It has a wonderful balance of tart pomegranate flavor that tingles my cheeks with enough sweetness to enhance the fruitiness. While it’s easy to enjoy as is, it’s certainly a drink that was made to be a mixer.

This Winter Edition doesn’t replace my precious Cranberry, but it’s easily the best flavored Red Bull that’s been released in quite some time. Pomegranate is a hard flavor to get right, and I think Red Bull managed to do so without it being too tart or too sweet. I can foresee this being a popular base for winter/holiday cocktails/mocktails. In fact, I think it would make a good faux-mosa (orange juice and Red Bull Pomegranate) for Christmas breakfast.

Purchased Price: $2.50 (on sale)
Size: 12 fl oz can
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 114 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: ZOA Energy Drink

Zoa Energy Drink Cans

I will watch pretty much anything with Dwayne Johnson’s name attached to it, so I guess I will also drink anything with Dwayne Johnson’s name attached to it. Because here we are with me trying out the Original and Original Zero Sugar versions of an energy drink that he helped develop.

Well, it’s not as if he didn’t put on a sleeveless lab coat and helped formulate energy drink samples in his trailer between Fast & Furious takes.

ZOA is available in several flavors that I’m too lazy to look up. I decided to go for just the Original and Zero Sugar Original versions because if these are bad and I bought every variety, I didn’t want to experience the spectrum of horribleness, even if it has Mr. Johnson’s name on them.

But I’m happy to report that these are okay. I know that’s not a glowing endorsement, but flavor-wise there’s nothing unique about them.

Zoa Energy Drink Glasses

If a flavor dictionary existed, the “energy drink” entry would taste like this. Remember when energy drinks first started getting popular and brands were popping up everywhere, and most of them tried to emulate Red Bull’s sweet medicinal flavor? Well, these taste like something from one of those brands. Not exactly like Red Bull, but something Red Bull-esque and less cloying. Also, the sugar-free version (sweetened with sucralose and ace-K) tastes better than the one that has sugar. The Original one has an unpleasant extra medicinal bite at the back end that’s a bit off-putting.

So if these taste like energy drink’s early years, what separates this from others, besides possibly being formulated using Dwayne Johnson’s arms as an industrial mixer? For one, it’s marketed as a “healthy” energy drink.

What does that mean?

Well, I’ll just copy over what it says on the ZOA website. It’s made with Camu-Camu berries and Acerola Cherries that provide 100% of your daily Vitamin C and antioxidants. Branched-Chain Amino Acids are added to help with muscle growth, electrolytes are included to keep you hydrated, and choline is in them to boost metabolism. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 are also included. Finally, it uses natural caffeine, which means it gets it from green tea and green, unroasted coffee beans.

Cool?

Original and Original Zero Sugar ZOA Energy Drinks are decent tasting ways to get 160 milligrams of caffeine into my body. But I’d probably only repurchase the sugar-free one again. Also, because they aren’t horrible, I’m curious about the other flavors.

Purchased Price: $2.49 each
Size: 16 fl oz cans
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Original), 6 out of 10 (Zero Sugar Original)
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) Original – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, 22 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein Zero Sugar Original – 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Red Bull Summer Edition Dragon Fruit Energy Drink

Red Bull Summer Edition Dragon Fruit Energy Drink Can

As far as I’m concerned, it ain’t summer until Red Bull says it is.

Well, good news, that new Red Bull Summer Edition just dropped, and we are now in the midst of a Dragon Fruit summer.

Ah yes, dragon fruit, the magical fruit that hatched into my life about twenty years ago. We’ve all probably tasted dragon fruit in some form, but none of us have actually ever eaten a dragon fruit. Yes, I speak for everyone here. You’ve never had a dragon fruit, nor has anyone you know. If you dispute this claim, I regret to inform you that you are living a lie.

My introduction to dragon fruit – which should be one word – was in the early 2000s when I went through a 2 bottle a day Vitamin Water Power-C phase. Remember when we lied to ourselves about the health benefits of Vitamin Water, only to find out it was essentially melted Skittles with good marketing?

Well, I’m drinking a Red Bull, so I guess times haven’t really changed.

Anyway, I loved the flavor and was pretty pumped to see Red Bull utilizing the fiery fruit of legend.

Red Bull Summer Edition Dragon Fruit Energy Drink Label

I found the green can to be an odd choice, but then figured it was probably a tribute to the cosmic beings who brought dragonfruits to this planet. Because if you’ve ever seen an artist’s rendering, it’s clearly alien.

Red Bull Summer Edition Dragon Fruit Energy Drink Purple

When I cracked the can to a welcoming hiss, I was met with the wafting scent of an Ocean Spray mixed juice cocktail. It looked like one too. The cough medicine purple-ish color was possibly the darkest I’ve seen in an energy drink.

As far as the flavor goes, it brought me right back to those Vitamin Water days. It’s extremely vibrant and spritzy as you’d expect. The dragonfruit taste smacks you in the face at first, but transitions into an unripened berry sourness. I’d say it was almost like a mix of unripened strawberry and raspberry.

Unripe berries are a major buzzkill for me, but the flavor works in an energy drink. I’ve had some Red Bull flavors that left me flat and unsatisfied, but this one really did “revitalize my body and mind.®”

It started sweet, got sour, and finished with a Strawberry Life-Saver aftertaste.

I’d say dragonfruit is the perfect flavor to represent summer because it made me wanna cannonball into the nearest body of water.

For a fake fruit that looks like a pink fireball stuffed with vanilla bean ice cream, dragonfruit really does have a great flavor that definitely works in carbonated form.

Perhaps I will one day trek out into whatever treacherous jungle dragonfruits allegedly grow in and partake of the fruit itself, but for now, I’ll just pick up another can.

Red Bull Summer Edition Dragon Fruit Energy Drink Glass Can

This Red Bull gave me wings… and also an earworm because, for some reason, I’ve been singing “Red Bull, Red Bull” to the tune of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” since I drank it. I hope I can now pass that on to you, my fellow dragonfruit non-eaters.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12 Fl. Oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 125 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of total carbohydrates, 38 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Rise Energy

MtnDewRiseCans1

MtnDewRiseCans2

Remember when Mtn Dew Kickstart debuted back in 2013? I do because there was a little hubbub about it being marketed as a morning soda, causing, I imagine, nutritionists across the country to roll their eyes. Oh, I also remember because I reviewed the first two flavors.

Although they had around 80 milligrams of caffeine, they weren’t considered energy drinks because, according to Mtn Dew, they didn’t have the same ingredients, like guarana and taurine.

Well, Mtn Dew Kickstart is getting some inter-brand competition from new Mtn Dew Rise, which ARE energy drinks marketed to be consumed, as you can guess from its name and some of the flavors available, in the morning. While they’re energy drinks, they also don’t contain guarana and taurine. But they do have zinc and vitamin C to help support immune function, and citicoline, which, combined with caffeine, helps improve concentration.

Speaking of stimulants, a can of Rise has 180 milligrams of caffeine, which, I believe, is the most in a single-serve Mtn Dew product. As someone who likes Monster and Rockstar energy drinks with triple-digit caffeine levels, I appreciate all that sweet, sweet caffeine.

The line has SIX varieties —- Tropical Sunrise, Peach Mango Dawn, Berry Blitz, Pomegranate Blue Burst, Orange Breeze, and Strawberry Melon Spark. While these names sound exciting, I should mention that if you’re a consumer of all Dew, or a conDEWmer, if you will, many of these will taste familiar to you.

MtnDewRiseTropical

Let’s start with my favorite, the pineapple-flavored Tropical Sunrise. I prefer it over another pineapple energy drink introduced this year — Monster Energy’s Ultra Gold. While the Monster offering has 15 fewer calories and no sugar, Tropical Sunrise has just 25 calories, 4 grams of sugar, a more robust fruitiness, and 30 more milligrams of caffeine. This also brings up memories of one of my favorite Dew varieties — Maui Burst.

Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) – 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

MtnDewRisePeachMango

Two flavors I like equally, but not as much as Tropical Sunrise, are Peach Mango Dawn and Strawberry Melon Spark. The former has a pleasant, but artificial peach aroma and flavor with mango lingering in the background. I’ve never had a peach mango beverage before, but now that I’ve had one, I need to try more.

MtnDewRiseStrawMelon

Strawberry Melon Spark is a combination of strawberry and watermelon. It tastes familiar to me, not only because of the delicious, recently released Mtn Dew Major Melon, but because of SuperNova, the strawberry melon-flavored Dew that came out in 2008 as part of the DEWmocracy campaign to determine the next permanent variety. It was my favorite of the three flavors participating, but it didn’t win. That honor went to Voltage.

Rating: 8 out of 10 (Peach Mango Dawn), 8 out of 10 (Strawberry Melon Spark)
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) Peach Mango Dawn – 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein. Strawberry Melon Spark – 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

MtnDewRisePomBlue

MtnDewRiseBerryBlitz

Speaking of Voltage, I swear the Pomegranate Blue Burst one tastes like it. I was expected a bit more tartness from the pomegranate, but the sweet blueberry flavor tempers it. Berry Blitz tastes like it has blue raspberry with maybe a bit of blueberry. It has an almost cotton candy-like aroma and taste, which is also what I wrote when I reviewed Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel Berry Blast. Samesies?

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pomegranate Blue Burst), 7 out of 10 (Berry Blitz)
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) – 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

MtnDewRiseOrange

Orange Breeze, as you can guess from its name, is orange-flavored. It’s the only Rise variety that has juice concentrate from the fruit it’s supposed to taste like. (The others get their juice from white grape juice concentrate.) The orange flavor is decent and has a slight sourness. This is the only one that tastes morning-appropriate, so I guess you can replace your OJ with OB as part of your balanced breakfast.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of sugar, 0 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

All six varieties use acesulfame potassium and sucralose as sweeteners to bring down the total sugar levels. Even though there’s not much of it (5 percent), the juice does help these from completely tasting like diet drinks. Also, because they’re not overly sweet or syrupy, they’re easy to drink.

With the caffeine content hitting triple digits and decent to good flavors, Mtn Dew Rise might be a better way to kickstart your day than Mtn Dew Kickstart.

Purchased Price: $24.99
Size: 12-count, 6-flavor sampler pack
Purchased at: Amazon

REVIEW: Monster Energy Ultra Gold

Monster Energy Ultra Gold Can

What is the Monster Energy Ultra Gold?

It’s a sugar-free, golden pineapple-flavored energy drink that’s part of the popular Monster Energy Ultra line, which includes such flavors as Watermelon, Fiesta, Rosa, Paradise, Violet, Red, Blue, and Black.

How is it?

Well, I know people are going to disagree with me about this because I’ve had folks tell me that this is one of their favorite Monster Ultra varieties. It’s good, but not great because I wish the pineapple flavor was stronger.

Monster Energy Ultra Gold Closeup

The perfect example of the pineapple potency I wish Ultra Gold had is Pepsi Pineapple. It tastes like I climbed a pineapple tree with a tall glass of Pepsi, grabbed a fruit, sliced off its skin, and squeezed its flesh so that its juice flavored the cola.

I know some of you are going to say I’m completely wrong about the level of pineapple in this energy drink, much like many of you are going to say I’m completely wrong about pineapples growing on trees. But I can taste how it might be just right for others.

(Side note: I find it funny that pines are a type of tree and apples grow on trees, but pineapples grow on short plants.)

Anything else you need to know?

I know it’s just a color, but the Monster Energy Ultra Gold Energy Drink can is a pleasure to stare at. It’s a gorgeous gold. Also, when I look at it, I imagine it’s the result of C-3PO getting recycled.

Conclusion:

Monster Energy Ultra Gold smells divine, but its fruity flavor is too light to my liking. With that said, it’s still a tasty way to get 150 milligrams of caffeine into my bloodstream, and it’s good enough that I would repurchase it.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 16 fl oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of erythritol, 0 grams of protein, and 150 milligrams of caffeine.