Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review for Redline Xtreme Shot--Watermelon


300 mg


I can’t remember whether I bought this at Walgreens or Rite Aid—one of those drugstores.  Either way, it shouldn’t be too hard to find.


It is entirely appropriate that these should be found so consistently in drug stores, because as products they lie far more on the dietary supplement/drug end of the spectrum than the bona fide energy product end.  When it comes right down to it, they don’t really look all that much like energy shots—they’re not terribly flashy, there are no claims of energy awesomeness slathered haphazardly all over the label, and enough warnings, supplement facts, etc. to rival any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug on the market—and there’s really nothing wrong with that; I don’t think they should be viewed by the consumer as such.  Aesthetically, there’s not much to talk about; functionally all their ducks are in a row.  What more is there to say?


It’s times like these I think that VXP should consider releasing their Redline products exclusively as pills—for one thing, they are for all intents and purposes pharmaceuticals, and for another it would keep them from releasing products that taste like this.  There is something very perverse about this—watermelon is a happy, summery flavor, crisp and juicy and sweet and fit for all ages.  This…this is an apothecary of supplements and artificial sweeteners and flavors in watermelon masks prancing around and urinating drunkenly on your tongue (I think that’s about as vivid as I’ve ever been in describing a flavor—I like it).  Don’t be fooled by the innocuous-looking watermelon slice graphic wrapped around the top portion of the bottle—there only enough of a semblance of watermelon flavor in here to prevent the company form being charged with perjury.


And now…we get to the final and most conclusive evidence of the true, nature of Redline products.  Your standard energy products (ideally) tend to be geared towards making you feel awake, sharp, and focused, maybe even a little jittery.  Redline, on the other hand, goes way beyond that.  You feel the full supplemental blast of all 20-some odd constituents of the proprietary blend, much as though they were being administered in pure form via IV.  It sits like a pool of energy magma just beneath the surface, never erupting in full force, but slowly rising to the periphery as you shake and buzz and do whatever else it was you intended to do under its influence.  Take my advice and only drink half the bottle (I drank the whole dang thing), and only for prolonged, intense physical activity.  This really isn’t suited for anything else.


Another good reason to only drink half the bottle is the fact that the whole thing will last you seven full hours, assuming you’re as caffeine-sensitive as I am.  When it comes right down to it, most people don’t need seven hours of this kind of energy—unless, I guess, you are in really good health (see the label for contraindications) and are involved in construction or some similar career.


What am I supposed to say?  When it comes to supplements like these, speaking of the flavor as enhancing or taking from the overall experience seems kind of pointless; either you’re looking for dead serious energy or not—if so, I guess you could go with this or any other Redline shot, if not seek your boost elsewhere.

KEYWORDS: Redline Xtreme Shot Watermelon review, zero carb, zero calorie, zero sugar

Review for Hansen's Energy Pro


The site claims that it’s only 57 mg of caffeine, but even they admit that the actual quantity is unavailable, lost inside the drink’s 2500 mg functional blend.  I’d guess it’s closer to 75 or 80 mg.


Like all of Hansen’s other inexplicable efforts to broaden its energy drink base (notwithstanding the fact that they’re the makers of Monster, which is about as big a base as you can get outside of Red Bull) by appealing to niche consumers, this one is sparse at best; your best bet is to find it at grocery outlets (Yoke’s in Washington, for instance) with a larger-than-average specialty beverage selection.


Not by any means ambitious, but there’s certainly no ambiguity as to its purpose.  If all you really care about is knowing that this is an energy drink, then you probably have no complaints whatsoever about this can.  If, however, you like the feeling of holding something that someone 1) put effort into designing, or 2) discloses the caffeine content, you might feel a bit insecure with this in your hands.


Again…not very ambitious, but very to the point—you know what the makers of this beverage were going for when they made it, and don’t deliver any more or any less.  In this case, they’ve put out a full-bodied lemon-lime drink—a little bit sweet and not quite sour enough, but if there is such a thing as a consumer niche of aficionados for such beverages, I’m sure that they’re going to be all over this one.


And here’s why I don’t believe that this contained a mere 57 mg of caffeine—because it works just fine.  It’s not remarkable—delivering about as much of a kick as a Red Bull of the same side, only without the mental focus and a few more jitters—but it does the trick, assuming a moderate boost is all you need.


About two hours and 15 minutes passed before I felt that I’d be down for a nap, or something a little stouter in the energy department (but since I’m not addicted and trying not to get addicted again I can’t do that sort of thing anymore).


I’m not wowed by Energy Pro, but I’m sure that there are people out there that will be.  If you’re into drinks like what I described above, grab a can and let me know what you think.


KEYWORDS: Hansen’s Energy Pro energy drink review

Review for Havoc


Somewhere around 70-80 mg/8.4 oz. can


Found this at a Grocery Outlet in Twin Falls, Idaho—same place where I found Shark, EX, etc.—for 50 cents.  No idea where else you’d go besides the website (where you buy them by the entire freaking case, if you feel thus inclined).


The major failing of this packaging job is the fact that it appears to have been assembled entirely out of energy drink can clich├ęs, and as a result is very nearly invisible on the shelves—I didn’t even catch it on my first run down the energy drink aisle, something that never happens.  Let’s break it down, bit by bit, so you get the idea (if not terribly interested, just skip to the last paragraph):

1)    Black background.  Has been employed effectively in times past, but by and large it’s just a second-lowest common denominator (right after bare aluminum), fallback sort of color.
2)    Distressed font.  Terribly overdone.
3)    Very lame slogan—“Disrupt the Ordinary.”  Catchphrases like that all too often tend to signify anything but out of the ordinary.
4)    Bare-bones energy blend.  With the plethora of functional beverages on the market formulated for all manner of situations, this one-size-fits-all trash is now long obsolete.
5)    No flavor indicated.

In short—Havoc looks like it should be another Red Bull clone.  Now, it’s not—we’ll get to that in a second—but Havoc pulls the part off so thoroughly completely that it almost appears as though it were the work of madmen trying to fool the masses (newbie and seasoned reviewer alike) into thinking that it was, in fact, such a thing.


I was so ready for another Red Bull clone—so freaking ready.  I had my rant all planned out, venom dripping from my fangs, poised and ready to strike at the audacity of releasing yet another traditionally-flavored energy drink in a market almost completely inundated with mediocre examples of the same.  All of that went away when I opened the can, along with just about any preexisting desire to drink it—Havoc has the smell of crisp, very sweet piss.

I don’t use this description lightly, and I do not exaggerate.  If you’ve ever wondered what sparkling diabetic’s urine smells like, get yourself a can of Havoc and pop it open!  Now…moving on to the taste (Yeah, I drank it even after observing it smelled like urine…what can I say?  I’m an energy drink reviewer to the core.), Havoc doesn’t necessarily taste like piss (if you’re ever had the experience of being the father of a newborn boy and changing his diaper, you can imagine what horror proffered me that knowledge), but it tastes like the company did the best they could with the flavors of apple, pear, and grape juice to approximate it as best they could.

While I am confident saying that this product in all likelihood does not contain actual urine, it’s close enough that I wouldn’t even consider recommending it for any reason.


Not that there’s any real reason to recommend it, foul taste aside.  The boost is pretty miserable (enough to wake you up, but not enough to really be able to benefit from or enjoy it), and about what you’d expect given its stripped-down functional blend.


Maybe an hour, hour and a half.  Slight crash.


Don’t even think about it.


KEYWORDS: Havoc energy drink review

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reveiw for 5 Hour Energy--Raspberry


200 mg


Emerging.  Anticipate seeing it just about everywhere in time.


As much as I love seeing the 5 Hour Energy running dude sprinting up mountains, I find it hard to find fault with this one.  If you’re not going to go with the usual, it makes sense to saturate the bottle with colors deep and agreeable enough to make up for it.


5 Hour Energy is actually getting pretty good at this.

When I initially went through the company’s lineup last year, I freaking hated them—the energy was pretty good (okay, okay, I’ll admit it—the energy was insanely awesome, with the exception of that extraordinarily useless ‘Decaf’ shot), but they tasted abysmal.  It was almost as though making an energy product both concentrated and tasty was impossible, and the company had resigned itself to the fact and was selling them at a ridiculous price.

Such is not the case with these new shots.  5 Hour Energy has not grown complacent as the industry leaders—it seems as though they’ve recognized the bitter and sickeningly sweet shortcomings of their previous product and have been busy finding ways to make it so that their new products are not brought down by them.  In this case, you have a product that 1) almost tastes like actual raspberries, and 2) lacks a lot of the aftertaste that made earlier shots so hard to get down.  It’s still there to an extent, but this shot still represents a major step in the right direction (maybe just a bit less of one than their Extra Strength Sour Apple shot), and is actually starting to make a 5 Hour Energy fan of me.


5 Hour Energy shots are not exceptionally intense, though they are exceptionally effective.  If you’re looking to get wired out of your mind, go elsewhere.  If, however, you are looking for the feeling of being fairly awake under your own steam and fairly alert and focused (a really excellent energy state to find one’s self in, let me tell you), this is absolutely the way to go.


The original strength 5 Hour Energy is true to the namesake—need I say more?


If these recent releases, with their relative palpability and high efficacy, can make a fan out of me, I think they are well worth consideration on the part of the general public.  Try this one—newbie and 5 Hour veteran alike—and let me know what you think.


KEYWORDS: 5 Hour Energy Raspberry energy shot review, low calorie, sugar free

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review for Muscle Monster--Vanilla


157 mg


When I first found these, they were in that obnoxious impossible-to-find-for-everyone-but-me stage of distribution—if you’ve ever tried to find Monster Energy—M3, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Having travelled a bit since that day, however, I have seen them just about everywhere—seems that I was just in the last place in the freaking continental US to get them.  Hate it when that happens.


As I indicated in my review of the chocolate offering, the lighter the background of Muscle Monster products get, the lower the quality of the print—in this case, the iconic Monster M and that awesome “MUSCLE” spanning a lower portion of the can don’t do a thing.  The yellow-ish can is ugly and cheap-looking, and I can actually see casual consumers turning their nose up on this in favor of one of the tastier-looking dark cans.


The pre-drinking turning up of the nose, as it turns up, would be entirely appropriate.  If, as you are scoping out the different Monster beverages in their ginormous fridge, you feel the inclination to pass this one over, I encourage you to follow that.

Muscle Monster—Vanilla is gross.  It seems as though I’ve been over a thousand adjectives in my head, and I keep coming back to that one.  Having turned out perfectly delicious energy shakes in the forms of the coffee and chocolate flavors, I can’t for the life of me figure out what they were thinking here.  It tastes like cheap, almost-sour tapioca, and is very hard to choke down.

If my experiences with drinks like this is in any way indicative of the future of this particular beverage, you can probably expect to see it populating the shelves of Big Lots soon.  In my opinion, it can’t get there soon enough.


Having been through this with other two more delicious beverages, I almost feel as though I don’t need to go through this again—but here we go.  This is a perfectly stout Monster Energy beverage, a bit heavy for anything but weightlifting but functionally adequate for the purpose.


Three and a half hours (about), slight crash.


Drink one of the other two, skip this one.

KEYWORDS: Muscle Monster Vanilla energy shake review

Review for 5 Hour Energy Extra Strength--Sour Apple


I get conflicting reports on the caffeine contents of these shots—I’ve been told that these Extra Strength shots contain anywhere from 200-250 mg of caffeine, with the most credible source (Consumer Reports) listing the content at 242 mg.  Maybe I should check with the company proper to find out if they’re into officially disclosing that sort of thing—If even Monster’s doing it now, 5 Hour Energy should only be able to hold out for so much longer….


I may seem scattered for now, but I guarantee you that there is probably somewhere in your town selling it now, whether it’s Wal-Mart or a local grocery store or a gas station.  Even if it isn’t, just give it a few days.


One of my favorite things about 5 Hour Energy (funnily enough) is the look.  Even if I’m not wild about shrink wrap, I’m big into cardio, and I’m big into sunsets—so a runner sprinting up a mountain at sunset can’t be anything short of awesome in my book.  Unfortunately, this new shot doesn’t have any of those things but the outline of the runner—with an inexplicable camouflage background.  I would get it if this were anything about the flavor that was directed towards hunters (deer musk flavor?) or if a portion of the proceeds went towards PTSD treatment for veterans of the U.S. Military (please note the worthiness of that suggestion, 5 Hour Energy folks), but as is, the whole thing looks kind of thrown together without apparent thought—albeit neatly.


In times past, I’ve made clear in no uncertain terms my distaste for 5 Hour Energy and its multitudes of clones, having generally found them to be foul-tasting and badly overpriced.  Well, I might still begrudge them the $3.49 I spent on this (it was NOT purchased at Wal-Mart), but I cannot deny that as far as flavor is concerned, this is a most successful offering and a definite improvement over the shots they’ve released in the past, especially of the Extra Strength line.  First things you notice once you open the shot are 1) the distinct, unadulterated smell of sour apple, and 2) the same general appearance as their berry shots—call me crazy, but I don’t think that apple shots or apple products in general should be faint pink in color.  The first swig is pretty intense, a blast of sour apple flavor and energy ingredients and artificial sweeteners.  Small swig after small swig, however, things start to even out—the apple really starts to come out, crisp, convincing, and thoroughly pleasant.  If it lasted a bit longer I would feel perfectly comfortable awarding it a solid 9/10; only problem is that a second or so after you swallow you are hit with a real sledgehammer of an aftertaste, so overwhelmingly sweet that one is almost tempted to attribute it to stevia—except there is none.  Anyway, it’s disagreeable enough that I’m docking two points for it, but notwithstanding, I can guarantee you I’ll be coming back to this shot again—even though it makes me feel really unprincipled to do so (I’m supposed to hate this brand, remember?).


It’s interesting what improving the flavor has done for the perception of these shots—in times past I would admit that they perform well, but my praise was lackluster and grudging because of what I had to go through to get the caffeine into my system.  Having completely enjoyed the flavor, however, I feel much less restrained in my praise—this stuff is glorious.  No more than five minutes after the fact I was buzzing like a boss, performing necessary household labors, completing hour-long runs, and going about my day-to-day routine in an exponentially enhanced but non-jittery fashion.  I may be forced to admit—it’s not just because they were the first that 5 Hour Energy is considered the best.


Amazing, also, what not being a hardened caffeine junkie has done to my caffeine sensitivity—I think five hours is a more of a safe guess for consumers partaking of the “moderate” quantity of 400 mg a day.  Now blissfully enjoying being non-addicted and caffeine sensitive, I got about six hours out of this.  Lovely when a shot outperforms all expecations!


I’m impressed—and coming from a fairly consistent energy shot hater (better yet, a loather—is that even a word?), that really is saying something.  Regardless of what energy seeker niche you fill—shot hater like me, casual consumer, seasoned energy connoisseur—this is absolutely worth a try.  Swallow your pride, fork out the cash, and enjoy the flavor and that wondrous caffeine rush—and please, do leave your thoughts.  I really am interested in seeing the public consensus on this one.


KEYWORDS: 5 Hour Energy Extra Strength Sour Apple energy shot review, low calorie, sugar free

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review for Muscle Monster--Chocolate


157 mg


Looks like this one is finally making its appearance in the mountain west—all you folks in civilized territory can probably look forward to finding it without difficulty now.


Call this one another successful packaging endeavor on Monster’s part, though maybe not quite so much as their coffee-flavored offering.  Like the latter beverage, the light-colored M and bold, metallic “MUSCLE” work wonders to instill the consumer with optimism regarding its marketed function as an energy/protein hybrid, and the light brown swirl in the background might be the most delicious-looking yet—the shade reminds me of a Healthy Choice Fudge Bars, which stand as one of my all-time favorite chocolate products to date.  Something I do notice is that the lighter the background gets, the more pixel-y it looks—seems that the quality of the print deteriorates the lighter you get.  It’s merely noticeable here—wait until we get to the vanilla flavor.  Then we’ll really have something to talk about.


Like chocolate protein shakes?  You’re going to love this one.  I’d go so far as to call this the best I’ve had to date—it’s thick, rich and flavorful, plenty smooth, not too sweet, and not at all chalky considering the generous quantity of protein.  Honestly, good enough that I would be perfectly happy going for it if I found myself in the mood for a chocolate shake—or if I found myself in the mood for chocolate in general (prior, of course, to a trip to the gym—see below).  It’s that good.


In terms of energy, this isn’t going to let you down, and it would probably work in a plethora of situations—but I should say that the drink itself is heavy enough that I wouldn’t even think about drinking it for anything but powering you up before your strength-training regimen.  Just not the sort of thing you can drink for whatever whenever.


Delivers a ballpark of three and a half hours of energy, with a slight crash after the fact.  Not a problem if your trip to the gym and your classes (for all you students out there) take place early in the morning; you should be through with them by the time the effects dissipate.


It’s absolutely a niche drink, but I can’t think of another beverage that fills it so well.  Tastes very good, packs a punch, and as far as substance has more than enough protein to meet your needs.

KEYWORDS: Muscle Monster Chocolate energy shake review

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review for Muscle Monster--Coffee


157 mg


I have been freaking trying to find these freaking things for freaking months!  I can’t for the life of me figure out what strategy Monster had in mind when they released these—they hyped them up for months beforehand, but when that time of release rolled around, I couldn’t find them anywhere (contrast that with the Rehabs, Zero Ultra, etc.).  My fellow reviewers were evaluating them left and right, but it didn’t seem to matter where I went—they were nowhere to be found (across three states, I might add).  Anyway, that’s the way it stayed until the other day, when they showed up at Wal-Mart out of the blue (funnily enough, the presence of an energy drink at Wal-Mart typically connotes ubiquity).  Chances are when I head back to Idaho it’ll suddenly be everywhere short of auto parts stores and Victoria’s Secret (the latter of which does not stock anything containing sugar), but until then I’m playing it safe and calling its availability limited.


One of the things that probably contributes to Monster’s lasting success is the fact that 90% of their gazillion beverages look really freaking nice—Import actually kinda looks imported, Rehab—Orangeade looks genuinely bad*ss, Zero Ultra is as sharp as they come, etc.  This offering is no exception—the dark, swirling background has a way of suggesting smooth shake deliciousness, the Monster M works its usual magic, and the bold, metallic “MUSCLE” seems to communicate utility in a gym setting—in other words, my kind of drink.  An additional point goes towards Monster’s recent inclusion of the drink’s caffeine content on the can—a very nice change from their previous haughty refusal to do so.


I’m not a coffee drinker.  Never have been.  You’ll never see me review a coffee energy beverage on this site—personal reasons aside, I feel that such needs to be left to people who know what they’re talking about; I probably couldn’t tell the difference between a cup of Blue Mountain coffee from a Java Monster.  That being said, I do enjoy things that are coffee flavored—cappuccino Jelly Bellys (spelling intentional) in particular.  Well, think of this thing as a giant, 15-oz, smooth, delicious cappuccino Jelly Belly—plus 25 grams of protein (sans chalkiness) and lots of energy stuff (sans bitterness).  It’s the sort of thing that coffee aficionados might turn their nose up on (Big Red Boots excepted) for the flavor and the general lack of coffee, but for a non-coffee guy like myself, it sure tastes good.


In a word, I’d call this ‘solid’.  Monster is kind of funny when it comes to their energy drinks—about half of them consistently work wonders, the other half don’t do much by way of energy at all; even when I first started reviewing energy drinks I found the original Monster to be grossly overrated in terms of kick.  Not the case here—you need something to drag your sleepy backside out of bed, give you a morning nice dose of protein, get you out the door, and have you hitting the gym like it’s your…subordinate, you can count on a Muscle Monster.


Got somewhere between three and three and a half hours out of this.  Slight crash, but definitely not a deal-breaker.


Good taste, lots of protein, plenty of caffeine…yeah, I could see myself occasionally integrating this into my pre-lifting routine.  Give it a whirl and leave your thoughts.

KEYWORDS: Muscle Monster Coffee energy shake review

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review for Guayaki Organic Energy Shot--Lemon


140 mg


If you live in a fairly populous area, you should be able to find this at the local Fred Meyer.  If not, then there’s a good chance your location might not carry it.


Nothing to write about here that I haven’t written about before.  It’s nice to see a company take their packaging so dang seriously (at the expense, it seems, of other things…).  The label is very tidy and well organized, the colors bright and attractive, the brown bottle nothing if not impressive, and the caffeine content is listed.  Hits all the right notes in my book.


When a company decides they would like to produce their product in a certain flavor, one would think that their primary consideration would be making it taste like the flavor they’ve chosen.  The first thing wrong with this shot is that it doesn’t taste a freaking thing like lemon—the closest you get is a sour sensation towards the end of the experience; for all I know it could have been vinegar in the shot.  If that were the only thing wrong with it, I could envision a scenario in which this would merely merit a slap on the wrist, and I could move on.  Fact of the matter is, though, that things get even worse from there.  The shot is just plain nasty—bitter and ridiculously earthy and very difficult to get down.  I’ve indicated this before, but I think it’s worth bringing up again—just because something is organic or all natural or in the raw or whatever doesn’t mean it has to taste bad.  I’ve had plenty in the food and beverage department that has been nothing short of fantastic, and it’s been pulled off without compromising the principles the preparers/producers have regarding healthy nutrition.  That said, there is really no excuse for something of this caliber in the flavor department.


Funny thing I’ve noticed about these shots is that their performance is pretty average if you’re using these for anything but rigorous physical activity—enough to wake you up, but not a whole lot beyond that.  But when you take one of these before a long run—man, they pep you up.  I’m not sure what makes the difference, but it’s significant enough that I can safely say that every organic-minded, taste bud-deficient, rich and exercise-savvy individual will find something to appreciate in them.


Regardless of what you use it for, you can count on three hours of energy out of these, after which no crash should be expected.


I liked the kick, but not enough to fork out another $4.00 for something that tastes so bad.  Overall, I’d find something else to supply your caffeine buzz and pass over this line altogether.


KEYWORDS: Guayaki Lemon energy shot review, all natural, organic, kosher, fair trade certified, blah blah blah
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