NASCAR driver Kyle “Rowdy” Busch has started his own energy drink company, directly going after the mainstream Red Bull(s) and Monster(s) of the world with a little different attitude. Canned energy drinks for people that have some regard for their internal organs? Not sure if this philosophy can hold up considering the NASCAR fan base, but what the hell, this looks like fun. I ordered a sample pack of four cans from RowdyEnergy.com and it was delivered as quickly as it’s owner drives, so it would seem that we’re already off to a good start. Let’s take the cans for a spin around the track and see if we can keep it off the wall.
Given the brand logo and cans I’ve seen in promo shots, the Cherry Limeade seems to be the flagship flavor. While not zero sugar, the nutrition facts sport 90 calories and around 18 grams of sugar…not bad for this industry. The cans look sexy as hell and in my hand I feel like a pretty cool dude walking around with a can of Rowdy. Stupid as that is, let’s move on to the actual drink. The smell is a little sickly, but nothing different than you’d have with a can of Monster. I took a small sip and I recoiled at the aftertaste. I was just about to give up on this first flavor but decided to give some to my wife. I poured her a healthy sip and she downed it, much to her pleasure. I thought about it for a second and realized that I was sipping from the can like a bitch. I stepped up to a good healthy rip from the top of the can and I was sold a different story. The cherry/lime mix is refreshing, and while the aftertaste of low sugar will sting every now and then, this looks like a great option for a slightly less horrible energy drink. One flavor down, three days to go.
Due to these being energy drinks and all, I’m not drinking all four of these in one sitting. I started the Cherry Limeade on a Sunday, so the Orange Citrus would be my first live test during the work week on Monday. I popped open the can on my way to work and had a similar first experience to the Cherry Limeade, but this time around I was better prepared for the taste. It’s like you have to program and calibrate your mouth the first couple sips on each can, but once you’re off and running things start to taste more like you want them to. The orange smell is pleasant, and the taste is reminiscent of orange soda. I’m not sure if there’s such thing as diet Orange Crush, but this would have that same vibe. I replaced my morning coffee with this can, and I feel I gained about the same level of focus as if I had gone with my trusty cup of black. I’m not feeling any of those Monster Energy style jitters, and I actually got a lot done for a Monday morning once I started work. Two days down, and it’s onto the –shudders- sugar free options next…
Sour Green Apple (0 sugar)
I am a man who loves his sugar. While actively cutting back, I’m still the sort of person that would have cut out sodas altogether rather than drink a diet or sugar free version of a popular drink. Needless to say, the two remaining sugar free Rowdy options weren’t leaving me with much optimism, but by gosh I’m still a drinks journalist. It’s time to break the barrier. Cutting down to 15 calories, and 0 grams of sugar as advertised, the natural flavorings were going to do most of the work here. The smell of the Green Apple is my favorite so far, as it’s no different to me than a vat of green apple flavored Jolly Ranchers. This one also has the nicest front half of taste profile, as the flavor is refreshing and powerful. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the weird mutant aftertaste that stays present on the tongue when drinking stuff like this. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always hated it. Sitting at my desk I’ve been taking a nice firm swig of water when the aftertaste gets too much, and that’s probably for the best. I’m killing two birds with one stone, and water with energy drinks is always the right choice. I’m a little more wired today, but that may also be due having energy drinks 3 days in a row. One more to go, let’s see if Rowdy can complete the sweep…
Strawberry Lemonade (0 sugar)
The fourth and final flavor in the Rowdy Energy bundle is the Strawberry Lemonade. Again a zero sugar that’s going to rely on the natural flavoring. I’m usually not a fan of anything strawberry flavored, but the citrus mixed in as the “lemonade” seems to make this one more palatable. The flavor isn’t quite as refreshing as the green apple, but my tongue doesn’t feel like a bitter twitchy mess either. It’s taking me all day to drink this one though, as I’m not as in love with the flavor as the other three. Room temperature brings out a more pleasing profile though…and I still get to look cool as hell carrying the can around.
Verdict: Rowdy Energy drinks offer an interesting taste selection that provide everything you expect from an energy drink without all the sugar. The options are unique in both flavor and sweetness, different not only to themselves but to the competition on the market as well. It’s an interesting feeling carrying the attractive white cans around. I don’t feel like a Monster Energy “Kyle” gunning to punch my way through a sheet of drywall…but there’s still some sense of unease. As the mainstream learns more about this product’s roots in NASCAR and its famous owner, I can only venture a guess as to the kind of reputation I’m fixin’ to have sporting the big “R” around town. It’s too late for me though, I’ve already ordered my first 12 pack! Get Rowdy, y’all!
Follow Matt on Twitter for soft drink opinions, NASCAR musings, and forbidden book reviews.