(by John Craven and Jeff Klineman)
We’ve tried a lot of energy drinks, but prior to today, we’ve never made our own. So, when SodaClub.com offered to send us one of their soda club units and their new energy drink mix, we jumped at the chance.
So, today the SodaClub “Edition 1″ model soda maker arrived at our office. It being a nice quiet Friday and all, we decided to crack it open right away. The Edition 1 kit, which retails for $109 and includes starter mixes and CO2, had everything we needed to make our own carbonated drinks.
While we were intrigued by the various flavor combinations (cranberry cola, anyone?) – and now understand just how little work goes into coming up with a line extension – what we really wanted was energy, so that’s the flavor we chose to start with. Fortunately, they provided us with energy syrup, as well. It looks – and pours – like laundry detergent.
We began by docking the bottle onto the CO2 nozzle, screwing it in, and hitting a little button that forced CO2 into the water. We hit it many more times, apparently, than the instructions call for, because we didn’t realize the bubbles would actually disappear into the water (nor did we read the instructions too closely…oops). That’s because we occasionally slept in Chemistry class. (Sorry, Mrs. Nolan).
That meant immediate, catastrophic, overfillage….
Fortunately, there is always a lot of swag laying around the BevNET offices. Although we might have been lacking energy drinks, we had plenty of promotional energy drink brand t-shirts to sop up the explosion.
Our own little Soda St. Helens under control, we tried the product. Amazingly, it tasted pretty similar to Red Bull, immediately earning us 2 stars in the BevNET review process. The explosion of the energy drink had another unwanted effect – everyone in our office flocked to the scene, looking for free energy drinks. We quickly welcomed them to the soda club. Not wanting to anger them, we complied with a smile… and prepared to throw in the next batch.
For Batch #2, we tried something different: a flavor mixture. Specifically, we mixed 3/4 shot of “energy” mix, 1/2 shot of “cranberry & raspberry” mix, and 1/2 shot of “lemon lime” mix. The result was a cornucopia of flavors that was syrupy and sweet, with a nice energy finish. It was so good, in fact, that we’re contemplating closing down our publishing business and starting up our own energy drink company.
As for the straight CSD flavors, we found them comparable to store brands. Not bad, but not great either.
Anyway, our overall take — as you might read from the tone of this post — is that SodaClub’s soda maker is a fun product with that has some serious novelty to it. As far as everyday use goes, it might be save you some coin over retail prices, but then again, this isn’t exactly for the impulse drinker since you can’t take it with you…