As a huge fan of caffeine, I look to include it in many of the drinks I consume daily, even when it comes time for alcoholic beverages.
I was a huge fan of Sparks Malt Liquor back before they retooled the formula to remove all the 'energy' ingredients. I've been looking for a suitable replacement for a while now, disregarding the campaign to halt these types of beverages. Recently NY Senator Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the FTC asking the agency to investigate the beverage companies' marketing practices because he says the colorful cans attract kids. (I agree, wholeheartedly)
Well, on a recent visit to the neighborhood bodega, I discovered some (large) cans of Four Loko, the new 'energy-infused' malt liquor/alcopop. I paid $3.24 for a 23.5 ounce can, with 12% alcohol by volume. Quantity is equal to 2 beers (nearly 24 ounces), but with the increased alcohol, you can expect a bigger buzz. I'd say a single can is equivalent to 4-6 standard beers, depending on what you drink. Most cheap beer is 3-5% alcohol, some micro-brews offer 6-9% alcohol.
The awful neon camouflage packaging is there to attract the eye of it's main consumers: young drinkers. If not for the 'contains alcohol' emblazoned on the rim of the oversize can, this might at second glance appear to be a fruit juice or sports drink. Also, it's fruity flavor helps hide the alcohol bite, making it a excellent transitional drink for teenagers just starting to drink socially.
Brought to us from the Drink Four Brewing Company in Latrobe, PA. I'm suspect it might be using the same water as Latrobe's other famous export: Rolling Rock Beer, but since they've been bought by Anheuser-Busch in 2006 and the primary brewing now happens in New Jersey, I imagine they might be using second hand equipment from the old brewer.
With 3 varieties of flavors, it's time to do a good old-fashioned taste-test!
Blue Raspberry Flavor
With my first sip of these new drinks, I chose the Blue Raspberry flavor, mostly cause it sounded interesting. I imagined the flavor of a blue freezer pop, only to be very disappointed.
It has a distinct apple cider taste with a raspberry twist of flavor, add sharp fermentation bubbles to mask the poor mixing of flavors, and a distinct malt liquor aftertaste. There's no intermingling of flavors, and none of them is really delicious nor refreshing. When poured out of the light-proof container, the sickly blue color makes it less appetizing - it looks akin to window cleaner (which is dyed blue to discourage drinking....)
Overall, I found this flavor to be pretty disgusting, and that was even before I could take a look at it. So bad, I never finished this can of Four Loko. Maybe we'll have better luck with another flavor.
I was hoping for a flavor substitute of the classic Sparks Orange, but was alternatively disappointed and surprised by the flavor.
At first sip, it has a light orange flavor start, almost a Tang taste, to be replaced by the bitter alcohol/malt liquor (and a strong citric acid flavor to mask this) with sharp bubbles to hide the strong caffeine bite. This drink is good on ice (as the watering down makes the bite less painful).
It's neon-orange color is best hidden inside it's opaque can. It leaves the distinctive 'Sparks Tongue' artifact, making even the most uptight teetotaler look like a kid sucking down juice boxes with an orange tongue. I imagined the same fate had I finished the Blue Raspberry Flavor, leaving me with a blue tongue.
Caveat: I tried this one last, therefore you can assume I was pretty blitzed from drinking the equivalent of 8 beers. When it comes to Bang for the Buck, Four Loko will get you buzzed! This flavor is called UVA, which is pretty oblique. With a purple colored can, I expected a grape drink malt liquor. I was highly surprised at how good this one tasted!
Overall, this drink reminds me of the classic Welches grape fruit juice, same tart bite, same dry aftertaste. No bitter malt liquor or caffeine flavors competing for flavor. It's dark enough to belie it's origins, sweet enough to enjoy too many of them without thinking. My personal favorite! With a very dark purple color, you could fool anyone into thinking your drinking a cola.
As I may have been under the affects of being drunk when I sampled this flavor, I may update this review once I re-sample another day.
Check out my review of 8 of the 9 flavors of Four Loko: Lemonade, Watermelon & Cranberry Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Lemon-Lime, Blue Raspberry, Orange Blend, and UVA:
Darwin Theory Winners
Below are links to the anti-Four Loko news reports where they find the dumbest individuals around, and make a news story of how they got drunk, and lost control of themselves. I don't know whether to complain about the news reporters who consider a hangover 'news', or the idiots who lose control when they drink too much. The re-occurring theme here is college students, who have heard years of warnings of binge drinking, to deaf ears.
Four Loko is as Dangerous as the dumbest Individual Drinking it!
- This dumb 100 lb. girl from Maryland, who drank two, according to CBS News (even I can see the trouble brewing when a tiny girl drinks the equivalent of 10 beers)
- Villanova University railed against it, calling it “Liquid Cocaine”
- All of Michigan has banned it, according to CBS news
- NBC chimes in that local college students at St. Joe's can't control their drinking, either.
- University of Rhode Island banned it, according to NPR.
- In a surprise move, Harvard (the last bastion of smart kids?) also warns their students via the school newspaper.
- According to the Chicago Tribune, Arkansas (the state) may follow in Michigan's footsteps, and ban it outright
- Old People drink it and don't like it either, according to ABC