Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quaff Review #16: Mana Energy Potion

Not all drinks are made equally. For the past fifteen installments of this series, I've taken a look at craft brews, microbrews, and interesting or generally unusual brews like, say, Sparks Plus. Still, they've all been brews, beers of some kind or another - but there's more to drinking than alcohol. Shock, horror, I know, but I thought it was time for a bit of variety - energetic variety.

The Canadian market for energy drinks has grown explosively over the last ten years. Back when I was in high school, I don't recall them being readily available at all - the best around was Jolt Cola, and even that got pulled off the shelves eventually for its "excessive" caffeine content, later going bankrupt. It wasn't until the early 21st century that I was first introduced to energy drinks in the form of Jones Whoop Ass Energy Cola, and even then I only ever found it in one particular store in Peterborough.

But that was years ago, and it's an energy drink world now, from Red Bull and Starbucks Doubleshot to the Happy Bunny-branded Spaz Juice, a can of which has been standing at the back of my refrigerator since 2010 - and then there's the specifically targeted kinds, for people who want their energy drinks to dovetail with their lifestyle.

Kinds like Mana Energy Potion - a kind of 50 milliliter energy shot "made by gamers, for gamers." It's actually two varieties, the blue Mana Potion and the red Health Potion, originally made available in 2008, online and in select brick-and-mortar retailers - more so in the United States than Canada, it seems. I found mine at Golden Age Collectables on Granville Street in Vancouver, and it's the only place I currently know of to find them in all of British Columbia. Admittedly, though, it's not like I've actually been looking.

The Mana Potion is on the left, and the Health Potion is on the right.

The marketing to gamers starts from the beginning, with the design of the bottles rather similar to Super Health and Super Mana Potions from World of Warcraft, though these potions seem to be wholly free of felweed and netherbloom. That's not to say that they don't contain a panoply of sheer stuff - it was actually by reading the Supplement Facts on the back of the bottles that intrigued me to these energy shots; if you've got a need for vitamins, these will set you up. For instance, the Health Potion contains one hundred percent of your daily value of Vitamin C... and 1600% of the daily value of Vitamin B6. Still, the real winner in this sweepstakes is the Mana Potion, which contains a staggering six thousand, six hundred, and sixty-seven percent of the daily value of Vitamin B12... which works out to four hundred micrograms.

Unlike other energy drinks I've encountered, there's no medical warning on these potions to restrict intake, presumably because there's not much there to take in - only fifty milliliters, comfortably shotglass-sized. The manufacturer's website recommends that intake be separated out by twenty-four hours, but just to be certain, I gave the Mana Potion a week to settle out through my system before starting in on the Health.

The Mana Potion is depicted in advertising as being a deep blue, and it is likely a function of the yellow of the shotglass that it appeared rather green once I poured it out. The smell is something rather outside my experience when it comes to drinks - the best I can reach for is that it was vaguely chemical. As for the taste, it begins with a sharp citrus flavor, but this is quickly overwhelmed by an incredible bitterness, beyond the league of everything I've reviewed here except for Earthquake High Energy Lager, and look how that ended up. To its credit the bitterness did subside quickly - though that was just the start. Fifteen minutes after I drained the potion my head was spinning, and I was left with a headache that lasted for a couple of hours and didn't really go away until I was able to get some nice outside air. Conclusion: absolutely vile.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached the Health Potion the following weekend - absolutely I tried these on a weekend, I wasn't about to go to the office not knowing what these would do. I expected bitterness, discomfort, and so on - what the Health Potion gave me was entirely different. Rather than the Mana Potion's vaguely chemical tang, the deep red Health Potion smelled almost like a used gym bag, and "saturated," as if there was a lot of stuff in it. The taste - is considerably milder than the Mana Potion, citrus-flavored but far weaker, and it's also rather sweet. It took a moment to figure out why it was so familiar - it tastes like cough syrup. Still, there was no noticeable aftertaste, and it didn't leave me feeling like hell afterward. The website states they don't need to be chilled, but put them in your refrigerator anyway. Cooling them down takes some of the edge off.

So that's it - though if this is the best all those warriors and mages have got to replenish their powers, don't be surprised when you graph the precipitous drop in their numbers. Americans will be able to find these at Fry's Electronics, f.y.e., Hastings, Hot Topic, and ThinkGeek, which for some reason cannot ship them outside of the United States. At Golden Age, they retail for $3.99 each, and this appears to be the base price... and honestly, beer is a hell of a lot cheaper.

ANDREW'S RATING: 1.5/5

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