One of the cool things about living in the big city is the diverse cultures which make their home here. My latest foray into the crazy international energy drink scene was at an Armenian grocery store. Both of my parents came from around that area (Romania and Hungary), so I feel a particular tie to this kind of place. I stocked up on disgusting foam cakes, hazelnut filled bonbons, some weird tomato paste, a cool lemon soda with chunks of actual lemon in it and this cool Guarana energy drink - which according to its website is the most popular energy drink in the Serbian and Montenegrin Markets.
Besides this original flavor, in places in Europe they also make a super-strength version, as well as a holiday special and a Mojito flavor as well. I can say that those Serbs do know how to do an energy drink right - even if it is a little weak on the energy side.
I really get into the green packaging on this can - letting you know that it is all about energy while not dipping into cartoonishness or garishness, which it very easily could have slipped into. Instead, Guarana energy looks cool and slightly South American. It just has that feel, quite unlike its real home of Aranđelovac. Serbia. Aranđelovac is a small community, most known, actually, for the company that makes Guarana Energy, Knjaz Miloš AD. They certainly had enough knowledge to product a cool can - complete with a hooting owl to promote sleeplessness as a good thing. Functionally, the can does well enough. They list caffeine and all the other goodness, and even do it in English too - which is not common for foreign energy drinks. I thought it was pretty cool that in a crazy grocery store in a strip mall I would find such a cool looking Brazilian Serbian energy drink.
I was expecting a cheap Red Bull clone from the outset, as most international drinks - especially ones named after caffeine, taste like Red Bull/Monster/etc... While I was kinda right on the flavor profile, it was not really was I was expecting either. I have tasted real guarana from real guarana berries (thank you ebay), and Guarana actually tastes like Guarana! While there was definitely the sour apple citus berry bubblegum flavor that energy drinks have, there was a whole lot of real guarana flavor in here, something I have never really seen in a drink here in the US.
Now the Buzz was completely what I expeced. Like most drinks sold in Europe, their caffeine in drinks are controlled by the government, and they make sure they are going ofver the prescribed 75ish mg of caffeine per 8 ounce can. Unfortuantely, downing a 75mg can of caffeine, no matter how smooth and tasty, just is not going to give me the staying power I really need for an energy drink. Maybe if I downed 2 or 3 can of this I would be feeling some energy, but a can of guarana is equal to one shot of espresso. It is enough to get me to my next fix, but just barely. I saw they have a Black version on their website (which is helpfully in English too), which ups the caffeine ante. I am guessing I am going to need to hunt a bit more to find one of those though.
The energy mix in here is not bad, although it could use a bigger boost. There is the usual taurine Vitamin B complex in here, along with a small dose of Vitamin C because why not. The ingredients also seem to include Aroma and Vitamin Mix, and a preservative too. But thats OK - it is a long trip from Serbia to the denver strip mall, and I want it to taste fresh. Turns out that Guarana is not Serbia most selling energy drink in Serbia because it might be the only energy drink company in Serbia, but because it is a truly great energy drink - if a bit small for my American tastes.