Let me start out by saying I'm not the energy-drink type. I luckily never got hooked on any of the popular brands before becoming more health conscious, and after learning about what's in them, I became even more pushed away by the idea of them.
So if you're seeing this review at first-glance and cringing because I drank some energy drinks, I understand.
But let me also ask you to keep reading, because I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by this brand, as I was. If you look at their certifications, you'll notice that Dark Dog Organic is both USDA organic and non-GMO. Okay, cool. You can have those labels and still fill your cans with crap. It's just, you know, organic crap.
But not these guys. Not only have they found a way to make a long-lasting energy boost in a can, they did it using a safe level of caffeine from natural sources, which are also organic and non-GMO. That's pretty cool. Besides that, these babies are also packed with naturally-derived vitamins, many of which are the easy-to-forget B vitamins so many of us are lacking. All flavors of Dark Dog have 100% of your daily value for Thiamin, Niacin, Riboflavin, Folic acid (all of the above are various B-vitamins), vitamin B6, and vitamin C. That definitely caught my eye!
So, they're loaded with vitamins and have good, well-sourced ingredients. Let's check out each flavor individually.
Daaaaang you're telling me this is all-natural ingredients? No freaking way. Flashback to when I was in middle school and learned what Monster was. That stuff is awful for you but we always wanted to drink it because it was cool and our parents told us it was awful for you.
Yeah. Remember that stuff? This tastes exactly like it. Without the disease. Hashtag blessed.
Ingredients: Carbonated water, organic cane sugar, organic lemon juice, organiccoconut flower sugar, natural flavors, natural caffeine, vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), organic rosehip extract, organic ginger extract, organic mursalski tea extract, vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin b5 (Pantothenic Acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B9 (Folic Acid). Each can contains 114mg of natural caffeine, for sustainable energy boost.
Okay straight up this stuff tastes like orange soda. In the best way possible, because again, great ingredients label. I never even liked soda when I was little so I have no nostalgic ties to the stuff. WOW They nailed this!
I'm sorry that my words are lacking on this one. Let's just say: favorite flavor of mine. Get it.
Ingredients: Carbonated water, organic cane sugar, organic blood orange juice, organic lemon juice, organic black carrot juice, organic coconut flower sugar, natural caffeine, natural flavors, vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B9 (Folic Acid). Each can contains 114mg of natural caffeine, for a sustainable energy boost.
I was skeptical when I heard that one of the products on this line was a reduced-calorie drink. To each his own, but in my experience, calorie-counting is not nearly as effective for weight loss as many believe it to be and calories don't all count the same, despite popular belief. Usually "reduced calorie" translates to "we added a bunch of fake sugar-like shit that's actually worse for you than just eating the sugar." Not here.
Dark Dog Organic did a great job using the high-quality ingredients they'd originally pledged themselves to and simply used less sugar. To replace some of the missing sweetness, you'll see that the ingredients list is longer with a larger variety of organic extracts from sources like acerola fruit and elderberry juice. By cutting the sugars, they cut the calories. Simple as that.
As far as taste goes, I had a huge wave of nostalgia with the first sip of this bad boy because it reminded me of something from my childhood. I couldn't pinpoint it at first, but about halfway through the can I realized there is something in here that gives a flavor that reminds me of those pre-made Kool-Aid drinks that were shaped like old-school Coca-Cola bottles. I used to L O V E those when I was little. I don't mean that to sound degrading to this flavor at all; it was quite the opposite, really. I was honestly just impressed that hint was somewhere in such a natural drink when Kool-Aid is anything but natural.
This flavor and the next one were very interesting to me because they were both drinks that cut the amount of sugar in half compared to the first two flavors, but still totally satisfied me. I think that's note-worthy!
While I love fizzy mineral water, and there's plenty of carbon in this, the taste was still one I needed to work on accommodating myself to. If you're into counting calories (which I am SO over), then this is a great alternative for you. It'll keep your count down, energize you, and make you feel more full because of the carbonation, even with half the calories of the regular flavors. Just know that it won't be as sweet as you're expecting.
Ingredients: Carbonated water, organic cane sugar, organic elderberry juice, organic yerba mate extract, organic coconut flower sugar, organic acerola fruit extract, organic green tea extract, organic lemon juice, organic guarana extract, natural flavors, organic cranberry extract, vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B9 (Folic Acid). Each can contains 114mg of USDA certified organic caffeine, for a sustainable energy boost.
With Coconut Water
This is the latest addition to the Dark Dog family, and I'm so glad they've added it on. This flavor also has 50 calories, plus loads of other good-for-you vitamins and natural energy sources, such as green tea and guarana extracts.
I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of the flavor of coconut water. This drink mixes it with a few other tastes (lemon, yerba mate, etc) so it's not quite as strongly coconut water-flavored as, well, coconut water. But it wasn't my favorite taste. I will say the other extracts cut away some of the mucous-like taste I usually have in my mouth after drinking pure coconut water. It grew on me the more I drank, but I'm just not a huge fan of coconut water. Funny, since I love everything else coconut! But if you're one of those people who's into drinking straight coconut water, this is the flavor for you.
Ingredients: Water, organic cane sugar, organic coconut water concentrate, carbon dioxide, organic yerba mate extract, organic lemon juice concentrate, natural flavors, organic coconut flower sugar syrup, organic acerola fruit extract, organic green tea extracts, organic guarana extract, vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothennic Acid), vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B9 (Folic Acid). Each can contains 114mg of natural caffeine, for a sustainable energy boost.
I love that these drinks take care to include a huge variety of natural vitamins (especially those B's! Look at all of 'em!) I'm not a huge fan that there is still quite a bit of sugar in them, even in the 50-calorie flavor and coconut water flavor (also only 50 calories). However, as far as energy drinks go, I've got to hand it to them. The care Dark Dog Organic took to make sure they had top-of-the-line, certified organic & non-GMO ingredients is a sure-fire way to blow their competition out of the water.
As far as use goes, I tended to use them around my workout routine (because what else do I do?) I tried each of them as pre-workout for various types of exercise. What I found was that these are great before a resistance day, like weight lifting. Drinking these about 20-30 minutes before exercise is best, and you don't feel a caffeine drop afterward because it's not a huge dose.
I didn't feel so great having them right before a run. That latter fact could be due to having extra liquid and carbonation in my stomach while my body didn't want to deal with it, which isn't the drinks' fault but just the fact that any digestion is stalled during hard endurance events.