21 September 2017

Monster Hydro - Red and Green (Beyond The Tracks, Birmingham) @bttfestival by @NLi10

Free stuff is just the best.  Walking into Birmingham's new Beyond The Tracks festival on the Sunday we were given four brightly coloured bottles of the new Monster Hydro Drink.  While I consider the hyper-calorific hyper-stimulant drinks to be a massive public health problem that is far more dangerous than alcohol, on a day out where I'm likely to need more stimulation and energy I think these are fair game.  

I mean its not like I'm going to be drinking these on a daily basis - even if these are the non-carbonated 'hydration' versions.  So what makes them special?

It's the next generation of refreshing energy drinks of course! Well, that's what the blurb says.  It's only lightly sweetened so it doesn't taste like organ failure anymore, which is nice, but there is still far too much artificial crap in here to be anything other than oily sugar-water.  Why bother triple filtering the water when you are adding 11% glucose syrup and coconut and rape seed oil?  There are a few token vitamins, but they don't add D for some reason - is that too helpful?

But that's not what these are here for, we aren't supposed to be enjoying the drink or getting nutritional benefits - these are basically legal highs and as an arthritic man at a festival I'm going to require all the stimulation possible to make it through to the main event.

The flavours are "Melon Bacardi Breezer" and "nondescript green" and are both forgettable.  Yes - you get a slight initial caffeine buzz like you left the teabag in for too long.  Yes - after a while the body metabolises the other caffeine derivatives and the fatigue appears to be gone.  I stood at the front (as in right by the barrier) for Wild Beasts and had a good time.  There was not much dancing (it's a festival, you always seem to be surrounded by people essentially waiting for the later bands), or knowing of the songs by most people near me, but I had a little sing and recorded some 4K video for later remembering purposes.  Thing is, i never once got any pleasure from drinking these. Poccari Sweat is a joy to drink, and even the ones that thought they reduced stress and acted as brain training had interesting flavours.  The job of these is to make you not notice that you finished them and to then just crack open the next one and keep gaming (i mean partying with the cool kids - honest).

It's worth mentioning at this point that the festival itself was really well organised and a pleasure to attend.  The food on site was cheap for a festival, and even the drinks were good value.  I found a little yellow van selling pizza.

£7 for a pizza with real ingredients on it that was freshly cooked and took a lot less time than expected was pretty good.  This would have been £10 at Latitude!

Yes - they didn't slice it effectively enough (despite me asking) so it was a faff to eat with my malfunctioning hands in a field but the flavour (club sandwich - chicken AND Bacon) and ingredients were spot on. No complaints.  I recommended it so throughly that my partner had one (veggie) before the main event.

Editors are always good live, and while I don't get the same nostalgia hit from the new material they did talk about the old days in Kings Heath and the Flapper so I felt appreciated too. As you can tell from the barrier I'd flashed my wobbly person credentials at security by this point and moved my chair on to the accessibility platform (as there was a lot of space and by this point the Monster had worn off).

I think I drank about 1 1/2 of the Monster bottles and made it through about 4 hours of the festival before crashing which isn't actually all that long.  Maybe i'm just too tired, and maybe I needed the extra sugar that the cancer-can versions with all of the unnecessary calories provide.

We gave the other two bottles away to curious work colleagues and I have no intention of ever paying for this.  It just wasn't nice or that effective.  It's like a more grown-up version of Sunny Delight where there is a lot of things in there to make it a habit forming drink.  I'd probably not recommend it to anyone.

Unlike the festival - we should all go on the guitars day again next year - it was fab!

20 September 2017

Thor Dry Apple and Ginger Spritz (@DegustaboxUK @thordrinks) By @SpectreUK

I'm still hobbling around on crutches after an operation on my knee and sort of stuck upstairs through sheer wobbliness trying go up and down them. So I asked Cinabar to find me a suitably healthy blog out of all the snacks and drinks I have piled up downstairs. She came back with this Dry Apple and Ginger Spritz, from Thor Drinks, in London. Described as having a 'blend of apple and warm spice', Cinabar probably couldn't have found a healthier sounding drink. However, as I'm up here and she's down there, I'll have to take her word for it!

On opening the bottle there was a pleasant fizz from the carbonated water in the ingredients. There was an instant juicy apple smell from the pinkish liquid inside. The fizz got up my nose sniffing the bottle opening too much to retrieve much more than the mildest of hints from the ginger. Oh well, it did say 'warm spice', whereas I'm used to fire breathing bottles of ginger beer that burn the hairs in my nostrils. No super ginger spice was warned or promised of here, so I couldn't expect any. Having said that, a warm spice there was indeed. This warm spice tickled my nose hairs on first taste which mixed with the juicy sweet apple, and ran straight into the aftertaste. This is a very refreshing, lightly fizzy, tasty apple and warmly spiced drink. I'd recommend over ice, but I haven't been given a bell to ring and my phone is just too far away to hobble to…

Information on the label;
This 275ml bottle contains 69 calories, with 0g of fat, 0g of salt and 15.7g of sugar. Ingredients included; carbonated water, apple juice from concentrate (6.5%), cane sugar, natural apple flavouring, natural ginger flavouring, citric acid, and natural food colourings.

19 September 2017

Morrisons Sweet Cola Ketchup (@Morrisons) By @Cinabar

When Spectre looked at this bottle he didn’t quite see anything significant, but all ketchups are sweet he remarked. Then his eyes scanned the bottle correctly and he saw the word “Cola”, and I could tell he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. What a curious idea from Morrisons, Sweet Cola Ketchup. It is in their own brand range too.
I love cola, I drink it quite often and like it is different varieties, vanilla, citrus, etc. It is unusual for a food product to be flavoured with cola though, and I haven’t seen cola in a ketchup before. First try I decided to have it with chips, what better way to try out a ketchup?
The flavour of the cola was still predominantly tomato, but there was a definite tang of cola, giving this a heavier aftertaste. It wasn’t far off the rich flavour of molasses you might associate with a brown sauce, but was still sweet and full of tomato so I still rather enjoyed it. In theory I don’t like brown sauce, but for some reason I really enjoyed this ketchup, it is sort of a half way house. Sweet like ketchup, but tangy enough for brown sauce fans to enjoy it too. I have tried Morrisons Sweet Cola Ketchup with steak and chips, and it worked a dream. I have also had it on a bacon and egg sandwiches and it was pure heaven. I’m hoping this isn’t a novelty and it stays available on the shelves for some time to come.

18 September 2017

Kettle Discoveries New York Deli with Pastrami, Dill Pickle and Mustard (Sainsburys) By @cinabar

I think we are quite lucky in the UK when it comes to new crisps flavours. Whenever I browse the crisps aisle in the supermarket I’m always excited about some new flavour, which is impressive considering how many crisps we've written about in the past. These sounded particularly fun and like quite a complex flavour. Trying to pack in all of the ingredients of New York Deli with Pastrami, Dill Pickle and Mustard onto a single crisp sounded like it was going to be rather impressive.

We were sharing the bag so I poured some out onto plates to have with our mix of sandwiches. The crisps are fairly thickly cut, and a good size. The aroma from them was mild and just a little herby.
One of our food testers didn't know what the actual flavour was and so blind tested them, barbecue she guessed. That sounded a bit odd so I tried one too and had to admit there was a deep smokiness to these crisps. They had a tang of gherkin from the dill pickle, and a nice herby flavour, but what I couldn't pick up on was the pastrami. This was a shame as I love meaty crisps and felt that element was lacking or just too mild. Don't get me wrong these are not bad crisps. The mix of herbs, pickle and smokiness made them very enjoyable. For me though I didn't think there was enough pastrami or meatiness to the flavour.
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