Aftershock Red Sugar Free Energy Drink (Big Lots)

A 4-pack box of Aftershock Red Sugar Free Energy Drink, from Big Lots
A solid energy drink, though I also got a four-pack for $1.20, which always helps...

As most shoppers of Big Lots can attest, it can be feast for famine when it comes to certain products; sometimes they have them, and other times they don’t. Beyond that, even if they have a certain kind of item, they might not always have a good brand, or an affordable option; I don’t think there is any one aisle in the store where this theory is more apparent than the drink aisle. And, drilling the list down to even further specifics, energy drinks.

Unlike other things within their stores, there are no specific energy drinks that Big Lots carries in stock at all times. So if they haven’t had a buyout recently, then there’s generally very few (if any) to pick from. Ditto this if they receive in particularly good deals; I don’t seem to be the only one that frequently eyes Big Lots for my energy drink needs, because most brands don’t seem to last much longer than a couple of weeks.

Well, my local store was in the midst of another energy drought, offering up nothing except for questionable carbonated juices that happened to have the word “energy” on the label, but that had very little in the way of B vitamins or caffeine. I was about to give up hope, until I saw a four-pack of Aftershock Red energy drink. Upon closer examination, I saw that they were sugar free; I hate the way that usually effects the taste, which made me pause for thought, but I do appreciate that the crash tends to be minimal. Then I saw the price tag and all hesitation flew right out the window. $1.20 for a four-pack of energy drinks? That’s pretty darn good, even for the smaller 8.4 oz. cans (which is what these are).

Now, I have railed against “standard” energy drink flavors again and again (see above for latest example), decrying them for their similar tastes. Just by looking at the packaging, there was really no doubt in my mind what these were attempting to knock off, so I was expecting a regular energy drink flavor similar to the drink that “gives you wings”. True to form, that’s what I got. But what really surprised me is that, even though these are sugar free, there’s none of the usual artificiality or metallicness in the flavor that’s usually apparent in “diet” drinks. In fact, I would say that this tastes pretty much like a regular energy drink, which is pretty impressive considering that it’s made with sucralose, as opposed to gobs of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup.

As I have to mention in every one of these reviews, I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, so your mileage may vary, but I got a pretty good kick out of each can. Caffeine content is actually relatively low (at 79mg per 8.4 fl. oz) so those that drink a lot of coffee or other energy drinks might not get the same results that I did, but it did get me going for a couple hours. So it’s got taste, it’s got performance…and did I mention a four-pack was only $1.20? Easily one of the best deals I’ve ever gotten from a Big Lots store, but it’s a shame they are no doubt sold out by now.

Overall: 8/10. Even though these are sugar free, they taste pretty darn close to regular energy drinks, which is a pretty impressive feat, as much as I typically detest normal energy drink flavors. And they also gave me a pretty good kick, even with the rather modest 79 mg of caffeine per can (which they say is about the amount in a single cup of coffee); for the millionth time, I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine, rarely drink soda, and never drink coffee, so if you do, or aren’t, any of these things, then you might not feel it as much as I did. But where it really stands out is the price: $1.20 for four 8.4 oz. cans? Come on, that’s a steal that’s pretty much unheard of. Even at twice the price, it would be worth it, but when four cans are cheaper than one of most name-brand energy drinks, that’s worth an extra point or two. If you see these at Big Lots, jump on them; it’s one of the best deals I've ever gotten from there.