Balls was originally a gamers beverage as it was a designed a high caffeine drink. Hoby Buppert (1998 CNN Money interview) created the drink as an alterative to coffee as part of a college class project in 1997. He came up with a carbonated and non-alcoholic beverage made with guarana, a highly caffeinated berry native to the Amazonian rainforest. This root beer is no exception.
The original variant, Bawls Guarana, is packaged in a cobalt blue, non-slip glass bottle. Bawls EXXtra comes in a clear bottle. Both containers are covered in approximately 104 bumps for easier gripping.
The root beer was released in 2008 and has about 64 mg of caffeine in 10 ounces. This is more than Mountain Dew Game Fuel. Almost double a Dr. Pepper or Coke, (according to caffeineinformer.com). The bottle is labeled “Warning: This product contains high levels of caffeine”. Another example, Bawls has 6.4 mg/floz whereas Barq’s has 1.9 mg/floz . As far as energy drinks, KickStart is lower at 6.0 mg/floz yet Monster is higher at 9.4 mg/floz.
Now for the review. (Click here for information on the rating criteria and a table of all the root beer brands tested or to be tested.)
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Natural Guarana Extract, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Caffeine, Natural & Artificial
Nutrition information from the label (per 10 oz):
- 130 Calories (13 per oz)
- 35mg Sodium. (3.5 mg per oz)
- 36g Sugar (12%) of Daily Carbohydrates (3.6 per oz)
- 64mg Caffeine (6.4 mg per oz)
Aroma and Flavor – 1.25 out of 3 mugs
It is the use of high fructose corn syrup that caused me to lower the score by 0.5.
When I opened the beverage the aroma was outstanding! The taste was nothing special, but good. It has the commercial root beer taste (like A&W) and carbonization with an unidentified fruity aftertaste. I assume that may be the caffeine and Guarana? It left my mouth a little dry.
Head -- 2.25 out of 3 mugs
The head it one of the best I have tested. Full and frothy and lasted to the last drop. Its only negative is it impacts the overall enjoyment.
Zip -- 1 out of 3 mugs
The zip is actually strange. It has a strange sensation that leave the mouth feeling a little dry. While not disappointing, it is nothing special either.
Post Consumption Impression – 1 out of 3 mugs
This is a typical root beer. I would drink it again, but at breakfast. The caffeine punch was noticeable! When I get this type of caffeine buzz, I usually feel it when the effect is past through my internal organs. In fact, the buzz was such that I actually became dizzy and felt ill for several hours. Realistically, this is a solid energy drink that lacks the vitamins. While I enjoy energy drinks, I usually take 6-8 hours to drink one where I could not imagine that with a root beer.
Would I recommend this at 6.25 out of 12 mugs?
This is not the worse, but based on the effect it had on my internal organs and nothing special in taste, I am not sure it would be the root beer of choice for me. If this would not have such a solid head, it would still not be at the bottom of my rankings.