Review: Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint

Back in 2007, Pepsi sponsored Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 car via its Amp Energy drink brand. Since making the connection, the drink line grew 127.5% in 2008, with volume sales up 52.1%, outperforming the category. Over the last 110 races, Earnhardt has only won twice, but continues to be the most marketable NASCAR driver, pushing Amp from 6th place to 4th place in the energy drink game (behind Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar).

Is it any surprise that Pepsi would rollout a limited-edition Dale Earnhardt Jr.-branded flavor to capitalize on this marketing success? Introducing Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint.

Amp Energy Tradin' Paint

This addition to the Amp Energy lineup is a combination of 3 flavors: orange, lime, and berry… or using NASCAR parlance, the flavors are running “3 wide”. Yeah, you are supposed to interpret this as something that you’d get if these 3 flavors collided into each other, as the name suggests, they were “Tradin’ Paint”.

Now, before I get into this review, I should mention that I have nothing against NASCAR, mainly because its marketing prowess fascinates me. I also have relatives who follow the racing rather closely, traveling to various races throughout the year. And no, they aren’t your Southern hick stereotype that are typically associated with NASCAR. (Hey, I’ll admit that I even purchased NASCAR Kart Racing for the Wii… and it’s a lot of fun!) All this to say that the heavy NASCAR branding that is found on Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint didn’t really influence me one way or another. It definitely was not a negative reputation.

It was nice to see another new Amp Energy flavor so quickly released after the last 3 we recently got earlier in 2009: Amp Energy Lightning, Amp Energy with Green Tea, and Amp Energy with Black Tea. These joined the Dew-inspired original and its cherry-spinoff Overdrive, along with 2008′s additions of the grape Amp Energy Traction, berry-inspired Amp Energy Elevate, and orange-infused Amp Energy Relaunch.

To date, I’ve been pretty impressed with the taste and flavor experience of the Amp drinks, primarily because they taste more like a standard carbonated soft drink, rather than an energy drink like Red Bull, Monster, or Full Throttle. The citrusy Mountain Dew heritage is very obvious in the Amp formula.

Before I opened the can, I wondered to myself what the combination of orange, lime, and berry would really taste like… or, for that matter, what color it would be. I was surprised to discover the drink had a yellowish tone, just like regular Amp or Mountain Dew. Didn’t see that coming.

As for the taste, it’s rather hard to describe, mainly because the blend makes is hard to pick out particular flavors. I will say I found the drink quite tart, with an emphasis on the berry flavor more in line with Amp Energy Elevate. I could not sense any real orange influence, but rather noted the traditional Dew citrus taste, along with a bit of sourness from the lime. But overall, you are talking mostly about a berry flavor here. Despite not being able to pinpoint the exact flavor, it was quite good. No bitterness was present and the drink was quite smooth and drinkable. Aftertaste was a tad bit syrupy, but not overly so, given that it is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Like the original Amp Energy and Amp Energy Overdrive, Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint contains ginseng (17 mg per 8 oz. serving vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 10 mg), taurine (148 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 10 mg), and guarana (124 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 150 mg). It also features maltodextrin (74 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 55 mg) and the same amount of sodium (65 mg vs. Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 65 mg, Amp Traction’s 70 mg, Amp Elevate’s 65 mg, Amp Relaunch’s 110 mg, Amp Lightning’s 70 mg).

Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint contains more caffeine than the original Amp Energy and Amp Energy Overdrive, breaking down to 10 mg/oz., in comparison to Amp/Amp Overdrive’s 8.875 mg/oz. (Standard Mountain Dew contains 4.5 mg/oz., while Red Bull has 9.64 mg/oz. and Monster clocks in with 10.00 mg/oz.)

A full ingredient list is as follows:

Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor, taurine, guarana seed extract, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), sodium hexametaphosphate (to protect flavor), caffeine, maltodextrin, gum arabic, niacinamide, panax ginseng root extract, calcium pantothenate, calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor), brominated vegetable oil, riboflavin, Blue 1

The can design models the look of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 car, mainly green and white, with red “88″ numbers. It emulates the look of a car with lots of scraps on it, including blotches of orange and blue on the green color scheme. A facsimile of Earnhardt Jr. signature also appears. As is the tradition with other Amp Energy beverages, the pulltab reflects the primary color of the can, in this case… yellow/green.

Amp Energy Tradin’ Paint is an interesting mixture of orange, lime, and berry flavors that seamlessly blend together, only slightly hinting at a primary berry-tasting base despite its yellow color. It’s refreshing and does provide a kick of caffeine. Fan of NASCAR or not, it’s a worthy limited-edition to join the Amp Energy lineup. You may want to “trade paint” if you get the chance!