After my post about Pepsi Green, I thought I'd review another unique Thai soda offering.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Krating Daeng Cola:
You may know that Krating Daeng (or กระทิงแดง) is the Thai version (the original version, really) of Red Bull. The name "Red Bull" is a literal translation of Krating Daeng (except that a "krating" is actually a gaur, but who's ever heard of a gaur?). The two energy drinks, however, are not very similar. The Thai version is more sweet and not carbonated.
So what can we expect from Krating Daeng Cola? Well, somewhat puzzlingly, it states very clearly in two languages on the can that it's caffeine free. Go figure.
The ingredients listed here are a bit small to see, but it says: ส่วนประกอบที่สำคัญโดยประมาณ น้ำตาล 11.7% แต่งกลิ่นและรสเลียนธรรมชาติ เจือสีธรรมชาติ ใช้วัตถุกันเสีย "Main ingredients (approximate): Sugar 11.7%, artificial flavors, natural colors. Contains preservatives."
I know recipes are trade secrets, but Thai sodas fess up to much less than American sodas do. Without caffeine, one wonders if it's loaded with lots of other lesser-known, lesser-regulated stimulants. But they go to such pains telling you it's caffeine free, it's like they want to make sure Red Bull fans don't get the wrong idea that it's an energy drink (and thus don't buy it).
I also wonder if by "sugar" they really mean actual sugar, like R.C. Cola is (let's face it -- was) famous for using, instead of the high-fructose corn syrup that I believe is the norm in American soft drinks.
The two Red Bull companies are entirely separate except for shareholders, as I understand it, but they share the famous logo of bulls charging each other. The familiar logo only appears under the tab on the top of the can, however.
So how does it taste? Sweet. Very, very sweet. There's far less carbonation than either Pepsi or Coke, almost so that it seems flat. But after drinking a few swigs, the aftertaste of the sugar stayed a long time. It felt kind of like Hawaiian Punch always makes me feel -- like I can feel the cavities forming. (I avoid Hawaiian Punch for this reason, by the way.)
If given a taste test I would know that it was neither Pepsi nor Coke. It's not trying to be overly similar to either of them, though. It's doing it's own thing. And while I don't particularly care for the result, I can respect that. This is no wannabe Shasta rip-off, it's just a mediocre cola.
I still have no idea why T.C. Pharmaceuticals (a disturbing name for a soft drink company, frankly) thinks a non-caffeinated Red Bull drink will be a good seller, though.
We might as well shelve it alongside the lead-free pencils and onion-flavored breath mints. Your mileage may vary.
[Note: There is also a Red Bull Cola that was released by the international Red Bull brand in 2008, which I've never tried. Their ingredient list includes several natural flavors, unlike the Thai version, as well as caffeine. If anyone can say how they compare, please do enlighten.]