Remember a few years back when Sparks came out and everyone was like “Oh my stars! What is this exciting new beverage, so full of flavor and booze and caffeine?” No? Well everyone was like that. Gone were the days when the beleaguered boozehound was driven to a primitive cup of coffee or a tablet of NoDoz© to perk themselves up for the long night ahead! Gone were the days of the college student waiting until after 10 PM to stumble face-first into a hedge. Gone, friends, were the bad old days when in order to catch a serious irregular heart be—I mean, a serious buzz, one had to drink four beverages rather than one huge can!
To be fair, though, with “all things in moderation” as your mantra, some of these are kind of awesome. Let’s get crunked… with information!
We finish back in the category with Tilt! 12% alcohol by volume? Check! Caffeine and other whatnot? CHECK! Often available – in a huge can – for less than three bucks? Check and mate. The only reason they’re at #5 is because they’ve been out-marketed by the others!
4 Twisted Tea
Twisted Tea, which mainly comes in two flavors, a lemon and raspberry take on traditional iced tea, is a bit of an outlier here, but is also the most sensible beer alternative on the list. It has just the littlest bit of caffeine as naturally occurs in tea leaves, and it clocks in right around 5% ABV. A sensible drink for those who want to remember their own names in a few hours.
Get Joosed baby, with—well, with Joose, of course. Joose and 4Loko would probably get away with swapping cans in any blind taste test. It comes in the same types of wacky flavors (Grape, Watermelon, something bluish, likely a Blue Raspberry) and many of the varieties of Joose hit that twelve percent ABV mark. (Let’s pause for a second to make it clear that yes, that is the standard alcohol by volume for wine, so yes, one can is like a bottle of wine, basically, and often for $1.99. Take that, Two Buck Chuck!) The stimulant factor was likewise once high and now reduced, just like Joose’s spot on the list.
Sparks is the one that started it all. Lower in ABV and in caffeine content when it hit the market about a decade ago. Sparks were initially available in just one orangey/citrus flavor, and it wasn’t half bad! The alcohol content was on par with some of your stronger beers and the rev-up factor was a bit lower than its fellow relative newcomer, good old nonalcoholic Red Bull. A soft spot in our hearts for being the OG lands Sparks at the respected number two slot. They have undergone some updates as time passed, with a few stronger variants in different flavors, but the OG still stands tall. Because it comes in a tallboy can.
4Loko wins the race! Like you didn’t see that coming. This line of fine beverages rocketed to prominence over the last few years as the most popular of this new type of packaged madness. At its crowning peak, 4Loko offered several beverages in 24 ounce cans that were 12$ ABV and contained more caffeine than 6 standard cups of coffee (arguably much more, as the milligrams of caffeine in brewed coffee can vary), not to mention a whole bunch of other excellence like Taurine and Guarana and (we’re assuming) pure liquefied hedonism! 4Loko and many of the other malternative energy drinks have been toned down as of late, at least in terms of the energizing ingredients, but a can (or bottle) of 4Loko is still a fine way to get a whole lot of booze for rock bottom prices, and in such non-terrifying flavors as Grape MaXed and Orange Blend!
So there you have it, you nutty kids! Now get out there and enjoy some malternative energy drinks, and be ready for us to totally disavow any knowledge of supporting your decision to do so!