After years of teasing, Pepsi will unleash the first ever nitrogen-infused cola on the market. Pepsi originally teased the product in early 2019, and then went quiet on it. But now, three years later, Nitro Pepsi is finally hitting store shelves nationwide March 28.
Nitrogen-infused beer and coffee are products you can already get at a supermarket or some coffee shops, but this soda is something of a new frontier. If you’ve never tried anything made bubbly by nitrogen, it’s a much different experience from drinking a regular carbonated soda or beer.
When you think about nitrogen-infused beverages, the first one that probably comes to mind (at least it does for me) is Guinness. The dark, roasty stout from Ireland is coveted for its smooth pour, cascading bubbles, and silky head. The nitrogen adds a tiny amount of effervescence and a smaller amount of fizz than you’d find in, say, a lager, resulting in a creamy flavor. But how does that translate into soda form?
Pepsi sent The Takeout a preview sample of its two Nitro Pepsi flavors, Draft Cola and Vanilla Draft Cola, to take for a spin.
There was a set of three instructions included in our sample. They stated, simply:
- Chill can
- Pour hard
- Admire and enjoy
Simple enough. After we let the cans chill out in the fridge for a while, we convened for the taste test. Once we popped one of the cans open—and it opened with a forceful whoosh—we immediately turned it upside down to give the soda an aggressive pour as instructed. The Draft Cola displayed the tiny, attractive bubbles you’d expect in a nitro beer or coffee, cascading gently downwards before popping back up to create its foamy head. Once the bubbles settled, we were left with a pint of soda with a fluffy head, just like a Guinness.
The first one we tasted, the Draft Cola, yielded mixed reactions. Most of the taste testers weren’t impressed. One said that it tasted “like flat soda.” Another asked, “Who is this for?”
I can attest to the fact that once you’re past the foamy head on this drink, which does impart a gentle creaminess, the microbubbles dissipate in its body within moments. That leaves you with a syrupy, flat beverage.
When it comes to, say, a regular Pepsi, the crisp carbonation lends an acidic balance to that very syrupy flatness. (Who am I kidding? You know what flat soda tastes like.) Without carbonation, most soda is one-note, and that one note is toothachingly sweet. If the nitrogen’s presence had remained in the glass for more than a few moments, I think the experience of drinking nitro cola would have been much more fun.
The entire group agreed that the Vanilla Draft Cola had a better overall flavor—mostly because it didn’t just taste like a soda gone wrong. If its nitrogen had persisted for a while longer, it’d definitely give off some serious ice cream float vibes, sans ice cream. However, as the nitrogen quickly lost its potency, again, we were just left with a cloyingly sweet soda base that tasted like melted ice cream.
I have to say, I totally get what Pepsi was aiming for with this new product. When done properly with a beer or coffee, a nitrogen-infused drink takes on a luxurious, velvety texture without any added ingredients. In the case of Pepsi’s new Nitro Pepsi, unfortunately, it just falls flat, figuratively and literally.
Pre-orders for the new drink are available online on Walmart’s website, and the drink will pop up on store shelves nationwide starting March 28. If you give it a try, let us know what you think. Maybe the answer to the question “who is this for?” is, in fact, you.