We Tried Nitro Pepsi, the Soda That Promises to Be ‘Softer Than a Soft Drink’

I had to know what Nitro Pepsi really tastes like.

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Did all the soda brands get spring fever early this year? Coke just unveiled Coca-Cola Starlight, which is supposed to be “space-flavored,” though it tastes more like bubble gum. Not to be outdone, Pepsi is releasing Nitro Pepsi, which the company calls the “first-ever nitrogen-infused cola.”

It’s the most unexpected innovation (right after Peeps Pepsi), so of course, I had to taste test it. Here’s what I thought.

What Is Nitro Pepsi?

If you’ve had a Guinness, then you’re already familiar with the format Nitro Pepsi is shooting for here. There’s a widget in the bottom of each can, like some beer and cold brew coffee products have, that infuses nitrogen into the drink. It makes that foamy, creamy Guinness-style pour possible. When you first pour a glass of Nitro Pepsi, it looks kind of like a draft beer with a creamy white head.

A statement from Pepsi says that “some people still cite heavy carbonation as a barrier to enjoying an ice-cold cola.” Really? Who doesn’t want bubbles in soda? I kind of feel like a soft-drink company shouldn’t be chasing down dollars from humans who think fizzy soda is too threatening, but am I a Pepsi scientist? No, I am not.

See who won our Coke vs. Pepsi taste test.

How to Pour Nitro Pepsi

The company has some tips for how best to experience the Nitro Pepsi. Serve it cold, without ice. Get a glass and once you snap open the can, immediately turn the whole can upside down over the glass to pour. Don’t use a straw, sip it right from the glass, enjoying your own frothy, foamy mustache as you do so.

Nitro Pepsi Review

Nitro Pepsi comes in regular draft cola and vanilla draft cola flavors (no diet or cherry). You can buy the cans as singles or in a four-pack. I chilled a can of regular draft cola and one of vanilla draft cola provided by Pepsi, and compared them to regular Pepsi that I bought on my own and also chilled.

First Impressions

Opening a Nitro Pepsi can is kind of fun. It pops open loudly, like a beer in a commercial after the foley artist has pumped up the volume. Pouring it is fun, too, as it does create a foamy head. I noticed the regular Pepsi does too, but only briefly, while the head on the new Nitro Pepsi and Nitro Pepsi Vanilla holds longer. The Nitro versions pour out of the can looking a bit like Thanksgiving gravy, in a light-brown cream color, but that look fades fast as the drink separates into its creamy head and darker cola layer.

Nitro Pepsi Taste Test

Nitro Pepsi Vanilla smells almost like a candy store, sugary and sweet. And the taste is notably smoother than regular Pepsi, as if the fizz and bubbles have all been kneaded out of the drink. Pepsi promised a “nitrogen-infused cola that’s actually softer than a soft drink,” and well, that’s what I got. I love vanilla and I would choose that version over regular Nitro Pepsi. But did I want a vanilla cola with no effervescence? I did not.

Regular Nitro Pepsi is so smooth it almost coats your throat. It’s not as distinct as the vanilla version because it features the same basic taste as a non-nitro Pepsi. But after a few sips, you wonder if you’ve just been served a Pepsi that’s gone flat.

Nitro is a cool concept, but once it’s poured and the drink’s foamy head starts to die down, the remaining drink just isn’t as fresh-tasting and peppy as regular Pepsi.

Final Thoughts

I love that the cola companies are out there, swinging for the fences, trying to invent something new and crazy, for drinkers with an experimental mindset. Nitro Pepsi has a velvety mouthfeel—that’s good. But then it tastes like Pepsi left out to go flat, which is, well, not so good.

If I was locked in a Pepsi warehouse and dying of thirst, I’d consume all the regular Pepsi before moving on to either the Nitro Pepsi or the Nitro Pepsi Vanilla.

Where to Buy Nitro Pepsi

According to Pepsi, Nitro Pepsi can be preordered at Walmart. The site says it should arrive by March 18. If you don’t want to preorder, look for Nitro Pepsi in stores nationwide beginning on March 28. And don’t forget to check Pepsi’s other new drops: Pepsi Mango and Pepsi Nutmeg.

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Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.