Self chilling beverage technology has been around for almost 20 years, but due to environmental and design issues that needed to be worked out, the first can is just now coming to the market, and we're getting the first look.
West Coast Chill is the drink, a sugar and caffeine free energy drink that will first be available in the Las Vegas and Southern California markets in late March for around $4.00 a can.
They mailed us a sample, for the grand chilling and we called up CEO Mitchell Joseph on Skype to hold our "cyber hand" through the cooling process. We even went out and bought a thermometer to wrap around the can so we could see how cold it got.
We held down a button on the bottom of the can that engages an internal cooling device which hisses back at you so you know it's working. It's advertised to cool 30 degrees in 3-5 minutes, however Mr. Joseph warned us that since the drink is cooled from an internal mechanism, the outside of the can probably wouldn't go down 30 degrees.
Our can's starting temperature was 75 degrees and in a few minutes it was cool to the touch at 63 degrees.
Once it's cool the top pops like any other canned drink and it's time to enjoy. Unfortunately it wasn't very enjoyable. It had a foul smell that filled the room and tasted like they got the recipe wrong.
As a field test, and as an impromptu teenage prank, we took the can around the Nightline office to get some other opinions.
The verdict: Keep the can, lose the drink.
It turned out they sent us a can bottled in London instead of in their own factory in California. The next day we had a shipment of cans from the California factory on our desk in New York. The second batch tasted considerably better than the first, but why they sent out their first media sample from an offsite factory is confusing.
But the drink is just the beginning. The company has been getting a lot of attention from major breweries and beverage companies that are interested in licensing the technology. It may not be long before you'll be able to tailgate without a cooler, but for now there's nothing wrong with ice and a koozie.