Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: CLIF Builder's MAX Caramel Peanut Protein Bar

When I first started this blog, I ran through full-blown protein bar reviews all the time.  Eventually, my stores started running out of varieties and I started getting bored with them, so I only review them sporadically now.  It's one of those sporadic times (and a free sample) that leads me to another CLIF bar review with today's review of their new CLIF Builder's MAX Caramel Peanut Protein Bar.  This incredibly robust, muscle-building bar comes in at a hefty 3.4 ounces with 390 calories and thirty grams of protein.  Fittingly, there's a guy lifting weight on the wrapper, but my first thought was that was what was required just to lift this bar, not to mention actually eat it.

After getting in my workout for the day courtesy of having to break this bar in half for the photo above, I was immediately met by a strong aroma of peanuts/peanut butter, which as any blog follower will know, is always extremely welcomed by me.  That peanut butter interior of the bar (along with the standard protein mix chemicals) was wrapped up in a thick and also moderately strong smelling layer of chocolate.  On top of those smells was that noticeable smell of manufactured chemicals, which is difficult to describe, but the best way I can think of it is acidic.  If you've smelled it once (or countless times like I have due to all my reviews), you'll definitely recognize the smell.  The bar was then topped with a gelatinous layer of caramel that had some peanuts sprinkled (or perhaps) glued into the gelatin.  Outside of those obviously noticeable characteristics, there wasn't a whole lot else about this bar that stood out.

I figured I'd have to sharpen my teeth before I took a bite of this since I knew it would be difficult to tear apart, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and chomp away without any sort of sharpening.  After the fact, I think I probably should have sharpened my teeth.  Ha, just kidding.  Anyway, the bar was tough at first, but that's standard operating procedure for any sort of full-blow protein bar, so that's not a complaint in any way.  As for the flavor of the bar, it definitely tasted strongly of hearty peanut butter and I appreciated that.  The peanut butter flavor itself was kind of flat, but that was fine because the thick and dense chocolate brought a slight kick of sweetness, as did the caramel topping on the bar.  It wasn't a lot of sweetness, but it was enough to give the basic peanut butter a hint of flavor and as someone that very much appreciates sweets, I always love it when I get that extra hint of sweetness in my foods.  The peanuts added an occasional crunch to each bite (along with the soy crisps inside the bar), but it wasn't a big difference maker in any sort of shape or form.  That caramel topping, while gelatinous to look at, had somewhat of the texture of taffy and made it kind of fun and interesting to tear it away from the bar.

Buy It or Fly By It?  Going into this, I expected to hate it.  After eating half of the bar (more on that later), I found myself liking this quite a bit, so it gets a BUY IT rating.  Peanut butter, caramel and chocolate is probably my favorite flavor trio combination and this extremely large bar did a more than adequate job mixing all of those together.  As for what I said I'd get back to later...I alluded to this several times in the review, but I'll say it again:  this is a big bar.  Unless you are replacing an entire meal or are in serious training, eating all of this bar at once is probably a bit too much.  For the purposes of this review, I only hate half (even after working out) and that was more than sufficient.  If you are wanting to pump up the protein and like the flavor trio used in this bar, I think this is one that is solid (like the fun word game?) to grab.


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