Homebrew - Four Loko / Joose clone recipe
April 12, 2012 6:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm a novice homebrewer looking to brew something similar to the pre-2011 versions of Four Loko / Joose. Would anyone be able to provide information on a clone homebrew recipe for the caffeine, taurine, and guarana versions of Four Loko / Joose?

Note to Ask MetaFilter moderators: In researching this topic, I found a thread on a homebrewing forum where some of the participants seemed to think it was illegal in the United States for an individual to brew such a concoction. In reading the information published by the FDA, it relates to commercial operations. I also spoke to the owner of a local homebrew store and he said there is nothing illegal about an individual creating a brew with the above mentioned ingredients.

To the topic...
I am looking for a true, complete, coherent clone homebrew recipe (not the "fake" recipes that are at the top of an Internet search that concern mixing Jolly Ranchers, Sprite, an energy drink, and malt liquor.).

The only decent information I was able to find on the topic was a blog post on the Brew Your Own (BYO) website (http://www.byo.com/blogs/a-quad-of-sorts-or-my-horizontal-everest-.html). That blog post stopped at the fermentation stage. It is not a complete recipe at this point. I emailed BYO to ask if a follow-up post would be published and if the full recipe would be provided, but a reply has not been received. I also found a couple threads on the HomeBrewTalk.com forums, but those did not provide the solution. My hope is the recipe would also address some of the challenges of this somewhat unusual brew, such as tips for successfully creating the high gravity wort, a discussion on where to purchase any non-typical ingredients (caffeine, taurine, guarana, etc), and at what point in the process to add such ingredients and in what quantity.

Note to potential responders: I do not wish for this thread to degrade into an argument of the merits of this endeavor. If you think it is stupid, so be it, but let's stick to productive replies.

Thanks for your time.
posted by disguise to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would imagine it would be quite hard to homebrew a high ABV malt liquor that didn't have a very strong taste w/o investing in some very expensive filtration equipment. Everything else is actually going to be pretty easy - just a lot of trial and error to get the proportions correct. You can back into the supplements by reading a label I'd think. Then its a question of sugar and the flavoring.

So I'd focus on making a very neutral malt liquor first. Although honestly you might be better off using an neutral spirits base - it'll be easier. The products are brewed as malt liquors to get around weird alcohol laws that allow brewed products to be sold in more outlets than distilled products.
posted by JPD at 7:04 AM on April 12, 2012

While it's one of those fake recipes, the usage of berocca in this recipe should help with the non-typical ingredients part of your question.
posted by General Malaise at 7:18 AM on April 12, 2012

I've ordered protein powder from trueprotein.com, which now appears to be truenutrition.com, and I was happy with the product and customer service. It looks like they sell powdered caffeine and powdered taurine, but not guarana.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:31 AM on April 12, 2012

The recipe provided at the BYO link looks like a good start, but there's no reason you couldn't do it with extracts and corn sugar. Oxygenation of the wort is definitely a good idea and use of a very alcohol-tolerant yeast along with the nutrients is a must. The article doesn't mention either of these and I can't help but wonder how well their fermentation actually went, i.e. four days seems a little short. You really want this to ferment out all of the residual sweetness so you have a neutral base to start with before you add any flavorings.
posted by tommasz at 7:38 AM on April 12, 2012

You might want to start with Skeeter Pee as a jumping off point. If you get squeamish about not making a true malt-based beverage, make an equal-gravity wort and mix it with the "must" at whatever ratio makes you happy.

You're going to have to keg or drink it still, though, unless you want to use artificial sweeteners to backsweeten.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:50 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might consider brewing a distiller's wash from malts. I recently got into home distilling and the first thing I made was a wash from 5 lb. sugar, 2.5 lb. rye, 2.5 malted barely. It had a pretty good ABV and didn't taste bad, a little sweet.

When you start tossing in the caffeine and other stimulants, the taste will need to be masked anyways.

Good luck.
posted by Argyle at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2012

I don't even think 4 loco is beer. Its diluted neutral grain spirits with flavor, most all of those 8 percent or above can ones are.

Batter to just throw a cheap vodka in an energy drink...viola 4 loco
posted by couchdive at 3:12 PM on April 12, 2012

My bad, apparently it is malt beer.

Mass sugar to fermentation. Get on original gravity of 1080 or so, as your additives will dilute it down to 8 percent...I think that's what 4 loco is.

Your going to have to do some yeast research, gotta get critters that can stand that alcohol environment. get loco, use a turbo yeast
posted by couchdive at 3:24 PM on April 12, 2012

I think this would be easier as an extract brew. Find some extra light malt extract and dilute it with some camden tablets to sterilize. I wouldn't do a boil because it will just darken the beer. Also I've made some very high alcohol beers and you will get better results doing the fermentation in batches. Ie make a strong wort but only something that will ferment to about 7% or so and then add in the additional malt once the fermentation is slowing. Using champagne yeasts as a secondary yeast can increase the alcohol content to about 15-18%, but it isn't easy.

I've never had four loko so I can't say anything about mimicing the flavor, but I would just get some powdered caffiene and taurine and make a tea out of some gurana mix them all together and pour it into the finished product. I thought that four loko was quite sweet so you might want to add some dextrose or lactose to get some additional sweetness and to get some berry flavor I would either add in juice extract or preferably a flavor extract.

I've done some brewing experiments like this before and my record abv is about a 17% black forest cherry barleywine with hints of chocolate and black cherry. Quite nice but it packs a hell of a punch. Feel free to memail me.
posted by koolkat at 1:41 AM on April 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all the replies. I'm going to put a summary of the information together, and then head to a local homebrew store to get help from the owner to fine tune and finalize a recipe.
posted by disguise at 12:16 PM on April 13, 2012

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