A Mad Genius Figured Out How To Brew Your Own Four Loko At Home
I remember 2010 like it was yesterday. Actually, that’s a lie— I really don’t remember much at all because that was the year Four Loko got popular on campus, and duct taping a couple of 24-ounce cans to your hands and finishing them in under two hours on consecutive nights doesn’t really do much to benefit your cognitive functions in the short or long term.
My dream is to one day make a 30 For 30-style documentary tracking the rise and fall of the equally celebrated and maligned beverage, which was truly fascinating to witness in real time. If it wasn’t for Four Loko, I never would have been able to experience what it was like to be a bootlegger during Prohibition— after it was banned in Massachusetts, some of my friends drove up to Vermont to score a couple of cases and we sold them at a premium back at school.
A few weeks after our adventure, the company behind Four Loko announced they would no longer be producing a caffeinated version, and while you can still buy the toxic sludge masquerading as malt liquor today, it just isn’t the same. Plenty of people have tried to recreate the original recipe over the years, but no one has been able to come close— until now.
A couple of months ago, VinePair editor Nick Hines was drinking the neutered version of Four Loko with a homebrewing friend when the duo decided to do what they could to recreate the drink. They added some caffeine pills and Kool-Aid to their malty base, and after two weeks, it was ready to taste.
How did things turn out? Hines described the experience, saying:
The Four Loko clone was the same unhealthy pink color as I remembered Four Loko being. A thick head of off-pink foam graced the top and took ages to dissipate. The taste was surprisingly desert-like, kind of like a mouth-drying, carbonated Kool Aid. The main taste detractor was a slightly grainy quality that stuck in my throat that I blamed on the caffeine pills.
I finished my Four Loko and continued on with my night. There were no negative health effects, but I did stay up until 4 a.m. and somehow avoided falling asleep in the 40-minute Lyft on the way home.
If you want to try your luck at reproducing the results, you can find the entire recipe here.