Purple Drank – You Know You Wanna Try This…

Yep, I did it and don’t care. Butterfly pea flowers and glitter in the same beverage. I hesitate to call it a beer as it’s really a hard lemonade – well, limeade. Based on the southern Robitussen mixture, my version is an 8.8% hard limeade on raspberries, colored with butterfly pea flowers with glitter added – the rule of cool, you know.

The Goal: A fun and tasty summer drink with a dark purple color and glitter, something fun and interesting. I’ve made the hard limeade before and it’s always been a hit. I’ve used raspberries as well so that wasn’t anything new for me. The coloring and glitter was something new.

The butterfly pea flowers (original name: Clitoria ternatea) is indigenous to Thailand and Malaysia and gain traction in the US. It’s primary use is as a tea ingredient, which has the added benefit of changing the color of a drink based on it’s pH level. It was easy enough to purchase bags of dried flowers in 2 ounce packages for my experiment.

Much of the information online is geared towards using it in cocktails; in brewing there is very little. I’ve seen references to it used in the boil, whirlpool, and dry-hopping. Since my concoction has no “boil” per se or a whirlpool, I choose to use the dry-hopping method, using a mesh bag in the keg while cold crashing.

The color, as I mentioned earlier, is dependent on the pH of the liquid. It starts as a dark, vibrant blue in the 6-5 ph range. From there it shifts to a dramatic royal purple (like in my version) moving towards a 4.5 – 3.5. Below that the color shifts once again to a super bright pink as it approaches 3.5 – 2.8 or so. Part of my challenge (actually my hope) was to get the pH level with the acidic lime and raspberries to meet in the 4.0 pH range.

The original liquid, fermented and set on a raspberry secondary, was already quite reddish-purple but I wanted more, something richer and more, well, purple! This 2 ounce charge definitely made it more purple! The photos show the dry-hop bag after drawing it from the keg – it’s a pretty rich and dark purple – just what I was going for! There reports are that the pea flour can give an earthy taste to a beverage but it’s so subtle here, the lightest of mushroom flavor but you have to be looking for it.

The pint glass is after dry-hopping and while transferring to the “glitter keg” for carbing and serving. You can see in the bucket just how strong this purple is. It’s pretty crazy. Light does have a role to play in how light or dark the purple is so it varies a little depending on the light source. The glitter (both silver and purple glitter) was simply added to the serving keg while transferring to obtain a good mix. Under more natural (cloudy) daylight, the purple lightens up a bit and I suspect the glitter might have some effect on the lightness as well.

The final result is a pretty, kaleidoscope of purple and swirly glitter. Flavor-wise, it’s a sweet and slightly tart limeade and raspberry drink perfect for a hot summer day. One will need to be careful though as at 8.8%, this one will sneak up on you in a hurry! Can’t wait for it to be fully carbonated as carbonic bite should knock down some of the sweetness and bring it more into balance.

Cheers!