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"...hanging out with some friends enjoying some good times. That’s the essence of the shandy."

The Purp is Back – This Time in Cans!

The Purp is one of those beers that doesn’t seem real at first. Either you were one of the lucky few who had it during its first venture into our Tasting Room and out on draft in 2019, or you’ve heard people talk about it in its last two years of release.

Well, now you can snag some of your very own to enjoy – even from home! That’s right folks, ~for the first time in forever~ (ok, the first time in two years), The Purp is getting its own can release and scaled up distribution release! The fun starts this week, with a release in the Tasting Room and Brewtique today, May 14th, and cans will be popping up at some of your favorite stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania starting May 17th. Our friends in Delaware can expect to see these bright purple cans the following week, starting May 24th!

Want to know more about this fabulous brew?

If you’re part of our crew, or a savvy blog reader, you know Packaging Operator Mitch Freeman is a fan. He’s particularly excited for this scale up. 

“I think this was a good beer to scale up because of its uniqueness. I don’t often see other craft breweries taking a chance on something like a grape juice/soda-inspired beer! I think it’s going to be such a hit on the beach, especially with the warm weather that has finally arrived, too,” Mitch says.

Look at it! So grape, much purple.

As promised, we also chatted with Brewer and Cellar Lead Mike McGrath this week for more firsthand details in the shandy-izing process (a term you’ll remember was coined by our own Brian Hink). 

“We add fruit and sugar in the cellar, basically making a large format of fruited lemonade,” Mike says.

Of course, each shandy has their own unique flavor and flair. For The Purp, it’s been compared to a jolly rancher, grape soda, purple gatorade, Welch’s, and more. They’re not far off on that last one, either! We actually use real Concord grape juice to give The Purp its distinctive punch and full body, making it taste like you spiked some grape soda.

“Every shandy is memorable, whether it be your first or your fifty-first,” Mike shares. “Most of the time, everything goes smoothly, but sometimes a mix up on the recipe can be a challenge or a certain fruit product could be frozen.”

Since we’re using a concentrated form of the fruit, sometimes those frozen buckets that come in need a “nice little bucket hot tub” fashioned out of one of our water reservoirs.

Who knew our beer ingredients also got some spa treatments??

“The Purp is a wheat ale, similar to what we use for other shandies, mixed with pure cane sugar and Concord grape concentrate,” he says. 

If you’ve ever made or enjoyed a sangria, or even a mixed kool aid or lemonade, you can appreciate the way the fruit we add to the beer helps enhance this base. 

Instead of making a pitcher, though, our Brew Crew is “making 60 gallon batches of lemonade at a time,” Mike shares. “We can be pretty creative and have become very good at recreating childhood memories or just classic flavors that people love. A lot of that work comes from Brian Hink and our lab tech Matt, who run trials on flavoring and fruit on a much smaller scale (a few hundred milliliters at a time) before we scale up a batch of 900 gallons of our finished shandy product.”

(For you number geeks out there, we did the math and that’s like 1,800 bottles of Welch’s. That’s a ton of beer!)

Even though we’re dealing with massive amounts of liquid, Brian and Matt are dialed in. “You would be surprised what an extra bucket of concentrate can do to the color, taste, and smell of the final products,” Mike says. “Those two guys have really nailed down the trial process, which makes it easier downstream for the brewery.”

But even when there are some challenges, tackling these can actually result in some pretty awesome results. 

Mike recalls one particular time when just a little too much fruit was added: “One time we accidentally added double the fruit amount that was needed for the shandy. Sounds costly, but we were able to brew another small batch of the base and blend it to its original form,” he says.

Shandies are pretty easy-going like that. 

“Things like that can spur on conversations about amounts of fruit in the beers (you don’t want to smother it) or even change recipes for the future,” he says.

After all, our shandies undergo intense scrutiny in the cellar to make sure they turn out just right, and sometimes we (and all of you!)  love what we make so much that it graduates from a draft-only release to a bigger, better draft and can release!

Mike enjoys hearing about how much people love our shandies, too: “Hearing all the stories and comments about how much people love the style is pretty fascinating. It has to be one of the first things people say to me when I say I work at Cape May,” he shares.

In fact, Mike relates our success with shandies to two other fruit-forward brews as well. “I believe it helped us transition into beers like Crushin’ It or even our take on hard seltzers,” he says.

Now that you can enjoy The Purp from home, Mike recommends pulling out that Prince record, or queuing up some of Prince’s songs to stream while you imbibe. 

Can you imagine how great The Purp will taste paired with Prince’s sultry voice? You can even put on the “Purple Rain” music video if you’re feeling extra. 

While you’re grabbing The Purp from your local store, don’t forget The Bog and The Grove! You can also still snag some cans of That Cherry Lime Good Good and Strawberry Sunset from our Tasting Room, but don’t wait too long, those last two are only available for a short time! 

If you’re looking for some more suggestions for your playlist, Mike has some options: 

The Grove: Deee-Lite – “Groove Is in the Heart” (classic)

Cherry Lime Good Good: Fleetwood Mac (don’t be shy, you know you want to pull up this video again)

Strawberry Sunset: Aretha Franklin – “I Say a Little Prayer” (ok, now we’re really vibing)

The Bog: Shania Twain – “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” (a must, really)

If those aren’t your speed, Mike suggests throwing on whatever music or playlist you enjoy the most. After all, The Purp was “made for hanging out with some friends enjoying some good times. That’s the essence of the shandy,” he says.

So throw on some music and come visit us to grab The Purp early this weekend, or celebrate this month by grabbing some cans once they hit shelves!