Odd Beer Ingredients

Last week LanGOSEtine from the Marble Brewery landed on the shelves and it prompted a lot of conversations about the unusual ingredient in it, Langoustines. Those little lobster like crustaceans had managed to crawl their way into the brew and impart a distinct savoury, maritime, dare I say it fishy note to the beer. This got us thinking about what other weird and wonderful ingredients we have come across in beers as an addition to or replacement of the usual malts, hops, water and yeast.

Continuing with the seafood theme Stouts have long been considered a perfect match for fresh Oysters. Taking this a step further Oyster Stouts which contain oysters are a not uncommon style. In our experience the oysters give a briny richness to a porter, not a big salty seafood hit which we are quite thankful for. One American brewery has taken this a step further by brewing with ‘Mountain oysters’ which is a term used for sheep and bull testicles.

You might have heard about the coffee made with beans that the Indonesian Civet cat has eaten and then excreted. Yes, you know where this is going, Mikkeller has taken these beans and used them to make Weasel beer, an imperial oatmeal stout. We can’t tell you what it tastes like but it does get amazing ratings on Ratebeer, we wonder if that is for the taste or the novelty value?

With the amount of added fruit IPA’s and Pale Ales currently available on the market it seems strange to go back a couple of years and remember just how unusual this type of beer first was. Sure, there had always been fruit beers from Belgium or sickly sweet alco-pop like fruit beers but the addition of grapefruit or mango for example to really bring out all those tropical flavours from the hops must have seemed cutting edge when it first kicked off.

Different herbs and spices have long been used by brewers to add a little something to their beers. Chillies have always been a favourite with a hot beer appealing to the more masochistic drinker. Recently we have had beers flavoured ‘Thai’ style with Lemongrass and basil, Kaffir lime leaf has appeared in more than one beer from Tiny Rebel and drinkers often don’t realise that Belgian Wit beers such as St Bernardus Wit and Hoegaarden are flavoured with coriander seeds and bitter orange peel.

Yeast is often the unsung hero of the brewing process, everybody wants to know what hops are in a beer but it is rare (although increasing) that we get asked what yeast has been used. Brewers haven’t been slow on it though and there are beers out there that have been fermented with some very odd yeasts. One of the best known is Beard Beer from American brewers Rogue Ales. A yeast found slumbering in the beard of their Brewmaster John Maier was cultivated and then used to ferment the beer. Now the next weird cultured ingredient is a bit disturbing and we are going to be as polite as we can. Last year there was a European brewery who brewed a beer which contained lactic bacteria that was gathered from, um, a lady. That’s all we are going to say about that.

Finally from New Zealand there is the creamy and rich Stag Semen Stout with a shot of deer semen in every bottle. Stout has always had a reputation of putting some lead in your pencil but this is just a step too far.