Beer is an incredibly versatile beverage. Using only minimal ingredients familiar to the brewing and culinary arts, brewers are able to craft spectacularly varied beers that run the gamut of flavors and aromas.
Sometimes though, these few ingredients seem to make some brewers claustrophobic and they chafe under any cries for “purity” in beer. These 10 wacky brews throw the Reinheitsgebot and usual kitchen ingredients out the window and embrace some highly unorthodox approaches.
Here’s our top ten of the weirdest beers and their ingredients.
Precious – Do you enjoy drinking beer but worry about aging prematurely? Do you like your light lagers laced with anti-aging ingredients?
Well, you’ll love Precious, a beer that actually has collagen as an active ingredient. Yes, the most abundant protein in the human body now has a tasty way to be replenished.
This brew, first crafted in Hokkaido, Japan by Suntory Holdings Limited, is marketed heavily towards women, with one of its chauvinistic taglines making that blatantly obvious: “Guys can tell if a girl is taking collagen or not.”
While the flavor is a typical light lager, the collagen addition is meant to make imbibers look younger and to help clean up their skin.
Mamma Mia Pizza Beer – Pizza and beer are almost always an excellent pairing, so why not combine them in a glass? That’s exactly what homebrewers Tom and Athena Seefurth did on Labor Day in 2006.
The story goes that the Seefurths actually cooked a full Margarita pizza, wrapped it in cheesecloth and dunked it into the mash like a teabag. With basil, oregano, tomato and garlic (along with pinches of red pepper and bready pizza dough) among the pizza’s ingredients, it’s no wonder that this strange brew tastes just like a pizza joint.
High carbonation, a garlicy tomato aftertaste and hints of dough and spices leave a lingering pizza impression. Although it seems a bit redundant, the Seefurths recommend pairing this concoction with – you guessed it – pizza.
Beard Beer – Beards and beers go hand-in-hand. The stereotype of a brewer almost uniformly involves a massive tuft of unkempt hair at the base of the face. The words themselves are also almost phonetically identical.
Since beards and beers are so intertwined, the avant-garde brewers at Rogue Ales in Ashland, Oregon decided to make a beer that represented this symbiotic relationship. The result was the aptly named Beard Beer, featuring a yeast strain cultivated in Head Brewer John Maier’s impressive chin fringe.
Maier, who promises to never cut his beard, sent off nine strands of hair from his beard to yeast laboratory White Labs for testing and culturing.
So when people disparage beards and mustaches for getting in the way of eating and drinking, just remember that facial hair might hold the key ingredient to your next favorite beer.
Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – Though it has a strange and rather ungainly name, you wouldn’t immediately conclude that this beer was brewed with fecal matter – as in poop. But not just any poop.
The weasel-like civet is native to tropical Asia and Africa and dines only on the ripest and richest coffee beans they can get their paws on. After eating, natural processes of digestion occur and the cats leave little brown presents for dedicated brewers such as Mikkeller’s founder, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø.
The high-quality coffee beans in the civet’s java guano inspired one of his wackiest recipes. Special enzymes in civets’ stomachs break down the coffee beans and provide exceedingly strong and exceptionally rich flavors for the coffee, which form the backbone for this hefty breakfast stout.
So if you’re not afraid of a little dung, do your duty (or doody) as a beer connoisseur and give this beer a try.
Walker – The Walking Dead is a cultural phenomenon. Despite a few missteps here and there, the show has remained engaging, exciting and incredibly popular.
After an excellent season five finale, the show seems poised to dominate ratings and on-demand numbers once again.
The beer world is constantly evolving and always tries to stay on top of popular fads, hence Dock Street Brewing Company’s Walker beer – a dark, smoky creation that was brewed with fresh goat brains.
Of course, Walkers on The Walking Dead will settle for any flesh they can get their desiccated claws on, but brains would certainly satiate earlier representations of zombies whose only demand was simply: “Brains!”
With Dock Street’s Walker available, maybe that demand will change to: “Beer!”
The End of History – Sometimes it’s not the ingredients within a beer that count, but rather what’s on the outside.
The merry punks at BrewDog in Ellon, Scotland are notorious for their style experiments and envelope-pushing creations. For a time, they held the honor of brewing the strongest beer in existence, an apocalyptic 55 percent ABV juggernaut dubbed The End of History.
Its titanic alcohol content certainly turned some heads (and crushed some taste buds), but the beverage was brewed with only slightly unusual (in the context of this article) ingredients of nettles and juniper berries. What was very unusual about the drink was its container.
In addition to the usual glass bottle, The End of History was housed in stuffed squirrels and stoats, some wearing little tuxedoes and kilts.
There were only 11 bottles of The End of History brewed (7 stoats and 4 squirrels) and each one retailed for $650 to $900, which seems like a high price for some gussied-up roadkill.
Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout – Sometimes it takes some big… Rocky Mountain oysters to brew beers with odd and unusual ingredients.
Luckily, Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Company literally had some Rocky Mountain oysters on hand for its Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout.
If you were wondering, Rocky Mountain oysters is the politically correct term for pig, sheep, or in this case, bull testicles.
The brew has a rather bullish smoky and savory quality that would pair well with a nice juicy steak or other succulent meats.
IPA with Squid Ink – IPAs are ubiquitous in the modern craft beer world. Most promise either a hop explosion, a citrus blast or a balanced malt and hop profile. Some breweries however, step outside the norm when it comes IPA recipes.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin’s 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. certainly fits this bill. Its Nimble Lips Noble Tongue small batch series features a number of interesting recipes and unusual ingredients. But none of the beers can match the weirdness of the third entry in the series: an IPA brewed with squid ink.
The ink adds a briny character to the brew and also turns the normally golden-amber to golden-orange beer into a muddled greyish color.
Tail-less Black Sow Session IPA – Beer and tea go beautifully together, as evidenced by numerous beer recipes that feature tea or tea leaves.
When it comes to beer and tea combinations, milder examples come to mind like green tea or English breakfast, and some examples of session IPAs are described as having lush, tea-like esters. Another Scottish brewery, The Celt Experience, took it one step further and crafted a beer using rare, herbal tea ingredients – a combination of “sacred herbs.”
Red heather, yarrow and mugwort make the slightly spicy and heavily herbaceous brew a perfect alternative to your morning tea (or coffee) and at a very sessionable 4.7 percent ABV, you won’t regret going back for a second cup!
Bloody Beer – Bloody Marys are extremely popular drinks. The deep red color and rich, salty tomato flavor combined with a clean vodka finish and celery stalk garnish make the Bloody Mary a popular beverage all over the world.
They also, reportedly, make excellent hangover cures due to their vegetable base (to settle the stomach) and plenty of salty Worcestershire sauce (to replenish electrolytes).
Most brewers love beer more than any other liquid, but they certainly aren’t myopic in their imbibing practices – enjoying all manner of spirits, liquors and liqueurs.
Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire, Michigan took this open-mindedness to another level by brewing a beer with Roma Tomatoes, black peppercorns, celery seeds, dill and horseradish – repurposing some popular Bloody Mary ingredients into a 7 percent ABV brew.
Short’s recommends drinking this beer at a slightly warm temperature in order to fully appreciate the complex, spicy flavors within. GABF judges must’ve listened to this advice as this brew won a silver medal in the Experimental Beer category at the festival’s 2009 iteration.
While all of these brews feature very strange ingredients, it’s nice to know that beer’s versatility as a beverage allows for such rampant experimentalism.
Either way, if you brew it, we will drink it.