Brewers are constantly pushing the boundaries in coming up with new ideas for their beers. We’ve seen every type of wooden barrel chocolate, tobacco, coffee (civet coffee for example) used. Given that it’s October pumpkin beer is commonly expected. A decade or so ago I tried a beer containing actual shamrock from Strangord Lough Brewing Company. This took inspiration from old-school brewing that can be best tasted in the form of Fraoch heather ale from Williams Brothers. But what I’m talking about here is the addition of unique ingredients that seriously try to push credibility factor.
The production of sours is “wild”-spread (pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist). They may not be called Lambics for legal reasons but they are produced nonetheless by similar methods. But what about one produced by yeast cultivated for a brewer’s very own beard. That’s what Rogue Ales did. Taking natural yeast from John Maier’s beard (it had been present for over 15,000 brews), they produced Beard Beer.
Is pushing the boundary with such brews a sign of just how competitive it is out there amongst craft breweries? Or is it means of generating free media attention? I’m not necessarily accusing people of being gimmicky. Brewdog’s Never Mind the Anabolics anyone? Produced to coincide with London 2012, the beer that could genuinely get an athlete kicked out of the Olympics.
However, the latest has to be Dogfish Head’s Celest-jewel ale. The Oktoberfest-style beer was brewed lunar meteorites that have been crushed into dust (in addition to the German malts and hops of course). According to the brewery, the resulting product is 5% ABV with 25 IBUs has “notes of doughy malt, toasted bread, subtle caramel and a light herbal bitterness” and in particular the lunar particles contribute a” subtle but complex earthiness. (Or is it mooniness)”. Unfortunately, it’s a beer that will be confined to annals due to its rarity, some of the raw materials cannot be cheap.
Nevertheless, these beers show that creativity is alive and well and that brewers are constantly on the look out for breakthroughs in addition to making incremental innovations in existing styles. Some of them might not be favourites or even drinkable but one thing for sure is that they certainly raise the interest level in beer. I can’t wait to see what’s next.