Beyond the four main ingredients in beer (malted barley, hops, water and yeast), many brewers also use a variety of other ingredients, including spices, chocolate, fruits, vegetables, sugars, roots, you name it. But some brewers take things a bit further by adding extremely uncommon or shocking ingredients. Sometimes they do this as gimmicky marketing ploys to garner attention. Other times they may be legitimate attempts to infuse some sort of indigenous, cultural or historical ingredient into their beer.
I’m all for brewers pushing limits and experimenting with new ingredients, but I believe some ingredients go too far. Basically, if the ingredient does not actually enhance the flavor of the beer, then I don’t think it should be used. But obviously others disagree.
Back in 2012, while Rogue Ales president Brett Joyce and brewmaster John Maier were searching for a new yeast strain in their hop yard, someone took a sample from Maier’s beard as a joke. To their surprise, lab workers actually found viable brewing yeast on the beard hairs, which haven’t been shaved since 1978. After isolating and propagating the yeast, they used it to ferment Beard Beer.
Beer fermented with beard yeast is kind of a gross thought, but yeast is all around us (and on us), and some of the best beers in the world are spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts. So I guess if you think of it that way, it isn’t so bad.
Last year, we posted about how the Green Man Pub in Wellington, New Zealand, partnered with Choice Bros Brewing to create a Milk Stout made with deer semen. And that’s pretty much the gist of this jism beer.
Unless they discover that deer semen cures cancer, I think I’ll pass.
For April Fool’s Day in 2012, the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado, made a spoof video showing them making a Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. For those not in the know, “Rocky Mountain Oysters” is a humorous euphemism for bull testicles. They’re commonly found on restaurant menus in Colorado, and they’re most often sliced and deep fried like chicken fingers. Beer made with bull balls, however, was something entirely new.
Even though it started out as a joke, so many people showed interest in the beer that Wynkoop decided to actually make it for real. The bull testicles were first sliced and roasted before being added to the mash. In keeping with the theme, they packaged the beer in two-packs, and it was dubbed “the ballsiest canned beer in the world.”
I tasted the beer once and it’s actually a really well-made stout with pleasant notes of chocolate and coffee. But it had a subtle nutty flavor that I just couldn’t put my finger on.
DUNG-SMOKED WHALE TESTICLES
January 2015 we posted this about a beer called Hvalur 2 made with whale testicles by Stedji Brewery in Iceland (Hvalur 1 was made with whale meat). Not surprisingly, the beer garnered worldwide attention, though most people seemed more concerned about the whale part than the sheep-dung-smoked-testicles part.
In a Draft Magazine article, Stedji owner Dagbjartur Arilíusson defended the beer:
“Most of the protests