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Unusual Beer Ingredients

Earlier, barley, hops, yeast, and water were the only ingredients used to make beer. But now, along with these ingredients, a number of unusual things, like spices, desserts, algae, and chilies are used to give this beverage a distinct flavor and taste.

Did You Know?

A strain of yeast found in the beard of brewmaster John Maier of Rogue Ales Brewery, is used in beer making. This beer is called the 'Beard Beer'.
Brewers across the world are experimenting with a number of unusual and odd ingredients, to give varying flavors and aromas to the different types of beer. With growing competition in the market, it seems brewers are trying to offer something unique to the consumers, which has led to the production of various new and exciting ale with exotic ingredients.
Such experimental or craft beer have witnessed a surge in their popularity in the recent times, and this has further encouraged the brewers to try different ingredients and recipes. So, let's have a look at some weird ingredients that have found their way into your favorite brew, as a result of the worldwide craft beer and brewing renaissance.
Oysters, the bivalves, are one of the key ingredients in beer brewing process, which give an aromatic flavor and extra sweetness to the beer.
Despite their long association with stout, oysters were not included in the brewing process earlier. The usual practice was to slurp the oysters while sipping beer. But today fresh oysters are being used in the brewing process itself. While some brewers use only the shells, others add the entire critter to make their stout.
Two most famous products that contain this unusual ingredient are, Porterhouse Oyster Stout and Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout of Flying Dog Brewery. You will be surprised to know, that the Porterhouse Oyster Stout won a gold medal in Belfast in 1997.
Ghost Pepper
Grown in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, ghost pepper was the hottest chili pepper in the world.
However, in 2011 it has been replaced by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as the hottest chili pepper in the world. You will be amazed to know, that ghost pepper, which is mainly used as a spice, has also made its way to your beer mug.
The Colorado-based Twisted Pine Brewery has used this chili pepper to make its beer named Ghost Face Killah. This strange beer is fiery and crisp in texture. Another pepper that is used in beer making is serrano pepper, and the product that uses this ingredient is Original C Cave Creek Chili Beer.
However, this product is not known to possess a great taste or flavor, and in fact, is labeled by many as a disaster among experimental beer.
Pizza and beer is perhaps one of the most popular food pairings, and interestingly, both have been combined by the brewers of the famous pizza brand, Mamma Mia!.
The Pizza Beer, manufactured by this pizzeria can give beer lovers the flavors of both their favorite edibles. The pizza that is used for making this ale is Margherita pizza, made with whole-wheat crust and topped with tomato, oregano, garlic, and basil. The pizza is then steeped into the beer mash. The resultant Pizza Beer is claimed to be debris-free, and possesses both the taste and flavor of a pizza.
The health conscious may be happy to know, that the blue-green algae, abundant in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is another contender in the list of unusual and exotic beer ingredients.
Spirulina is believed to have several health benefits, but especially treasured for its anti-aging properties. Named as, Spirulina Wit, this beer is the product of Freetail Brewing Company, the green color of which can be attributed to the presence of spirulina. 'Delicious and nutritious' seems to be the best phrase to describe this experimental beer.
Chon Coffee Beans
Yes, coffee is quite a common ingredient in a wide range of craft or experimental beer, but what makes Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel unique is, it uses the Vietnamese caphe cut chon coffee beans, collected from the droppings of civet cat.
Civet cat is a weasel-like animal from Southeast Asia, which is known to eat only the ripe coffee berries containing the best coffee beans.
The coffee beans are partly digested and fermented by the enzymes present in the cat's digestive tract, which are then excreted from its body with fecal matter. These coffee beans are then collected from the droppings, and cleaned to make civet coffee, which is one of the most expensive coffee in the world. The Imperial Stout made from this coffee is creamy and known to possess a strong taste and aroma.
Mustard Seeds
Though mustard seeds taste great in many food, their inclusion in beer is quite rare.
However, a Belgium-based brewery have come up with a beer, named Brouwerij Smisje Wostyntje Mustard Ale, which uses mustard seeds in the brewing process. This mustard ale has a spicy, musky, and sour flavor, and can be enjoyed with hot dogs and soft pretzels.
Hemp Seeds
Nectar Ales Humboldt Brown is a famous product that is brewed with toasted hemp seeds.
Hemp is a plant in the Cannabis family, the same family to which marijuana belongs. But it contains a very low level of THC (about 0.3%) as compared to marijuana (6 to 20%). The hemp seeds basically add a nutty and herbal flavor to this ale.
Nectar Ales Humboldt Brown has earned many accolades, including a bronze medal in the 2006 World Beer Cup. Other accolades include, silver medals in California State Fair in 2005 and 2009, and gold medals in LA County Fair in 2005 and 2009. This beer is noted for its pine, cocoa, and nutty flavor.
The delicious and mouth-watering bacon or cured pork is another uncommon beer ingredient. Two breweries famous for their unique bacon beer are: Uncommon Brewers and Rogue Ales.
Their products are known as Bacon Brown Ale and Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale respectively. Bacon Brown Ale is actually brewed with real bacon, while Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale is made by using the famous Voodoo Doughnut, which among many other ingredients, contains bacon and maple syrup.
Addition of exotic ingredients has become a trend among the brewers across the world, as a way to innovate and make extraordinary beer to earn recognition and fame.

 Chandramita Bora

Casey DeViese