Beer is one of the alcoholic beverages with the longest history in the world and, although its list of ingredients is usually quite invariable (water, yeast, hops and barley malt, or other cereals), there are few occasions in which brewers used other products. Belgians themselves, for whom beer is a religion, have spent centuries experimenting with additives such as fruit, syrups, or chocolate in their beers.
Thus, today we find manufacturers who, in addition to traditional production, are venturing into the search for new flavors and nuances through the use of ingredients that we could consider "unusual". With this in mind, in the following lines, we present a small summary of the rarest ingredients used when making beer (beyond the result ...).
Spain, there is no doubt that they know about vegetables. But imagine them in a beer ... that's another story. However, although it may seem like an extravagance, the truth is there are well-established styles of beer that are made with all kinds of products from the garden. Pumpkin Ale is a kind of beer made of pumpkin that the first settlers of America began to brew due to the lack of barley.
If we were talking about the Belgians at the beginning of this article, it is not by coincidence. Beer with mustard seeds emerges from its borders. This unlikely spice manages to enhance the aroma and bitterness of hops.
Okay, this ingredient is not so rare… unless we are talking about “Kovi Loewak” coffee. And this is not a usual kind of coffee. Considered one of the best in the world, its production process ends with the grain being ingested by a mammal called a civet and collecting it again after being excreted by it. As it is. Don't get carried away by how bad it sounds. The reality is that, after being treated and used in the production of beer, it gives rise to some of the liquids most valued by craft beer drinkers globally. Factories like Mikkeller or De Molen can attest to this.
The Japanese can surprise, of course. How have they done it now? It's called Bilk and it's a beer with milk. Yes, just the ingredient that we would never have thought of mixing with beer. This idea is the result of an accidental overproduction of milk from a Japanese farm, which made available to a local brewery the opportunity to make something with the dairy product. But how? The process is to bring the milk to the necessary temperature through injections of hot air and add the wort and brewer's yeast. The drink begins to ferment adopting the smell and taste similar to tea with milk, and once it has cooled it turns the color of filtered beer.
What else can we say? This brewery rarity comes from Iceland. Brewed in honor of the god Thor, they have created a beer based on whale testicles. Dried in smoke from sheep manure as required by local tradition, a smoky flavor is obtained that drinkers define as "excellent". The quintessential Viking drink?