Somebody Put Something in My Drink
Water, yeast, malt and hops are fun, but an unexpected ingredient (that is NOT Special-K) can take the beer to new and interesting directions. Over the past year we drank a bunch of beers with fun additions, here are a few of them:
The first on the list is Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA that Dagan brought back from AHA that took place in Seattle, Elysian Brewing Co.’s hometown. This is a beer flavoured with jasmine flowers. It tastes bitter, but in a jasmine tea sort of way (assuming you don’t add sugar to your herbal tea; if you can tolerate bitterness in beer, you should enjoy your tea as is), very mild. The beer smells like white tea with jasmine and that sweetish soda aroma. The truth is that I didn’t like it that much.
Hell or High Watermelon Wheat by 21st Amendment is the brewery’s summer beer – a wheat beer brewed with 200 lb. fresh watermelon. Not sure whether they add whole watermelon or if they get rid of the rind and only add the red fruit, but its aroma reminded me of the inner part of the rind, the white part. It’s a bit tarty, a bit fruity, slightly bitter and quite refreshing. Note the beautiful, detailed illustration on the can.
Pietra is a Vienna lager from the island of Corsica, France, where chestnuts grow and milled into flour. Chestnut flour is added to Pietra’s mash and provides a unique, local twist as well as fermentable sugars. The result is quite pleasing, with chestnut aroma and sweet, nutty taste. Yet there’s something very ordinary in this beer and despite the unusual ingredient Pietra is a decent session beer.
The book lists a beer brewed by California’s Nectar Ales: Hemp Ale. Here, sterilized, THC-free hemp seeds are added to the mash. You won’t get high drinking this beer, but nevertheless you may face difficulty when searching for it. The label on my bottle reads Humboldt Brown, with a secondary title in small typeface “ale brewed with hemp”. The six-pack package proudly states the original name. Maybe it’s a regulatory/ moral compromise? Anyway, this beer is far from being a gimmick. It has a rich malty, cocoa aroma and tastes hoppy and sweet at the same time with chocolate finish.
And lastly, a beer I’ve been looking forward to try since I opened the book for the first time. Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. Garlic, tomato, oregano and basil in a liquid form? Hell yeah! We sampled it in a ‘specialty beer’ tasting in December. This beer has light body and its special ingredients are very apparent: garlic and oregano aroma and dominant spicy taste that doesn’t leave much room for beer itself. No hops, no malt. It’s a cool gimmick, but not much.
Finally, a much-appropriate song:
Avatar Jasmine IPA, Hell or High Watermelon Wheat, Pietra, Hemp Ale and Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer are beers #182, #183, #184, #185 and #186 I Must Try Before I Die.