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10 Bizarre (and Gross) Ingredients Added to Beer

Updated on November 12, 2015

1. Coffee Beans removed from Elephant Dung

In 2013, not only had Sankt Gallen introduced Un, Kono Kuro (Elephant Dung Beer), but it also sold out almost immediately. [2] Although the beer did not actually contain poop, the coffee beans used to brew this beer was passed through an Elephant’s digestive system.

So how did it taste? One might say, “It’s good sh**”! Well, actually according to the one person who was able to get his hands on a bottle and brave enough to share his experience, “When I poured it into a glass the coffee-like aroma continued to build it was relaxing like an easy Sunday morning. After taking my first sip, there was an initial bitterness that got washed over by a wave of sweetness. Following that, a mellow body rolled in and spread out through my mouth.” [3]

It also must be noted that though Un, Kono Kuro sold out within minutes of its release, the beer was pretty darn expensive at around $100 per 35 grams. That’s a lot of money for dung!

2. Smoked Goat Brains

Rumor has it that the “brains” behind this creation, head brewer at Dock Street Brewing in Philadelphia is a huge fan of The Walking Dead. Thus inspired the brew fittingly titled “Walker”. This beer is a basic pale American stout, with a little something extra - goat brains. [4]

Well, why not? People actually consider brains a delicacy. According to the Daily Health Post, brains are rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DHA, and anti-oxidants such as carnosine, carotenoids, and tocopherols. [5]

This beer even scored an impressive 3.66/5.00 on the Beer Advocate Site! [6] According to The Full Pint “Dock Street Walker (7.2% ABV) is an American Pale Stout, brewed with substantial amounts of malted wheat, oats and flaked barley for a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Fuggle hops provide delicate, earthy notes while the cranberries create a sinister bloody hue, adding a slight tartness. The pre-sparge-brain-addition provides this beer with intriguing, subtle notes of smoke.” [7]

3. Whale Testicles

Stedji Brewery based in Iceland has stirred up quite the controversy with this one. The International Whaling Commission and brewery co-owner Dabjartur Arilíusson differ in their opinion on whether the fin whale to be an endangered species in the North Atlantic with Arilíusson stating "We have a fisheries system in Iceland with all the fish kinds that is really self-sustainable and responsible."

But wait! There’s more! Also according to Arilíusson, “We work the testicle by the old traditional way. We smoke it with dried sheep sh**. This method gives it a unique smoked flavor, and we also get a bit of the meaty taste in the beer."[8]….eww!

So how does it taste? Rate Beer Says “Hvalur 2 Þorraöl Steðja is an ale we brew for the season of Þorri. What makes this beer special is that, it´s ingredients is Pure Icelandic water, malted barley, hops and sheep shit-smoked whale balls. Icelanders have used this method of smoking for centuries, so we chose to handle the whale balls the same way before we use it in the brew. Because a lack of trees in Iceland, we use dry sheep shit to smoke. This gives the beer an excellent smoke taste, a smoke taste you haven't tried out before... The balls also gives its flavour to the beer......” Okay, we will just take your word for it!

Hvalur 2 Þorraöl Steðja scored a rated average of 2.92/5.00. [9]

This beer is available on tap and in bottles. It is also recommended to serve in a Lager glass, shaker, or tumbler.

4. Human Spit

This South American corn beer has been produced for centuries. The women making this brew would chew the corn then spit it out in water allowing naturally occurring ptyalin enzymes in their saliva to breakdown the starch into maltose.
Dogfish Head Brewing has taken on this um...interesting beer. According to their website, “We've sourced indigenous ingredients to make the most authentic interpretation possible: organic pink Peruvian pepper corns, yellow maize and organic Peruvian purple maize.” And, “As per tradition, instead of germinating all of the grain to release the starches, the purple maize is milled, moistened in the chicha-makers mouths (which we did right here three weeks ago in our Rehoboth brewery). The natural ptyalin enzymes in the saliva act as a catalyst and break the starches into more accessible fermentable sugars. On brewday, the broken down (converted) Peruvian Corn was added to the mash tun pre-boil along with the other grains. This method might sound strange, but it is still used regularly today throughout villages in South and Central America. It is actually quite effective and totally sanitary. Since the grain-chewing (known as salivation) happens before the beer is boiled the beer is sterile and free of the wild yeast and bacteria you would find in modern Belgian Lambics”. [10] Doesn’t that just make your taste buds salivate?Apparently, this ingredient did not scare off beer connoisseurs. It scored an impressive weighted average of 3.17/5.00.This beer is best served in a Dimpled mug, English pint, Stein, or Yard.

5. Lobsters

How about a little lobster with your...err-in your beer? I guess it is no surprise that a brewery based in Maine produced this recipe. Oxbow Brewing has developed “Saison dell’Aragosta” as a special seasonal offering.This is an ale made by boiling whole Maine lobsters in “sweet wort,” a mixture of water, malt and grain Once the lobsters are cooked, they are removed from the sweet wort They are then eaten, picked clean, and their shells, are added back to the wort. Once the shells are removed, hops are added and so goes the usual brewing process.This beer is considered a saison. Saison is French for “season” and is basically a pale ale brewed and stored away for drinking during the summer months. This ‘style” is known for its distinctiveness between many different brewers, appropriate for making a lobster beer. [10] I am thinking no melted butter is necessary whilst partaking in this libation.


6. Human Hair

Blech! Really? Okay so brewers are known for their magnanimously long beards but who came up with this idea? The Rogue brewery based in Portland, OR that’s who.

Brewmaster John Maier had not shaved his beard since 1978 when he and a few coworkers thought it would be interesting to see which kind of yeast strains lived in said beard. Maier was not surprised to find that indeed there was a strain that was perfect for brewing beer, "Yeast is everywhere." [11]

How does it taste? I can’t tell you because I don’t have the stomach to try it. But one Rate beer reviewer says, “Bottle. Hazy orange color with white head. Aroma fruity. Medium body, moderate carbonation. Well balanced sweetness with bitterness. Fruity taste. Bitter finish. Very drinkable.” [12] It also scored a weighted average of 3.24/5, respectively.

Though there are many beers with the word “Beard” on their labels, this one is an authentic beard beer. Don’t forget your comb!

7. Moon Dust

A fascinating ingredient to add to a beer. Dogfish Head Brewing makes our list again! In 2013, DFH was able to source some lunar meteorites for its Celest-jewel-ale.

"These certified moon jewels are made up primarily of minerals and salts, helping the yeast-induced fermentation process and lending this traditional German style a subtle but complex earthiness." [13] In addition to this, they were able to get ILC Dover (the contractor that created the spacesuits worn by the Apollo astronauts on the moon) to design custom space-age beer koozies.

According to Beer Advocate, this beer is sadly retired and no longer available. Its one reviewer on the site gave it a 3.85/5.00 and stated “Deep autumn brown with reddish orangey tinge. Sweet candied malt, breadiness. Nice bready, caramelly malts. Mild earthiness and spice. The usual lager-y characteristics show themselves as well. The description on the beer menu at dogfish head says moon dust was added during the brewing process - wouldn't ever guess that but it certainly sticks to their "off-centered" themes.” [14]

Off centered indeed!

8. Fish Bladder

In 2013, Guinness Brewing had to answer a probing question regarding their use of Isinglass in their fining process for their creamy black stout. Isinglass is a substance pulled from dried fish bladders. Isinglass is primarily used in the fining process for cask conditioned beers.

Many other breweries have switched over to gelatin but the uproar is considered to be overstated as very little isinglass actually makes it out to the finished product.

Guinness is a well-regarded and long-standing brewery and they respectfully replied to the question of their use of isinglass

“In answer to your query, however, we do use isinglass, a by product of the fishing industry, for fining all Guinness brewed beers. Isinglass is used widely in the brewing industry although it is extensively refined before use. Its sole purpose is as a fining agent to help remove yeast from our beer while we accept that some minor traces of isinglass may subsequently remain in the finished product.

We are very happy with the technical performance of isinglass in removing yeast although we are conscious that its use may represent a barrier to consumption of our products to some. As part of our ongoing efforts to further improve the way we make our products, we are seeking alternatives to isinglass. To date, we have not found any alternative that is as effective and as environmentally friendly as isinglass for our product.” [15]

My question is, who comes up with these ideas? Fish bladder in beer, beaver anal glands in imitation vanilla. Do these people just imagine what anal glands from a beaver might taste like and how fish bladders can improve a process in making beer?

9. Cat Poo Coffee Beer

Why? Another beer brewed with coffee beans extracted from an animal’s poop. This time, it is from a cat! Have you ever changed a litter box and thought about brewing something from it? I didn’t think so.

Perrin Brewing Co. has released an imperial brown ale called Big Konas. The Commercial Description on Rate beer is as follows:

“Big Konas is the 4th installment in our Killing Craft Series. This beer was brewed with some of the finest ingredients in the world including cacao nibs from Ecuador and Ghana, Pacari Piura Nube chocolate bars (winner of the 2013 international chocolate awards) and Indonesian civet coffee. Civet coffee or “kopi luwak” is one of the rarest and most exquisite coffees in the world. The Asian Palm Civet, a small mammal, eats wild coffee berries and poops out the seeds. The seeds are then collected, washed (thoroughly we hope), roasted, and sold at top dollar. The digestion process of the Asian Palm Civet makes for the smoothest coffee in the world. Also, we used wild harvested civet coffee, as opposed to caged civet coffee.”

It scored a weighted average of 3.37/5 on Rate beer, respectively.

It could quite possibly be the most expensive beer as imported civet coffee sells for between $100 and $600 per pound. Holy Crap!

10. Bulls Testicles

Colorado craft brewing has been known to be especially “ballsy” when it comes to their ingredients. The state of Colorado is also known as having a love for ‘Rocky Mountain Oysters”, which are in fact bull testicles. You will find this delicacy in just about every specialty restaurant in the state.

So of course, there has to be one brewery to come up with this idea. That would be Wynkoop Brewery based in the city of Denver.

Scoring a weighted average of 3.55/5 on Rate beer, Wynkoop Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout is highly praised regardless of the one quirky ingredient. [16]

According to the Star Touch, this beer started out as an April fools day joke that flourished into a reality. In addition, if you want to try this beer, you will have to travel to the city of Denver as it is not available outside the region.

So do you possess the nads to try this beer?


Do you Dare?

Now that you are armed with this information, are you ready to challenge your palate?



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