Day 6

Goat brains, pizza and other odd additives show off creative beer brewing

It's the first long weekend of the summer, and we've got a look at the weirdest beer recipes out there, recipes including goat brains, yeast cultivated in beard hair and a process that involves playing the Wu Tang Clan 24 hours a day.
(Malty National / Instagram)

A micro-brewery in Iceland uses whale testicles smoked with sheep dung.

A company in Newport, Ore. makes a beer fermented with yeast grown in the brewmaster's beard.

Denmark's Nørrebro Bryghus uses barley fertilized with human urine and the U.K.'s Cerne Abbas Brewery uses watercress in a brew that's said to increase male virility.

Craft breweries around the globe are demonstrating a passion for ingredients unique to their respective corners of the world, and they're using them to create experimental and delicious beers.

Adam Smith is the co-founder of one such brewery. Malty National Brewing Corp. in Regina, Sask. is just over a year old, but they've already created more than 70 unique beers.

"It's important for me to take on ambitious flavours, because that's the beer I want to drink," Smith says.

The taps at Regina's Malty National Brewery are constantly changing. (Malty National / Instagram)

He and Malty National co-creator Kelsey Beach get inspiration from foods they love and flavours from their childhood. For Smith that's chocolate, raspberries, rhubarb, and a few idiosyncratic choices.

"We had an IPA that tasted like peach fountain drink, which was a favourite of mine when I was a kid," he says.  "There's literally no limit to what you can make, which is exciting."

Connecting with community

Malty National's white stout stands as an example of their creativity. Smith credits Beach with tweaking a traditional recipe that resulted in a beer with dark, rich flavours but a light, clear appearance.

Last fall, they also crowdsourced ingredients from their community.

"We put a call out for people growing hops in Regina. If they brought some into the brewery, we'd give them a gift certificate to buy the beer when it was made," he says.


Personality brewing

Mike Murphy, brewmaster at Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger, Norway, sees brewing as a form of expression.

Lervig partnered with Evil Twin Brewing to make a beer with a Norwegian twist. When Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, the founder of Evil Twin and Murphy's long-time friend, asked for ideas, Murphy suggested frozen pizza and money.

Lervig Aktiebryggeri brewmaster Mike Murphy co-created The Big Ass Money Strout with Evil Twin Brewing's Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. (Lervig Aktiebryggeri / Instagram)
"He asked me what do Norwegians eat a lot of and I said frozen pizza. As a joke I said this," Murphy recalls.

"He said 'No, no, no, what do they have a lot?' and I said they have a lot of money." 

That was enough for Jarnit-Bjergsø. Mike admits he was only half joking. Norwegians have a penchant for frozen pizza, specifically Griandiosa, which sells 50 million pies to a nation of just five million people.

Their collaboration led to the Big Ass Money Stout, a bold 17.5% ABV beer that stands out for its story and its flavours. A frozen pizza and sanitized Norwegian kroners were literally added to the mash.

"For me it's important that a craft brewer has a 'wow' beer that gets the attention of the consumer. We're making a lot of everyday beers but you need a beer that turns the head of a person," he says.

"Especially at a beer festival."

Lervig, a brewery in Norway, made a beer that included money and a frozen Grandiosa brand pizza in the mix, with Evil Twin Brewing providing the pizza. (Evil Twin Brewing/Twitter)


Bring da ruckus

Dock Street Brewery's Aleksandr Certo-Ware says beer shouldn't be taken too seriously. It's this thinking that led the west Philadelphia brewery to create two highly experimental brands.

Certo-Ware is one of the brains behind the zombie-inspired Dock Street Walker, a beer that came to life thanks to his love of AMC's The Walking Dead TV show.

"It was a pale stout brewed with cranberries and we added roasted goat brains into the mash," he says.

As one would imagine, the beer went viral. Certo-Ware says they reached 19 million people without spending a dime on advertising.

West Philadelphia's Dock Street Brewing Company created an American Pale Stout made with smoked goat brains (Dock Street Brewery / Facebook)

He says it's part of a larger trend in which experienced brewers are working to infuse their personality in their product.

Certo-Ware turned his love of zombie programming into Dock Street Walker and used his love of of hip hop to create Dock Street Beer Ain't Nothing To Funk With.

He and a former Dock Street brewer filled two Chardonnay barrels with identical versions of a saison. They designated one barrel as the control and made no alterations.  They hooked up two speakers to the second barrel and played a six-month, non-stop loop of Wu Tang Clan.

"Our thought was that the vibrations would affect the way the yeast metabolized sugar, create different flavour profiles and create a constant sense of stimulation," he says.   

Mark Russell, Vince Desrosiers and Sasha Certo-Ware at the November 2015 release party for their Wu-Tang inspired Ain’t Nothing To Funk With beer. (Stephen Lyford / Dock Street Brewery)

44,000 7th Chambers later, they got their answer. Certo-Ware says the beer with the music was drier and more tart.

"At the end of the day, anything that gets people interested in beer — and more, importantly, gets people interested in craft beer — is a giant win for the industry."

"Our voice is beer, and it's kind of nice when people respond to that."

To hear Adam Smith, Aleksandr Certo-Ware and Mike Murphy talk about strange brews, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.