There’s the German purity law, and then there’s the complete anarchy of modern beer making – no ingredient is safe, no palate will be spared. If, like your travel, you like to go off the beaten beer track, here are eight out-there options.
1. Kriek – Brouwerij Lindemans, Belgium
Take your Lambic beers up a notch with the addition of fruit. This classic cherry version is another entrant that has history rather than contemporary styling on its side. It’s an acquired taste for some, tart and sour, but try it on a hot summer day – you'll come around.
2. Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout – Wynkoop Brewing Company, USA
The oysters in question here are actually bull’s testicles. Let that sink in for a minute… just as the testicles did into the mash for this beer. This heavy-duty stout is on tap all-year-round (and also in a can). Bottoms up!
3. Marrickville Pork Roll – Batch Brewing Co, Australia
In a suburb of Sydney known for a strong Vietnamese community comes a beer that wears its local heart on its weird sleeve. A Vietnamese Pork Roll complete with processed pork meats, coriander, carrot and chilli has lent its ingredients to this beer – and it does just what it says on the tin!
4. Hvalur 2 – Brugghús Steðji, Iceland
There might be a theme developing, but let’s cut to the chase. This is a beer brewed with sheep-dung smoked whale’s testicles. There’s no other way to say it. It is apparently smoky and it’s unquestionably weird.
5. Snake Venom – Brewmeister, Scotland
Most beer comes in at around 5% alcohol. A big Belgian might come in at 9%, maybe 10% … the weirdness here doesn’t come from a bodily fluid or seafood item – it comes from having 67% alcohol. No session ale, a single shot of the spirit-like brew should be enough.
6. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen – Schlenkerla, Germany
Despite the call-out to the German Purity Laws (ie beer must contain water, malt, yeast and hops), don’t think it’s just modern ales that can take you to the weird side. Try this German smoked wheat beer for size. You’ll swear a smoked pig was liquefied – big, chewy and kind of challenging.
7. Shaved Black Truffle Beer – Moody Tongue, USA
For the beer drinker with deep pockets comes this funky, truffle-infused Pilsner that was designed to accompany, you guessed it, truffle dishes. Difficult to justify maybe, but if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
8. Chicha – South America
This traditional alcoholic beverage hails from South America, made from maize that’s chewed, spat and collected to form a fermentable mash. Dogfish Head brewery tried its hand at this, staff contributing to the masticated corn base. Dogfish has released the brew for a limited time since 2009.
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This article was originally published in May 2020 and updated in January 2021.