Craft Beer of the Week

Borg Brugghús Fenrir: An IPA Smoked With Sheep Shit

Beer: Borg Brugghús Brewery: Fenrir Taðreyktur IPA Nr. 26 Style: American IPA ABV: 6 percent

This is what you get, beer snobs. This is what happens when you chase down delivery trucks carrying the newest barrel-aged stout, wait in line for hours to sample an IPA made with 42 different hops, or fork over hundreds of dollars for ales made with stuff like Sriracha and beard yeast and bull testicles. This is what you get when regular old water, malt, hops and yeast are no longer good enough.

You get a beer made with sheep shit.

See also: 5 Gifts for the Beer Geek

At least Lamchop's poo itself wasn't just plopped into Fenrir, the newest (and crappiest) beer from Borg Brugghús in Reykjavik, Iceland. But smoke produced by burning the droppings -- the poo's essence -- is. To give Fenrir its fecal flavor, the Borg Brugghús' brewers in place their malted barley in a smoke oven and light a sheep-shit fire underneath. After a few days, the smoke permeates the barley and you've got a nice, fresh batch of manure malt.

Using stool this way is actually a fairly common practice, according to the brewers. "With Iceland not having many trees, people had to smoke their meat somehow," they say. "So what do you use as fuel when you have no trees? Sheep shit."

Now, the people of Iceland are not normal. But neither am I, and I have to admit I was intrigued by Fenrir. When most others would think "Ew," I say "Ewe!"

So I drank it. A few glasses, actually. The beer gives away none of its excretory nature in the appearance; it's your standard liquid gold hue, brilliantly clear and topped with a frothy head of white. The aroma is, as you would expect, smoky. But not shit-smoky -- smooth-smoky, like the smell of a tobacco pipe or the inside of a recently toasted oak barrel on its way to a distillery. Soft vanilla vapors swirl alongside subtle grassy and earthy hops.The flavor is equal parts smoke and hops, with big wood flavor balanced by biting orange peel and grass before a finish of lime and oak. The smoke, again, is woodsy as a seared chunk of oak pulled from a campfire.

Of course it's gimmicky, and of course it was produced to troll all the rabid beer nerds who crave ever weirder flavors. But ignore that feces were used as part of the brewing process, and Fenrir is actually pretty enjoyable, especially for fans of smoked beers. Let's just not make a habit out of putting number two in our brew, okay? Life's shitty enough.

Zach Fowle is a BJCP-recognized beer judge and a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.

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