Brew Review

Abnormal Ales: 10 Beers with Weird Ingredients

More than 500 years ago, German Beer Purity Law decreed that the world's favorite fermented beverage was to be made with only four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. In recent years, however, the definition of a permissible beer ingredient has expanded somewhat, and brewers worldwide have branched out, throwing stuff in their beers ranging from the mildly unusual to the downright bizarre. From chilies to spices to sea life, these are the top ten beers that make you say, "Huh?"

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel 10.9% ABV
This imperial stout is brewed with Vietnamese caphe cut chon coffee beans, made from the droppings of weasel-like civet cats, which purportedly eat only the best and ripest coffee berries. After enzymes in the cats' digestive systems break down the beans, workers scour the ground to collect the droppings for use in your morning Joe. Despite these inauspicious origins, the resulting beer is a creamy, pungent coffee stout that's good to the last dropping. 

Porterhouse Oyster Stout 4.8% ABV
This beer's an Irish dry stout, a la Guinness, with the added aspect of having been brewed with fresh oysters. It's a smooth, aromatic stout with the discernable yet hard-to-identify flavor of bivalves that must be enticing to some, as it won a gold medal in Belfast 1997.It is, however, not suitable for vegetarians.

Saison du BUFF 6.8% ABV
A virtual spice rack of a beer. A collaboration between Dogfish Head (Milton, Delaware), Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA) and Victory Brewing Company (Downington, PA), the idea for Saison du BUFF formed in 2003 when the three owners of the breweries formed the BUFF Alliance (Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor) with the noble ideal of highlighting the camaraderie of American craft brewing. Seven years later, the taste of teamwork emerges in a beer with aromas and flavors of coriander, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, basil and white pepper. Spicy and complex yet crisp and refreshing, it's the perfect pre-dinner beverage.

Original C Cave Creek Chili Beer 4.2% ABV

We're not going to lie to you: you probably won't like this beer. A constant contender atop many "worst beer in America" lists, Original C is like any other pale lager, with one tiny difference -- a whole Serrano pepper sits menacingly at the bottom of the glass. It's a chaotic blend of grain and pepper heat that must be tasted to be believed.   

Browerij Smisje Wostyntje Mustard Ale 7% ABV
Hard to pronounce and even harder to describe, Wostyntje is a funky Belgian strong pale ale brewed using mustard seeds. Musky, spicy, sweet and sour, it's a beer custom-made for pairing with hot dogs. 

Sprecher Mbege Ale 7% ABV
Popular in Eastern Africa, Mbege-style beers are brewed from bananas. Sprecher's iteration -- the result of an effort to provide a traditional African style beer for Milwaukee's African World Festival -- is brewed with sorghum, millet and banana juice. It's unfiltered, gluten-free, and tastes like liquid banana Runts. 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Zach Fowle
Contact: Zach Fowle