WTF Ingredients

Recently, brewers have been brewing beers with some exceptionally unusual ingredients, and the trend doesn’t show any sign of stopping. Beers ranging from the Icelandic beer infused with whale testicles to a saison brewed with prehistoric, fossilized yeast DNA—and a pilsner made with recycled human urine. These are some of the weirdest ingredients used in brewing beers.

The acceptance and liking of unconventional or flamboyant food flavors are related to food neophobia. The term food neophobia can be defined as a reluctance to eat unfamiliar foods. This phenomenon happens because humans need to approach novel foods in their search for food; but otherwise, they need to protect themselves from potentially poisonous foods. Food neophobia has been shown to be strongly correlated with an individual’s willingness to eat and liking of unfamiliar foods.

Bacon beers may seem a delicious novelty, but until the 19th century all beers had a meaty taste to them. Barley, the grain that gives beer its alcohol and much of the flavor, was dried over open flames so a bacon-like smoke infusion was unavoidable. The malty sweetness of the base beer blends perfectly with salty, savory, and smoky bacon to create a delicious and unique beer. 

Commercial Examples: Morning Wood | Funky Buddha Brewery; Hipster Brunch Stout | Odd Side Ales; Pi|Coffee Porter – Bacon + Maple | Brew By Numbers

Real smoked pig bones give it the smokey flavor. A rich and chocolaty porter brewed with real smoked pig parts. Not for vegetarians! You simply have to experience this beer and describe it to your friends. The version with Mangalitsa pigs won 2011 Gold Medal Winner for Best Experimental Beer at the Great American Beer Festival.

Commercial Examples: Pig Porter / Mangalista Pig Porter | Right Brain Brewery

Scrapple, also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name Pannhaas (“pan hare” in English), is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. Beer for Breakfast is brewed with  coffee, maple syrup, Delaware-made Rapa scrapple and malty spices.

Commercial Examples: Beer for Breakfast | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Shellac is scraped from the bark of the trees where the female lac bug, Kerria lacca (order Hemiptera, family Kerriidae), secretes it to form a tunnel-like tube as it traverses the branches of the tree. This insect is in the same superfamily as the insect from which cochineal is obtained. The insects suck the sap of the tree and excrete “sticklac” almost constantly.

Commercial Example: Blacque Jacques Shellac | Brocklebank Craft Brewing

Conwy Brewery created a lamb-flavored ‘Sunday Toast’ beer to mark St David’s Day.  The brewery infused lamb during the brewing process to create this blend, which combines the aromas of a roast with dark ale. First the Welsh lamb is slow-roasted to enhance its natural flavor and tenderness, then the dissolved meat juices and sugar are kept in the brew to simmer for a week. 

 Commercial Examples: Sunday Toast | Conwy Brewery

Philadelphia’s Dock Street Brewing Company released Walker, a zombie-friendly brew in honor of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” American Pale Stout (7.2% ABV). Walker, is made with malted wheat, oats, flaked barley, cranberry and an extra-special ingredient — smoked goat brains. The pre-sparge goat brain addition provides this beer with intriguing, subtle notes of smoke. and the addition of red cranberries the color.

Commercial Examples: Walker | Dock Street Brewing Co.

Chicha is an ancient corn beer from the Andes region in South America, traditional beginning the fermentation process by locals chewing the corn and spitting out the kernels into a shared depository. At Dogfish Head, they reproduced the ancient beer and tradition using co- worker masticated purple Peruvian corn, malted corn and malted barley. The wort was then boiled for full sterilization, then fermented into Chicha.

Commercial Example: Chicha | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Chicha Quechua | Oshlag Brasserie & Distillerie;

Wellington brewery Choice Bros, developed the stag semen stout for The Green Man Pub in Wellington, New Zealand. They brewed a “milked” stout that includes export-qualitydeer semen—because the quality is really what people are going to be hung up on when they try to drink this beer. This beer won a Silver medal at 2015 BGNZ Awards. The specimen was received from a local deer stud farm.

Commercial Example: Stag Semen Milked Stout (The Green Man) | Choice Brothers Brewing Co.

Evil Twin and popular Norwegian brewery Lervig Aktiebryggeri have taken inspiration from our college needs and made a beer with frozen Hawaiian pizza and money. (They use real Norwegian banknotes.) Even though you’d think the whole pizza-money combo would create its own special version of grossness, the final product boasts rich coffee notes and a high 20-percent alcohol by volume.

Commercial Example: Big Ass Money Stout | LERVIG & Evil Twin

Honey Dew Honey comes from the beech forests of New Zealand. The forests attract aphids, sooty beech scale insects, caterpillars and moths that feed on the tree sap and then secrete a sugar-like substance on the trees which sparkles in the sunlight, hence the name honeydew. The honeydew-like nectar is actually a sweet aromatic sap that trickles from the tree and is gathered by bees.

Commercial Examples: Beer Camp Across the World Campout Porter (2017) | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Steðji Hrútur has similar character as Hvalur 2 beer. Since Hvalur is banned in EU countries because of its ingredients (whale testicles), this beer is brewed  with sheep dung smoked ram’s testicles for export under the name Hrútur. The name hrútskýrir is the Icelandic word for ram, which in this instance is a reference to the season, winter, as ram testicles are a local delicacy enjoyed this time of year. 

Commercial Example: Hrútur |Brugghús Steðja

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment created in the city of Worcester in Worcestershire, England, during the first half of the 19th century by pharmacists  John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, who went on to form the company Lea & Perrins. Worcestershire sauces includes anchovies. Several brands sell anchovy-free varieties of Worcestershire sauce,

Commercial Example: (Vegan) Breakfast of Champions | Moon Dog Craft Brewery;  (Non-Vegan w/Anchovies) Worchestershire CASK | LTM – Les Trois Mousquetaires; Worcestershire Sauce | Boggart Hole Clough Brewery

Wyncoop Brewing Company, based in the Denver area, brews with sliced and roasted bull testicles (aka Rocky Mountain Oysters) to produce a meaty, foreign-style stout. This started out as a joke–Wyncoop brewing released an April Fool’s Day video touting the beer in 2012. Then they decided to make the actual testicle beer due to popular demand.

Commercial Example: Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout | Wyncoop Brewing Co.; Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout | The Brewer’s Cabinet

Brewed by Sprecher. The beer was developed Labor Day, 2006 by Tom and Athena Seefurth who used a Margarita pizza. The is put into the mash & steeped like a tea bag. A whole wheat crust made with water, flour & yeast is topped with tomato, oregano, basil & garlic. The essence of the pizza spices is washed off with hot water and filtered into a brew pot, where it is boiled for a long, long time.

Commercial Examples: Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer | Pizza Beer Co.

A lab technician swabbed brewer John Maier’s beard as a joke. Having found it to be a viable yeast source (Maier hasn’t shaved his beard for about 25 yeast) they set about cultivating more of the yeast for wider use in a beer. You’re really not drinking a beard but actully drinking a beer that happens to have yeast that comes from a beard. Brewers have used wild yeasts in beer making for centuries.

Commercial Example: Beard Beer | Rogue Ales Brewery Co.

Dogfish Head Brewery created the first beer that includes real moon dust in the recipe. Celeste Jewel a beer that was out of this world, literally, with their meteorite steeped beer. To make this spacey ale the brewers took lunar meteorites, crushed them up and steeped the meteorites in the beer like tea. They acquired the moon dust from ILC Dover, a company that makes spacesuits for NASA.

Commercial Example: Celest-jewel Ale | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Hvalur 2 is a whale beer and is one of the most controversial beer in the world. This ale 5.2% is specially brewed for Þorri which is a season in Iceland. The beer is brewed using pure Icelandic water, barley, berry hops and the main ingredient sheep-dung smoked whale testicle. The testicles are cured according to an old Icelandic tradition, salted, and then smoked with sheep dung. A whole testicle is used in every brewing cycle, and then the beer is filtered and pasteurized.

Commercial Example: Hvalur 2  | Brugghús Steðja

Mr. Twit’s Odious Ale has been brewed utilising yeast swabbed from the wood of Roald Dahl’s famous writing chair; a specially-adapted armchair created to ease the pain of a back injury sustained during WWII, as the author avoided writing at a desk. With the permission of Dahl’s estate, brewers took a swab from the chair itself, which will be used to culture all the yeast needed for the beer.

Commercial Example: Mr Twit’s Odious Ale | 40FT Brewery & Taproom

Kopi luwak is a coffee that consists of partially digested coffee cherries, which have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). It is also called civet coffee. The cherries are fermented as they pass through a civet’s intestines, and after being defecated with other fecal matter, they are collected.

Commercial Example: Hunahpu’s Final Push | Cigar City Brewing Co.

The project branded ‘beercycling’ after urine was used as fertilizer. More than 50,000 litres of urine was collected at the Roskilde Festival in 2015 (Denmark’s largest music festival). It is the result of a collaboration by the Danish Agricultural and Food Council and brewery Nørrebro Bryghus. Danish farmers collected and used the urine to fertilize the barley field, and 60,000 bottles of Pisner were produced.

Commercial Example: Pisner | Nørrebro Bryghus also Full Circle IPA | Stone Brewing Co.

This sought-after Japanese brew is basically elephant-coffee feces beer. Black Ivory Coffee has been made by fermenting coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of Thai elephants. Black Ivory Coffee is manufactured at the Elephant Conservation Center in northern Thailand. Black Ivory Coffee is among the world’s most expensive coffees, at US$2,000 per kilogram.

Commercial Examples: Un Kono Blend Kuro (うん、このブレンド黒) | SanktGallen Brewery; Rarest Bean | The Unknown Brewing Co.

A bouillon cube (Canada and US), stock cube (Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and UK), broth cube (Asia) or stock pot (UK) is dehydrated broth or stock formed into a small cube about 13 mm (1⁄2 in) wide. It is typically made from dehydrated vegetables, meat stock, a small portion of fat, MSG, salt, and seasonings, shaped into a small cube. Vegetarian and vegan types are also made. Bouillon is also available in granular, powdered, liquid, and paste forms.

Commercial Examples: TBD

This Ale was created from an ancient beer recipe (circa 1500’s) discovered in the Scottish Highlands. Although the earliest printed recipe was published by Englishman, Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665) who wrote, “These are tame days when we have forgotten how to make Cock-Ale,” and listed the recipe: Take eight gallons of ale; take a cock and boil him well; then take four pounds of Raisins of the Sun well stoned, two or three nutmegs, three or four flakes of Mace, half a pound of Dates; beat all of these in a Mortar, and put to them two quarts of the best Sack; and when the Ale hath done working, put these in, and stop it close to six or seven days, and then bottle it, and a month after you may drink it. 

Commercial Examples: Big Red Cock Ale | Bacchus Brewing Co.

Castoreum is a yellowish-brown, unctuous substance with a strong, penetrating odor which beavers secrete from castor sacs located in skin cavities between the pelvis and the base of the tail and spray when scent-marking their territory. Due to the beaver’s typical diet of leaves and bark, castoreum doesn’t “stink” as other similar animal secretions do, but rather has a musky, vanilla scent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls the beaver’s goo a generally safe additive for food. For the past 80 years, food scientists have added it to products, often labeled only as “natural flavoring. Castoreum extract can be used to enhance raspberry or strawberry flavorings.

Commercial Examples: Bäver | Närke Kulturbryggeri; Geile Bever N˚ 1 | Ramses Bier

The Saúvas leaf-cutting ant, (Atta laevigata) commonly called bachac; fungus-growing ant; and leaf-cutting ant are the primary herbivores of tropical areas such as Central America. The ants are social insects found that get their name from the way they cut leaves from trees, which they then haul back to their nest. The Leafcutter ants do not actually eat the leaves, as they are species of ants that are fungus farmers, they cultivate (grow) their own food, a type of fungus, in underground gardens. Saúva ants in the Upper Rio Negro haves become a popular ingredients in Amazonian gastronomy, reportedly tasting like lemongrass, ginger and cardamom.

Commercial Examples: Formiga Sauva | Ramses Bier

Beef bones also called Cent Cut Bones; Femur Bones; Knuckle Bones; Marrow Bones, Stock Bones, are the parts that are leftover from when a butcher carves a piece of meat and leaves the bones. While there is not enough meat on them for a full meal, these work wonderfully for adding more flavor. Beef bones are most commonly used for stock. The flavor of the stock comes from the bone marrow, cartilage and other connective tissue. Connective tissue contains collagen, which is converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. The most common bones used include beef shank, femur or humerus bones cut lengthwise exposing the marrow. The Bruery used femur bones in this brew.

Commercial Examples: Creamy Milk Bone | The Bruery

The Otway Black Snail is only found in wet forests and cool temperate rainforests in the Otway Ranges, Victoria, Australia It is one of four species of Victaphanta in the family Rhytididae, being carnivorous land snails. With a grey-blue to black body and a glossy black (sometimes dark brown) shell, these little snails grow to a maximum diameter of 28mm. The shell is thin and moderately flexible, and composed mostly of conchin – the fibrous insoluble protein that forms the basic structure of molluscs. Unlike other species of Vicaphanta snails, the Otways Black Snail does not have an orange frill around its foot, or any orange mucous.

Commercial Example: Escargose | Blackman’s Brewery

Wasps are any member of a group of insects in the order Hymenoptera, suborder Apocrita. Wasps are distinguished from the ants and bees of Apocrita by various behavioral and physical characteristics, particularly their possession of a slender, smooth body and legs with relatively few hairs. Wasps also generally are predatory or parasitic and have stingers with few barbs that can be removed easily from their victims. Similar to other members of Apocrita, wasps have a narrow petiole, or “waist,” which attaches the abdomen to the thorax. Wasps have biting mouthparts and antennae with 12 or 13 segments.  The Bruery’s Wild Brett Wasp sour was fermented with yeast harvested from wasp guts.

Commercial Example: Wild Brett Wasp Sour // Coolship Collaboration Series 02/04 | Field House Brewing Co.

Pork is the culinary name for the meat of the domestic pig and is is eaten both freshly cooked and preserved. Pork and the cuts, provides a traditional range of cooked or salted and dried meats, which varied, sometimes distinctively, from region to region. Prosciutto, in full prosciutto crudo, is an Italian uncooked, unsmoked, and dry-cured ham, from a leg cut, that is usually served thinly sliced. Lonza is a meat product made from a boneless lean pork loin that is typically salt-cured and then air-dried over a period of at least 3 to 4 months. Cured, it is one of the most prized Italian cold cuts, sometimes called lonza stagionata. Ham is pork from a leg cut that has been preserved by wet or dry curing, with or without smoking.As a processed meat, the term “ham” includes both whole cuts of meat and ones that have been mechanically formed. Fonta Flora’s Cured Monk contains all three.

Commercial Examples: Cured Monk | Fonta Flora Brewery; Ham Porter | Highland Park Brewery