What do Pizza, Bacon, and Coconut Curry Have in Common? Besides being delicious, they are craft beer flavors that are actually being brewed as we speak. I’m actually astonished I’m still writing this, not running haphazardly from one store to another, trying to find these whimsical beers.
Creativity is the life force of the human world. It’s what separates us from the animals, what delights us in the dull days, and what propels the human condition with beauty and intrigue. But most importantly, it’s what differentiates craft beer from the tepid yellow swill that we all drank in college.
Craft beer is the drink of dreamers. It’s the drink of those who say, “WHY NOT!?!?!” It’s the drink of those with wild ambition, with ideas and plans that not everyone understands. Those who brew it and those who drink it know that craft beer is an art form, and in this article I’ll talk about some of the breweries that have stolen all the colorful tubes of paint and are creating raucous, wild works that shock and awe and delight their fellow dreamers.
First of all…Pizza Beer. That’s right, I said it. Actually I wrote it, but I also said it out loud as I was typing. And someone gave me an odd look out of the corner of his eye, but I know that eavesdropping cuss is curious. And you should be too, because what kind of magnificent brewery has combined these two perfect things?
Homebrewers Tom and Athena Seefurth of the US state of Illinois were curious one day, and unwittingly made the dreams of every human come true when they were looking to create a beer that would pair well with pizza. Along with their typical brew, they added tomatoes, which they weren’t at first sure would work out, and pizza spices like garlic, oregano, and basil. And THEN, this is wild, Tom and Athena actually MADE A PIZZA, put it in a cheesecloth pouch like a tea bag, and left it to steep in the mash. So they basically made pizza tea. (That’s another million dollar idea). Now Mamma Mia Pizza Beer is touted as the “World’s First Culinary Beer” and rated at Geek Magazine as “91 out of 100”. Find it and try it!
You might be thinking that obscure beers are very hard to find, but this next brewery actually has a remarkable distribution radius. I’ll never forget living in China (where I lived for two years), a land of terrible light beer (sorry, not sorry), and seeing in the import section of a grocery store in Shanghai a lineup of Rogue Brewery’s Mocha Porters. I almost cried, and I say that proudly.
You may never get your hands on Pizza Beer, but I’m certain you’ll find a Rogue. Rogue Brewery is the bad stallion of the craft brewing world. It’s a rebel, a flouter of societal expectations, and it clearly has fun with beer.
Rogue Brewing VooDoo Donut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale: That exists. Maybe the longest title of a beer ever, but it exists. Peanut butter is classically difficult to brew with due to the oils, but Rogue has done it in this wild beer that I’ve had exactly six dreams about since I researched this piece. Rogue also has made a VooDoo Doughnut Lemon Chiffon Crueller Ale which uses lemons and marshmallows in the mash. Lemons and marshmallows! And Rogue has taken everyone’s favorite hot sauce, Sriracha (wuuut, Sriracha’s not your favorite?) and created a Sriracha Stout, in a bright red bottle that I’ve actually laid eyes on but didn’t buy because I was afraid. No longer! Sriracha! Lemons and Marshmallows! Peanut butter and Banana! What will those crazies think of next?
I think that’s the fun of craft beer. Literally, what will they think of next? There are truly infinite possibilities, and the adventure of discovery need never end.
New Belgium Brewery also has jumped into the enchanted well of wild brewing with their Coconut Curry Hefeweizen. Hefeweizen is made with wheat, that in the brewing process, emits sweet flavors of banana, so this kind of beer lends itself very well to coconut. In the process of brewing the hefeweizen, New Belgium also adds coconut, curry spices, cinnamon, coriander, fenugreek (what the heck is fenugreek), ginger, cayenne pepper, and kaffir limes. I would love to sip that beer on a beach somewhere. Or I’d love to sip it in a boring place and bring the beach to me.
Finally, the Funky Buddha brews a Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, which is a great breakfast if you’re looking to lose your job or at least get those gossips in Accounting talking. The sweet flavors of maple and the smoke from the bacon blend excellently with the sweetness and smoke found already in the barley wort of a Porter. The bitterness of coffee also compliments the hops in porter. This is an excellent blend of everything good in the world. I’ve had a Bacon Stout once, and I still think about it when I need to recall a good memory.
Dude. Craft beers, eh? Weird and wild and loving every minute of it. Try to find some of these odd varieties. Your mouth will be so excited you might not talk for a couple days.
Maybe, though, you’re not interested in throwing caution to the wind. Maybe you appreciate safety, just dipping your toe into the enchanted well that the rest of us are partying in. No problem! We’ll drag you down here eventually!
Pumpkin ales are unusual in flavor, but just traditional enough that they’re not too hard to find. Craft breweries will roast the pumpkin (a literal pumpkin! A big orange pumpkin!), bringing out flavors of caramel and smoke. The process of roasting also gets rid of a lot of the pumpkin’s water, making a richer wort. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice are all added, and the ultimate drink for Autumn is born. This is the perfect beer for an October bonfire, when you’re wearing fingerless gloves and a charming sweater. Give Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Cigar City Brewing a try (it was rated as number 1 on beeradvocate.com). Elysian Brewing Company has also crafted some top-rated pumpkin ales that are worth a try. I’ve said this before, though, that just about any craft beer you try will be worth it. Made with love, creativity, and care, craft beer is the place to be for flavor. Our enchanted well is also good for that too.
The American journalist, author, and torrid dreamer Hunter S. Thompson said, “It never got weird enough for me.” If you think that beer is just okay, you’re not dreaming hard enough. Craft breweries are filled with excellent weirdos, hardcore dreamers, and enchanted wells that we all can look forward to experiencing, but joining in the adventure.