Just when you think you’ve tasted all the world has to offer, up pops a beer incorporating ingredients so strange that suddenly you are overcome by one of two things: excitement or bewilderment. Rarely do any of these boundary pushing or, in some cases, “shark-jumping” concoctions play it safe. Because, in the case of these wildly experimental brews the brewer is almost always looking to blow minds.
When I consider some of the peculiar beers that I’ve encountered over the years – and their “off the beaten path” approaches – a few stand out. Some work, others do not. This is not to say they weren’t necessarily good, rather they just didn’t do it for me.
(But, more than a few were definitely not good.)
Frankly, some ingredients I’ve encountered in recent years have left me questioning the brewery’s motivations and penchant for marketing gimmicks. I mean, beer is all too often taken too seriously by a lot of folks these days, but brewing a beer with beef hearts, donuts, sriracha sauce, fried chicken, or bacon? Even if everyone “loves” bacon, lines must be drawn somewhere. And I tend to draw the line with bacon in my beer.
While fatty animal proteins – and many other things – in the brew kettle might seem excessive, occasionally the added salinity of ocean dwellers in a beer actually works. Take the classic, but somewhat rare British style known as the “Oyster Stout.” Here’s a beer even the intrepid beer-hunter may shy away from initially based on perfectly normal assumptions. But, once engaged, the mellow roastiness, with subtle, if any, noticeable bivalve salinity will quickly and fondly attach itself to your palate. And, when it comes to the Gose, where salt is a traditional ingredient, some have taken to using other ocean adjuncts for salty qualities.
Evil Twin, known for many beers that could be labeled “gimmicky” (but are easily forgiven for their deliciousness), has brewed some interesting and astounding beers the last few years. One such brew was a Gose collaboration with Two Roads featuring Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr (a yogurt-like Icelandic cheese) and birch-smoked sea salt.
Usually, when it comes to far-fetched “drinkable” ingredients being able to elevate a brew, it comes down to choosing the right ratios for balance, and nuanced layers of flavor that will not overpower the drinker. In “Two Evil Geyser Gose” the melding of such obscure ingredients works in very interesting ways. And, if you like Goses – already an adventure for your taste buds – this one will blow your top.
This week’s recommendation: Two Roads/Evil Twin “Two Evil Geyser Gose,” a sour/tart beer with a hint of smoke, light lemon color, dry finish and thirst quenching appeal. 5.5 percent ABV. Stratford, Connecticut.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica.