With so many breweries competing for attention—thousands in the US alone—brewers have taken to throwing all sorts of crazy ingredients into their beers to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Sometimes, it feels like they’d throw in the whole ocean if they could—and one UK brewery pretty much tried.
The Wild Beer Company, a brewery in southwest England whose name gets at its love of making far out beers—especially sours made with wild yeast—has released a beer called “Of The Sea,“ described as “bringing the sea to your glass.” To pull that off, the brewers used 30 live lobsters as well as cockles, foraged Kombu and dulse seaweeds and sea herbs. Finally, they added Cornish sea salt, saffron and star anise for seasoning and used saison yeast to create a brew with “a briny hit and rich smoothness which accentuates the taste of the sea.”
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What inspired such a bizarre beer? The brewery says it set out hoping to emulate lobster bisque after a brewery bisque cook-off. Wild Beer co-founder Andrew Cooper told The Huffington Post that the reaction to the idea was initially ‘mixed’—to put it mildly, I’d think. “But we’d far rather brew something genuinely interesting and one that gets an emotional reaction from people than just another beer,” he told the site.
For the brewery staff, the strange beer served double duty. After adding the lobsters to the boil for 12 minutes, the brewers pulled them out and used the meat to make a lobster roll lunch. Meanwhile, the shells were tossed back into the boil to intensify the lobster flavor.
As might be expected, Of The Sea was a small batch production—only 120 kegs and 8,000 bottles were made. As for whether a lobster bisque-inspired beer is worth drinking, that’s up to personal tastes. Crowdsourced beer rating app Untappd currently has the beer getting a not-particularly-stellar 3.36 out of 5 star average across 845 ratings. But that includes a fair share of really positive responses. One reviewer describes it as a “weird experience that really works.” I guess it partly depends on if you’re in the mood for soup.