By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 14, 2017
© zmurciuk_k / L. Toshio Kishiyama / Getty Images

Forget craft beers made from hops that are so experimental they still have a number instead of a name. Or a brew fermented with yeast cultured from the brewer’s beard. And don’t even bother getting excited over a beer made with pedestrian ingredients like Oreos. The latest headline-grabbing brew possibly sets a new standard in far out ingredients: the trimmings from $20,000 bonsai trees.

Cervejaria Heroica is a Brazilian brewery that makes an IPA with a unique Japanese twist. According to Munchies, brewer Lucas Domingues teamed up with his brother-in-law, Renato Bocabello, one of Brazil’s biggest bonsai masters to make Kuromatsue Kamikaze IPA – a beer that gets its flavor profile not just from hops, but from the snippets of these tiny trees. “I noticed some similarity to many resinous hop flavors, noticeably perceived in some IPAs, and we wondered how a beer made with the bonsai pine branches would taste. So we came up with our Kuromatsu Kamikaze IPA,” Domingues told Munchies. “Everyone who tasted the beer loved it.”

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Though the trees may be small by definition, Bocabello prunes over 400 bonsais twice a year, so apparently there are enough tiny tree bits to produce about 50 barrels annually. And though these trimmings themselves aren’t worth five figures, some of the trees they come from have quite the pedigree. Many of the trees are over 100 years old, some valued at over $20,000. “But I only provide the ingredients,” Bocabello is quoted as saying, playing down his role. “It’s they who have the arduous task of transforming whatever is left from the pruning of my bonsais into good beers. I’m only the bonsai master. They are the real heroes.”

Kuromatsu Kamikaze IPA only launched last year, but already Heroica is talking about increasing production. It’ll be interesting to see if bonsai tree beers become a growing trend. That is until we end up with something like MillerCoors creating Blue Moon Bonsai Ale and cornering the world’s bonsai trimmings market.

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