A French brewery teamed up with a spirulina producer to make the distinctly-hued IPA.
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Two workers from Hoppy Urban Brew with the new blue beer made with algae
Credit: Courtesy of Hoppy Urban Brew

Several years back, blue wine was making headlines in France. Now in 2022, it's blue beer that's creating a bit of a stir.

Hoppy Urban Brew (aka HUB) — based in the city of Roubaix, not far from the Belgian border — teamed up with a company called Etika Spirulina which grows spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, that is then supplied to the brewery to give the beer its blue hue, according to Reuters. The hope is that the eye-catching drink — which gets its color from the compound phycocyanin — can also help Etika Spirulina promote its algae as a dietary supplement.

"It's getting an enormous amount of interest and curiosity on the part of the public," Sebastien Verbeke, the brewery's co-founder, told the news outlet. HUB is reportedly already working on ramping up production after 1,500 bottles of the 3-percent ABV brew (which is called Line) sold out over the last three months of 2021.

Hoppy Urban Brew
Credit: Courtesy of Hoppy Urban Brew

"We started to brew our blue beer after we met Etika Spirulina's team two years ago," Verbeke told Food & Wine over email. "First it was a kind of a challenge to have a blue pigment and not the green that you can have when you use raw spirulina." But after rounds of testing, the brewers finally came upon a recipe that achieved the color — and taste — they were looking for. "We are now thinking to share our research with all people interested [in duplicating] this experience as long as they do that on a local scale," he added.

Despite its blue color, the beer itself is billed as a session IPA. "It's quite disconcerting," HUB's Mathilde Vanmansart explained while tasting the beer, "because since it's blue, our brains expect a certain note, but, no, we really have here a session IPA, a very light beer, and the flavors of the beer really come through. We can taste that it has a light alcohol content with quite the taste of hops, with slight notes of citrus. And in the back of the mouth, there's a slight taste of lychee. It's quite refreshing."

Of course, after 40 years of craft beer, seemingly everything has been done before. We've seen a blue beer colored with blue seaweed in Japan, covered a green "algae" beer in Ohio (though it wasn't actually made with algae) — and, yes, a quick search on Untappd shows that, indeed, breweries have tossed spirulina in beers before to help coax out a blue hue. But when it comes to convincing people to consume algae, every bit helps, right?