This New Blue Beer Is Already Selling Out in France

A French brewery teamed up with a spirulina producer to make the distinctly-hued IPA.

Two workers from Hoppy Urban Brew with the new blue beer made with algae
Photo: 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
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?

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