Have you ever had a bad mussel? If you did, did you (a) send the dish back or (b) dig deeper down in the bowl in the hopes that your luck would change? If you selected option B, have I got a beer for you? A half dozen of them actually. Let’s get to work.
Starting at the top — in this case the top of the page — you will find a photograph of the key ingredient in Hvalur, a product of Iceland tracing its origins back to the Middle Ages. That object in the picture is a whale’s testicle, all 18 pounds of it, chopped up and stuffed into a sausage casing. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Before the organ is ready to be made into beer, it first needs to be smoked — in sheep’s dung. If you want to enjoy Hvalur in its proper context, do as the Icelanders do and serve it at a feast that includes such delicacies as ram’s testicle (do I detect a theme emerging?), rotten shark, and cured sheep’s head.
If you’re in the market for something a little less — shall we say? — piquant than Hyalur, you’ll want to know about Un, Kono Kuro, a Japanese contender for your beer dollar brewed by Sankt Gallen brewery. Its nickname is “chocolate beer,” but don’t get the wrong idea. There’s no chocolate in it. What there is is elephant feces flavored with coffee. More specifically, the beer is made by fermenting coffee beans that have passed through the digestive system of Thai elephants. Bottoms up!
Moving right along, a saying among beer drinkers, usually uttered on their way to the john, is that you don’t buy beer, you rent it. Mindful of that wisdom, six years ago Danish brewery Nørrebro Bryghus began making beer out of the rental. The first production run of the company’s “pisner” (note the spelling) followed a music festival in 2015 during which the crew harvested 50,000 gallons of human urine for re-consumption.
In a similar vein, San Diego’s Stone Brewing makes its aptly named Full Circle IPA out of reclaimed waste water. The product has a benevolent back story. Stone started making the brew during a California-wide drought when residents were urged to limit their water usage. The water is chemically treated, moreover, making the beer perfectly safe to drink.
Before you make the same claim about Brewmeister’s Snake Venom beer, you had better know your limitations as a beer drinker. The product’s alcohol content, at 67.5%, makes it the strongest beer on the planet — not the sort of suds to be swilled down mindlessly at a fraternity party. The product, which is deep amber in color, pours like a whiskey. There is no carbonation as a result of the high alcohol content.
Though technically not quite as lethal as Snake Venom, Colorado-based Twisted Pine Brewing Company’s Ghost Face Killa is no laughing matter. The beer is concocted using six of the hottest chili peppers, including ghost pepper, which at 1,041,427 Scoville units, is the spiciest pepper on earth. Heralded by one beer blogger as “the hottest beer this side of Hell,” Chost Face Killa needs to be approached and used with caution.