Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Sometimes, when it comes to beer, the question is not "how?" but "why?" Take, for instance, Sankt Gallen Brewery in the Kanagawa region of Japan. In the past they’ve been modestly known for flavored beers: sweet orange ale, pineapple ale, orange chocolate stout. As of this week, though, they are abruptly widely known (at least among beer news followers) for their Un, Kono Kuro, a coffee stout made with coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of an elephant.
Now, right about here is where I run into all sorts of problems. Let’s just bypass the question of whether this beer tastes good or not. The real question is this: Why on earth would you ever want to eat or drink anything that was excreted by an elephant?
Because I am entirely in favor of pushing the boundaries of human experience, I did try it, and to be honest, it's pretty darn good; the testicular character is very subdued, if present at all. Regardless, I remain skeptical about the entire realm of meat-infused beers, much less those infused with roasted bulls’ balls.
There is, however, a long and ultimately much less alarming tradition of making beer with odd ingredients. Undoubtedly, the first time a Belgian brewer put coriander and orange peel in a white ale some 400 years ago, some local skeptic looked at it and said, “Really? Coriander? Are you nuts?”
With that in mind, here five unusual-ingredient beers that really are worth searching for.
Dogfish Head Brewery - Sixty-One
Flying Dog - Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
Lazy Magnolia - Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale
Rogue - Chipotle Ale
Baladin - Nora
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