The session. Once a month beer bloggers from around the world take five minutes to all discuss a particular topic. This month, the topic is novelty beers. It was suggested by this months host, Tiffany from 99 Pours. The following quote sums up the brief for this month:

“What novelty beer comes to mind when you think: Is this beer just to strange to stay around? Why in the world would they choose ingredients most beer drinkers have never heard of …what the heck is a qatar fruit? If it’s okay for beer to taste like tea or coffee, why not pizza? If wild yeasts are allowed to ferment beer, then why not beard yeast? If oysters, why not bacon? If pumpkin’s good enough for pie, why not beer? Since hops are flowers, why not brew with actual flowers?”

OK, lets address these points from the beginning and see where this takes me. What comes to mind when I think of novelty beers? Well mostly its the beers which have got strange ingredients which come to mind the most, although it’s not a completely bizarre ingredient in beer I find that the ginger in Badgers Blandford Flyer makes for a beer which is quite novel, and repeatedly I keep coming back to this beer in my trail of thought. Ever since I first tried this beer I have loved it, especially on a hot day. I must admit that I was first drawn to it by the idea of the added ginger and the story that goes with why they add it (apparently their is a fly which has a tendency to bite fishermen in the area around the Blandford River and the ginger helps to repel the fly).

On the other end of the spectrum of novel ingredients, things which really are out there, I can only think of  BrewDog’s Never mind the anabolics. This is a beer which contains several ingredients which are banned by the powers that be in the professional sporting world for their performance enhancing qualities, although this is quite obviously still legal for us mere mortals to drink. These ingredients include creatine, guarana, ginseng, gingo, maca powder, matcha tea and kola nut, most of these things I have never heard of. This is a beer which I most certainly want to try, not so much because of its performance enhancing ingredients, but because with such a long list of different additions to the beer its surely not going to taste like their regular IPA and I’m all for trying something new and different.

As for some of the other questions asked, my response is why not indeed? We should have more innovative beers in the world, without innovation we would stand still and things would just get boring. I say yes to pizza beer (I assume you mean this one?). I say yes to yeast which has come from odd sources, if it’s yeast, then why not, it all does the same thing. Just as long as you have got rid of the beard, I draw the line there. I say yes to flowers and I definitely say yes to bacon (infact I say yes to bacon on nearly a daily basis). A quick Google showed me that at least two brewery’s, Goose Island and Uncommon Brewers, have both made a beer at some point which has bacon in. I really want to try these, as long as they actually tastes like bacon, unlike the bacon bubblegum which I was given the other day, which was wrank.

I think that a brewer should be allowed to experiment. Of course while many of the outcomes may be a success and they may taste really nice, they probably won’t have the same drinkability that our palettes are used to. I know, for example, that Blandford Flyer is a great pint, but I couldn’t drink more than one or two of them in a night, the taste is just not what you expect from a beer, and while its enjoyable, at the end of the day we all just want a no nonsense pint.

Really what I am trying to say is that we, as beer lovers, like variety, if all the beers in the world were the same it would get boring very quickly, and we’d all just buy the same cans from the same place and that would be that. So we want the mad dog ideas along with all the standards to throw something different into the mix.  But at the same time while a different, life-changing, innovative and experimental beer can be wonderful, and I truly hope that the idea of trying new things never goes away, as a general rule they are fascinating to try but are not necessarily a beer which will win the hearts and souls of a generation. They lack the Je ne sais quoi of our regular session beers, our IPAs and our lagers, milds and porters. Brewers probably know this and is why novelty beers are usually in small batches, or just limited edition runs of bottles and rarely make it to the big outlets, although, saying that I did see Banana Beer in Tesco the other day, so what do I know?