The Weirdest Beer I’ve Had That Didn’t Suck

I’m writing an article for the Today Show about Mamma Mia Pizza Beer, an ale brewed with tomatoes and pizza spices.  While it’s certainly a gimmick, it’s also a wonderfully weird brew.

I’m saving my full review for later, but I’ll clue in on how it ends – the beer didn’t suck.  And it got me to thinking – what’s the weirdest beer I’ve had that managed to be truly unusual AND actually worth drinking?I guess I could look to a number of Dogfish Head brews – Theobroma, Tweason’Ale, Noble Rot – as those folks like to add a twist to everything they do.

Then there’s Unita’s Labyrinth Black Ale, which is a bit salty and brewed with licorice (and is also fantastic).

I haven’t had Rogue’s pink-bottled Voodoo Donut Bacon Maple ale, mostly because I’m kind of done with them, but it certainly looks weird (and like a cry for attention).

Beyond these, I’m sure there’s a million gallons of funktastic homebrew out there made with lawn clippings and roadkill and chocolate covered cherries and turkey pot pie, etc., but I haven’t had any of those.

No, I think Mamma Mia Pizza Beer takes the cake on this one, which clearly tell me one thing: I’m not trying hard enough.

How about you – what’s the weirdest beer (pro- or homebrewed) you’ve had that was actually pretty tasty?




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39 Comments on “The Weirdest Beer I’ve Had That Didn’t Suck”

  1. October 3, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    The Voodoo Maple Bacon Donut beer was not enjoyable at all. My friends and I were skeptical but curious, so we decided to split a bottle among 9 of us. It was just enough for a true taste, and if we had any larger a serving it would have likely gone to waste. It was worth trying to see what it was like, but is nothing I would ever consider trying again.

    I couldn’t tell you what my favorite “weird” beer was, as I’ve had so many over the *mumble* years I’ve been enjoying craft beer. Midas Touch would be up there (never would have thought to use saffron in beer). But I consider many of the weird beers to be somewhat normal now. We’ve strayed quite far from the pure use of malt, hops, yeast and water. There’s a nice variety out there, even though I do like the “simpler” beers (standard IPAs, browns, porters, etc.) for regular enjoyment and reserve the weirdos for occasional tasting.

    That said, I just brewed an Aztec chocolate stout (double chocolate stout with cinnamon and cayenne), which I’m looking forward to enjoying over the winter.

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      I’m glad that you don’t have one up your sleeve that tops the Mamma Mia Pizza Beer, Bill. While it seems like a lowbrow idea (folks love pizza and beer – lets mash ’em up!), it’s still a bit of a crazy concept for a beer, especially one that’s pretty good.

      • October 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

        When I saw that announced, I wanted to try it. I haven’t had an opportunity to nab one for myself yet. I still want to try it!

  2. October 3, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    No contest here Jim, its FD’s Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout. When I heard that it actually contained oysters (as opposed to be being brewed to drink w/ oysters), I thought it would have to taste like carbonated clam juice. But a couple of volunteer docents from FD convinced me to try it and I really like the stuff. Great body, good head, and at 5.5% abv its not the least bit wimpy.

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      I’m gonna start a drinking game where folks have to chug a beer every time you mention that Oyster Stout, Wayne! That stuff has you under its spell!! I’ve been looking for it, but haven’t seen it yet.

      • October 4, 2012 at 10:58 am #

        Yeah, I’ll try to tone it down in future, but it had two things going for it right from the start: 1) its local; and 2) its a stout (and I can’t recall ever meeting a stout I didn’t like at least a little bit.)

        In that last vein, I’m still in search of that elusive Oatmeal Stout that will truly satisfy my palate–its gotta be dark, chewy as a Tootsieroll, turn over like a Guiness at pour, maintain its head and have an abv of about 5-6% (wouldn’t mind some chocolate malts in the mix either.) I keep looking but nothing so far.

  3. October 3, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Wynkoop released this video as an April Fools’ joke earlier this year:

    But now they are actually brewing up a batch for GABF, and I actually want to try it.

    The weirdest beer I’ve ever had that I liked was Reinaert Flemish Wild Ale. I described it to my friends as horse manure aroma in liquid form.

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Loved that video when it came out. A beer with balls!

      On the wild ale front, it’s always funny when you like something that others find repellent. I love salty dutch licorice, and it makes others gag.

  4. October 3, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Hi Jim,

    That’s an easy one for me: Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra. Think Thai Coconut Curry Beer. I was lucky enough to have a pint of at their brewery and it was equal parts outrageous and wonderful. I snuck a bomber back to split with G-Lo (@boozedancing) and his impressions were similar to mine, though a bit more muted.

    As for Rogue’s Voodoo – you probably need to sample it for research purposes but I wouldn’t pull something else out of the cart to make room. Very underwhelming and far too cloyingly sweet. Virtually no bacon or smoke. And yes, I may be done with them now too thanks to their threatened “beard yeast brew”. Splash…..that was the reentry of a ceremonial Rogue bomber after having jumped the shark.


    • October 3, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks they jumped the shark.

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      The Thai Coconut Curry beer sounds like something I’d enjoy, especially if it was dark and heavy.

      I’m not going to try the Rogue Voodoo thingy – I’ve read that it’s not good and it seems like more of an attention grabber than a worthwhile purchase.

      • dplittle
        October 4, 2012 at 8:38 am #

        I’ve heard the same about Rogue Voodoo Jim but I might have to try it just the same. If for no other reason than to compare it to a beer my local, Moon River Brewing in Savannah, creates from time to time. They have a cask that comes around every now and then called “Little Chocolate Donuts.” They take their Captain’s Porter (close to a sweet stout) and “dry donut” it in a cask. The beer tastes just like a chocolate covered glazed donut from Krispy Kreme. They don’t actually soak donuts in the beer but it sure does taste like a late night run to the donut shop.

        • October 4, 2012 at 9:54 am #

          Voodoo is worth trying for the sake of trying it. There were mixed reviews among the 9 of us who tried it (all from the same bottle, so that tells you something about the complexity of the beer). Some said it was too sweet, some said it was salty, some that there’s no maple, some that there’s no smoke, some that it’s overwhelmingly smokey… And we are all fairly big beer geeks.

          Here was my take on it: It was sweet but not overbearing. There was slight maple and salty fat on the nose, but the beer was smooth, not terribly thick, and lightly carbonated. There was a breadiness there, but it was lost in a tinge of sour on the finish. I did not taste any maple at all. There was light smoke as well, though nothing noteworthy in my opinion. The residual mouth feel and flavor was awful. Cloying from a mishmash of poorly married flavors, filmy, and a lingering essence of some kind of funked swamp water. Since we split a bomber 9 ways, I was happy to have only a couple of ounces and be done with it.

    • October 3, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Ha! As soon as I saw the title I had a feeling that you’d be responding to this one. Agreed. Indra Kunindra was totally weird and totally wonderful. Great stuff! And thanks again for sharing it.

  5. October 3, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Strange Brewing here in Denver has a beer called Zora which has rosemary, agave nectar, and oatmeal which is actually fairly good, at least for one pint. You know me and how I hate flavored beers, but this wasn’t too bad, especially with plenty of Zythos hops rounding out the flavor. It will never be a regular beer for me when I go in, but like I said, okay for a single draught.

    You can taste it if you’re going to GABF, I ran into one of their servers this weekend and she told me that they’ll have it on tap there.

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      I’m not going to make it out this year, unfortunately – the house needs work and my wife wants her bathroom floor redone instead of her husband in Denver drinking beer for a long weekend. Go figure – women!

      Zora sounds like a strange brew indeed, one you have to taste to really wrap your head around.

      Double bummed. 😦

  6. Richard
    October 3, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Jim, care to elaborate on your Rogue comments?

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:28 am #

      Sure, Richard.

      When I was first getting into craft beer year ago, Rogue was a godsend. Dead Guy was delish, and they made a whole host of beers that looked interesting and were easy to find in New Jersey. But as I tried them, I grew weary of the sameness of all their beers – they use their proprietary Pac Man yeast for many of their beers, and it give them a familial flavor. Then I got a couple of infected bottles from them and decided I was done trying to fall in love with their stuff – there are many other fish in the sea that make better beers (in my opinion).

      I have nothing against Rogue – I think they’re a great gateway brewery – but I no longer have any interest in their beers.

      As far as the “cry for help” comment, I feel (with no data or inside info to back it up) that the craft beer market is passing them by, and that screaming pink bottle filled with donuts and maple syrup and bacon is them screaming for attention in a market that they used to dominate. Again, only my uniformed speculation based upon my personal opinion of the brewery, but there it is.

  7. October 3, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I went to the Great Lakes Brew Fest and found Woodman Brewery out of Woodman, Wisconsin. They have a mushroom wheat beer that is brewed with (if I remember correctly) porcini and morel mushrooms. The first taste is tart and earthy but developed into a very pleasant strawberry after taste. Sadly it does not look like they bottle this beer and will have to make the 6 hour drive if I want to try it again. Best weird beer I have ever tried!

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      I like earthy brews, and I bet mushrooms add an interesting dimension to the beer.

      • dplittle
        October 4, 2012 at 8:29 am #

        The Bruery in Southern California released a small batch beer called “Salt of the Earth.” It was a gose (coriander and salt flavored sour mashed beer) that used truffle scented salt as an ingredient. I’m a big fan of gose beers but the truffle was just a little too much for me. It was “earthy” for sure.

  8. LPV
    October 3, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I recently made my way up to Vancouver, BC and tried Parallel 49 brewing’s Seedspitter watermelon witbier. It has a cloudy, slightly neon, yellowish color. The appearance is kind of off putting (as is the smell) so I thought the watermelon would either be very artificial tasting (like in candy or girly drinks) or really subdued – but just “off” altogether.
    It actually had a nice hit of watermelon, and a real watermelon at that. It’s pretty light so beyond watermelon there’s a little spice and just a clean, wheat flavor. I know a lot of people complain of a strange aftertaste but I didn’t get that.
    Overall, It really is a nice and refreshing summer beer. I don’t think I’d count it among my favorites but I’m glad I tried it and can safely say it’s not bad (IMO)

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      Sounds like it’s a polarizing brew, kind of like Hell or High Watermelon, a beer that makes my brother nuts!

  9. October 3, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Favorite weird beer of 2012: Renegade Brewing Co. Banana Split: an imperial hefeweizen with cocoa nibbs

    • October 3, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      That sounds like a smart combo there. Another beer I won’t be drinking when I don’t attend GABF!

  10. October 3, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Hi Jim,
    Weird, or should I, as a native German used to the “Reinheitsgebot”, say horrible, what some brewers resort to when brewing beer. I sometimes think it’s not the wish to brew a tastier beer, but just the wish to be be different at all costs, maybe caused by marketing reasons. I recently tried Shiner’s “Prickly Pear” [] and wasn’t too much enamoured with that.
    Take care, and have a good one,
    P.S.: I’m awaiting your full review, though.

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      I agree that some people use weird ingredients to crate what I call “stunt beers” in order to draw attention and make some money. I was suspicious of Mamma Mia for just that reason (it’s the pet rock of beers) but it was actually a real (weird) beer. I wouldn’t have written about them if it wasn’t a decent beverage.

  11. Brett
    October 3, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    There’s a bar in New Haven, CT called BAR that has their own brew pub in a separate room called Bru Rm. (easy enough names to remember), and they were pouring samples at a CT-only brewfest in Hartford awhile back. They had a jalapeno ale, which was your standard light yellow beer that just made your mouth burn afterwards, and they had a garlic amber ale, which had a really nice malty flavor up front, and then an aftertaste of pure garlic, which was really offputting at first, but once he explained that people like to have it with pizza, it really made sense to me and I ended up having another.

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Both sound more like cooking beers than drinking beers…

  12. October 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Most of the beers I’ve tried have already been mentioned. I’m one of the weird ones who didn’t think Voodoo was all that bad. Regardless, a beer that sticks out in my mind is the sour cherry special release I had from Flying Dog. It’s not really all that out there, but it was probably one of the most sour fruit beers I’ve ever had, and I don’t like sour beers all that much or fruit beers either.

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Yeah, gym-sock-flavored beers (which is how I refer to sours) don’t really do it for me either, but every now and then there’s one that I love, like New Glarus Enigma.

  13. October 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Shorts Brewing in Northern Michigan is one of those breweries that makes a number of those kinds weird beers that are actually really good. Two of my favorites are Key Lime Pie and Carrot Cake. They taste very much like their namesake but are so well made that it just works. They just came out with a Bloody Mary Beer that I’m really interested in trying.

    You should try to get your hands on some when you get back to the Mitten. They just open some operations in Wixom so they probably have a decent distribution in the Detroit area now.

    • October 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      I’ll keep an eye out next time I’m below the thumb in Royal Oak. Last time I was there, my mom wasn’t well and I didn’t get a chance to try anything. Or sleep.

  14. October 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    The weirdest beer I’ve ever had was Dogfish Head’s Chicha – the one brewed with Peruvian corn, chewed up and spit out by DFH employees, and strawberries (and whatever else is in it). It was only served on tap at their brewpub in Delaware so few people will likely try it, but rest assured, it tasted disgusting – even with a very open mind. Therefore, this comment is kind of pointless!

  15. Brian
    October 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    When I used to live in New Mexico I tried the next door neighbor’s green chili home brew. I didn’t hate it and that was before I was really into craft beer, so I guess it didn’t suck.

  16. October 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I’ve had DFH Midas Touch which was pretty good. A friend and I saw Bison Organic Honey Basil from Bison Brewing Co. at a tasting. I passed but he tried it, after which he said he would “never brew anything with basil in it.”

    • dplittle
      October 4, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      I disagree with your friend about basil. Perhaps he thought it was just too much. I regularly brew an oatmeal pale ale that, if the basil plants are in bloom at the right time, get “dry-hopped” with the tops of the basil plant. Just the tips with the delicate white flowers. I love this beer and it has won a couple awards.

  17. wendy littlefield
    October 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    We need to submit Lambrucha – lambic and kombucha the mystic marriage of 2 wild yeast strains. Have you tasted yet?

  18. DanR
    October 4, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Last year I had the Smoked Bacon beer at Watch City Brewing in Waltham, MA. Their beers are pretty terrible overall, and this one was a cask aged smoked brown ale, aged with bacon and rosemary in a cask.
    I agree with the one reviwer, terrible overwhelming rosemary and smoke, I didn’t taste bacon and did not finish the 10oz pour, took two sips and ordered another beer. Only been to Watch City once, they can’t even brew good normal beers, but this was perhaps the strangest and worst beer I have ever had.

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