Thursday, 27 September 2018 12:18

The Year in Weird Beers

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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Those crazy creative brewers are at it again, ready to put it all on the line to push boundaries and move the craft beer scene into a new direction — just not always in expected ways. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger brews that have crossed the bar over the last few months. 

All that glitters… 

The sparkly new trend that took craft beer by storm this year had breweries dumping edible glitter into perfectly normal beers to create something that polarized the internet beer dorks. Reactions fell into two diametrically opposed camps: Either the glitter was the marketing ploy spawn of Satan or it was something to liven up the craft beer scene. Local brewers looking to shine included Thornapple Brewing Co. (Unicorn Umbrage), Brewery Vivant (Strawberry Glitter Sparkles and Glitter Stud), Perrin Brewing Co. (Gloss Bananas) and Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. (Shake That Blue Razz For Me). For all the hype and drama, perhaps Brewery Vivant summed it up best: “Independent small craft brewers are supposed to have fun with beer, right?” 

Blazin’ the HighPA

The toker-friendly folks at Lagunitas Brewing Co. teamed up with marijuana products company AbsoluteXtracts to produce the Hi-Fi Hops line of THC-infused, IPA-inspired sparkling waters. The new alcohol-free beverage is even diet friendly, clocking in at zero calories and zero carbs. Online publication Leafly said Hi-Fi Hops “tastes like a La Croix frolicked in a hop field.” The beverage, which comes in THC doses of 5 mg and 10 mg, is sold at recreational dispensaries at $8 per can. It’ll keep you elevated and hydrated at the same time. Sorry to harsh your mellow, Michigan: For now, Hi-Fi is only available in California. 

Hugs not drugs? 

While memories from childhood may be getting hazier by the day, most people born in the last 40 years will still remember Little Hug Fruit Barrels. The kids beverage was a staple of many childhoods, its 8-ounce barrel-like bottle enthralling Gen Xers and Millennials alike with its bounty of sugary fruit-flavored liquid. Little Hugs left such an impression on brewers at Pennsylvania-based Imprint Beer Co. that they decided to use the blue raspberry drink — some 800 bottles worth — as the only source of liquid in the brewing process for a special, one-off beer dubbed Little Hugs. The resulting “obnoxiously sweet” green-colored beer clocked in at 3.4 percent ABV with a slightly sour finish, according to Beer & Brewing Magazine. 

Fungus among us? 

When was the last time you sipped a beer and thought, this is good, but what would make it
better would be to add some fungus? Yeah, us neither. However, craft brewers have taken to using mushrooms in their beers — typically stouts — to give them a subtle earthy quality. Locally, City Built Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids has dabbled in fungal beers with Chaga Khan, a stout brewed with Chaga mushrooms. According to most industry reports, it’s not overpowering and musty, but rather done to enhance the local terroir or “taste of place” in beers. If that’s the case, the morel the merrier. — Reported by Joe Boomgaard

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