Beer and meat: is there a more glorious food and beverage combination? And who hasn’t enjoyed a meaty dinner partially flavored by beer, such as beer-battered fish, beer-can chicken or chili with a generous helping of beer added to the recipe? So why hasn’t the reverse been explored much — meat flavoring the beer?
There are exceptions, of course. Wynkoop has their bull testicle infused Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, but it’s more about the gimmicky concept of putting balls in beer than it is about actually enhancing the flavor (even though the beer itself tastes just fine, you’d never know there was a meat product in it if no one told you). Additionally, there’s the somewhat disastrous attempt by the typically brilliant Rogue Brewery to make a Bacon Maple Ale. Something that should have been a deliriously delicious beer-Frankenstein turned out to be a depressingly un-bacony bottle of gross.
What’s odd about this serious lack of carnivore-satisfying beers is there have been beverages that are extremely close to this flavor for centuries: Rauchbiers, the German smoked beers made with heavily smoked malts. One in particular, Aecht Schlenkerla Smoked Marzen tastes suspiciously like sausage over a campfire, yet contains no meat flavorings.
Although Rauchbiers seem to be very slowly catching on in the United States, they still seem to be a very niche style, unfortunately. But this could all change if the meat eaters of the world are thrown a proverbial bone…
Blue Jacket Brewery (http://bluejacketdc.com/) in Washington, DC has introduced a beer that is specifically designed to mimic the flavor of a local meat sandwich called the “Half Smoke”. And, coincidentally enough, this flavor is derived by smoking the malts and then spicing the beer with the same ingredients used to flavor the sandwich. The end result purportedly tastes almost identical to its fleshy counterpart.
Perhaps a zeitgeist is brewing: further hope exists for meat-flavored joy to hit the mainstream. In a recent episode of Brew Dogs, the eponymous brewers come to our home state of Colorado and created a beer (with the help of the great people at Oskar Blues) with malts actually coated in meat drippings from a barbecue smoker. Unfortunately, it was a one-off experiment for the show, but perhaps it’ll spark some ideas among the locals.
Yes, there is a small cult of brewers making bacon inspired beers, but a true hybrid of barbecue and beer has yet to fully sink its teeth into the public consciousness.
This must change, people! The pieces are in place. The time is now! Let’s make meat beer a glorious reality.