Strange Brews Outside the Hop Box

Many of us, if not all of us, have had that experience at the bar, that unexpected, frustrated feeling that nothing on the menu is going to fit the bill.  Sometimes the mainstream pilsners, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, etc. just don’t speak to our thirst.  There are those times when we want – need – something unique in a brew: marshmallow, graham cracker, bacon, maple syrup, tomato, cardamom, pinot gris…  Here are six beers that didn’t just step out of the box, they crashed through it and burnt it to the ground.              

Tap It Brewing Pi (4% ABV, 12 IBU)

Directly on the heels of Tap It Brewing’s incredible Café Noir comes Pi Golden Ale.  This golden ale seeks to become a hybrid of sorts, fermented at a low temperature with Belgian yeast from Antwerp in order to capture the characteristics of a lager.  The hint as to why this beer is so unique is right in the name: Pi.  Pi Golden Ale is based upon everyone’s favorite mathematical symbol, π.  The alcohol content is 3.14% by weight, which equals 4% by volume.  All specialty malts used to create Pi are based upon 3.14% or a multiplier of that percentage.  The hops are added exclusively in increments of 3.14 pounds.  Taking alpha acid into account as it changes the bitterness of a given hop, special attention is given to the times rather than the weights that Tap It adds the hops.  The mash temperature is determined using the following equation: π 2 x ABV2.  This golden ale delivers a slight sweetness with biscuit and bread notes up front and a dry, crisp, clean finish.

Tap It

Short’s Brewing Company Key Lime Pie (5.5% ABV, 21 IBU)

Brewer Joe Short founded Short’s Brewing Company in 2002 in Michigan.  Joe had a simple goal in mind: produce unique beers with top quality ingredients and answer to no one but those drinking his unusual creations.  A Gold Medal Winner (2010 Great American Beer Festival), Key Lime Pie is made with milk sugar, graham cracker, fresh limes…and marshmallow fluff.  Key Lime Pie is perfect for hot summer days, those with a sweet tooth and as a post-barbecue dessert.

Key Lime Pie

Rogue Ales Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale (5.6% ABV, 30 IBU)

Rogue Ales of Newport, OR has been making the world crazier and more enjoyable one mind-bending brew after another since the late ‘80s.  Voodoo Doughnut of Portland, OR has been doing the same with doughnuts since 2002 or 2003 (depending upon whom you ask).  What do these two have to with one another?  Rogue Ales teamed up with Voodoo Doughnut to collaborate on a bacon maple porter, sourcing applewood smoked bacon and maple syrup from the doughnut artisans.  Eleven other components, including Briess cherrywood smoked malt and Rogue Farms Revolution and Independent hops, bring the ingredient list to a fitting baker’s dozen.  Enjoy this porter with pork (of course) or doughnuts (obviously), as the sweetness is neatly balanced with the amazing flavor of smoked bacon.


Dogfish Head Noble Rot (9.0% ABV, 18 IBU)

Most people would likely agree that beer and wine are worlds apart from another.  Bearing that in mind, what could be more unique than finding a middle ground between these two worlds?  Dogfish Head of Delaware built a bridge between beer geeks and oenophiles with Noble Rot, a beer that features pils and wheat malts, a Belgian yeast strain and viognier and pinot gris must from grapes sourced by Alexandria Nicole Cellars of Prosser, Washington.  Expect a spicy white wine body and dry, tart finish that pairs well with crab and lobster or Gouda cheeses.  It’s up to you to decide whether to enjoy Noble Rot in a pint or wine glass.

Noble Rot

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer (4.7% ABV)

You probably think you know where I’m headed with this but I’m willing to bet that you’re wrong.  This isn’t a beer meant to simply go well with pizza (it does), it’s meant to taste like you’re eating a pizza.  Brewed for Pizza Beer Co. by Sprecher Brewing Co. of Wisconsin, Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer is an unfiltered American ale made with tomato, garlic, basil and oregano.  As if those ingredients aren’t interesting enough, part of the process when creating this beer includes steeping a whole wheat Margarita pizza in the mash.  Perhaps there is something better than cold pizza – a cold pizza beer.

Pizza Beer

Iron Fist Rubus Vigoratus (8% ABV)

Being different doesn’t always require unexpected ingredients and unusual brewing techniques.  Sometimes all it takes is sticking to one basic premise to deliver a fantastic product: exclusivity.  Iron Fist Brewing Company of Vista, CA brewed Rubus Vigoratus just ONE time for just ONE source, Holiday Wine Cellars.  It doesn’t get more one-of-a-kind than that.  This American double/imperial stout is based upon a version of a recipe created by brewer Chuck McLaughlin (Fallbrook Brewing Company, Fallbrook, CA) and features cardamom and raspberries.  Black in appearance with berry, cardamom, roasted malt and spice on the palate.  Grab a few for yourself at before they’re all gone!  I ordered two myself.

Iron Fist


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