“The only thing that can make beer even better is the knowledge that a living creature died so I can drink it.”
~American Beer Drinkers
Beer is wonderful. We love beer. You love beer. Everyone loves beer. Well, except for Sharon, but seriously, Sharon is the worst. Like, every time she opens her mouth, just, ugh. Sharon. Fuck Sharon. But horray beer (Horray beer!) As a nation, America spends an obscene-yet-appropriate amount of time, money, and effort into making new, exciting, and dangerously alcoholic beers for us to punish our livers with. If we spent the energy we exert on beer innovation on, say, space travel, we probably would have settled colonies on dozens of planets by now. But are planets delicious, refreshing, and able to get you absolutely trashed? No, of course they can’t, they’re just stupid hunks of rock. They’re practically the opposite of beer, so why should we give them the time of day? That’s right, we shouldn’t, we’ve got a new session beer to try. We’ve got our priorities straight, is what we’re trying to say.
Seeing as the beer brewing business favors the bold and encourages risk taking, as well as being largely stocked with red-blooded American heroes, it should come as no surprise that there are a dearth of beers that include honest-to-God animal parts in the brewing process. Because we like our beer like we like our women: swirling in a vat surrounded by chunks of creatures that once had a fully functioning nervous system. Um, wait. Let’s try that again…
Meatbeer: 12 Beers Brewed With Animal Meat
On November 30th, 1487, Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria announced the Reinheitsgebot, or “Bavarian Purity Law.” It declared that beer can only be made using water, barley, and hops. Not surprisingly, this 500 year old law now comes off as quaintly outdated, considering you have German breweries tossing some weed in their beers just fucking because. We know that hops, barley, yeast and water are essential ingredients to make sure beer has proper “wreck your shit” alcoholic properties, but there are thousands of delicious and exciting beers that dare questions like, “Beer is good, but how would it taste if we tossed a banana in there?” And of those thousands of beer, a few dozen decide to go with the “once living animals” route of beer addition to create a genre of beers that we will from here on out refer to as “Meatbeer” (copyright pending).
But before we delve into the diverse ocean that is beers brewed with animal meat, we have to mention one beer that was disqualified from the ranks of Meatbeers, with prejudice.
DISHONORABLE MENTION- Sankt Gallen Brewery: Un, Kono Kuro (Elephant Poop)
Chances are, regular readers of this site have already guessed what we have to say about this before we even tell you what country decided to make a beer using coffee beans that were pooped out by elephants, but, once again, goddamn it Japan you’re doing it wrong! Sankt Gallen Brewery’s Un, Kono Kuro doesn’t count as Meatbeer since it wasn’t brewed with any meat, but it also doesn’t count as Meatbeer because it’s fucking insane and involves putting poop in your fucking beer. Poop. In your beer. Well, fine, technically it’s partially-digested coffee beans carefully picked out of elephant poop, but you get the point. We’re not sure what we’re more disappointed about, the fact that this beer sold out in Japan in less than a day, or that it’s not the only beer that uses “coffee beans pooped out by an animal” as an ingredient. For shame, Japan. For shame.
God, that entry left a bad taste in our mouth (pun intended). Let’s move on and get onto the actual Meatbeers. And what better way to start than a beer with a name that makes us giggle like schoolgirls, because, heh, cock.
Willimantic Brewing Company: “Hand Pulled” Cock Ale (A Whole Goddamn Chicken) (Heh, Cock)
Heh, heh. Cock ale. Heh. Hand pulled. Heh.
But seriously, apart from being a questionable Google images search term, cock ales (heh heh we seriously will never stop giggling at that name, judge us if you must) were arguably the first beers to be brewed using dead animals, gaining popularity in England during the 17th and 18th centuries. There are many printed recipes for cock ales dating as far back as 1669, each with hilarious instructions like “take a Cock and boil him well.” Cock ales (tee hee) historically incorporate a full chicken (mashed up to break all the bones), raisins, and a variety of spices. While there are no available commercial cock ales (heh) out on the market (Willimantic Brewing Company in Connecticut is the closest we can find since they at the very least have been known to offer their version of a cock ale before) it’s apparently a very popular recipe among home brewers that also might be serial killers. You know, what with that whole “taking a whole chicken and breaking every one of its bones before tossing it into a vat of fermenting beer” thing.
Either way, even if it might be next to impossible to find, if you come away from this article learning one thing, let it be that cock ales are an actual kind of beer that’s been around for hundreds of years, and also, tee hee, we said cock. Heh heh.
Brugghús Steðja: Hvalur Þorrabjór Steðja (Whale Bones and Meat)
When it was announced that a the Icelandic brewery Steðji (incorrectly referred to as “Steojar” by just about every hand-wringing article covering the story) was brewing a beer with whale meat and ground up whale bone for Þorrablót, which is either a midwinter Icelandic festival or a series of wingdings, the internet just about lost their shit. “Whales are gentle creatures and intelligent and wah wah,” conservation groups said, and the backlash was enough to get the drink banned by West Iceland Health Authorities who decided that the (1 kg per 2000 liters of beer) whale remains did not meet (pun intended) the food regulations of the country. Shortly thereafter, the ban was overturned and this limited edition beer currently is being sold within the nation of Iceland. Here’s a video of someone drinking it.
It’s pretty unlikely that we’ll be seeing this in America any time soon (what with procuring whale meat being hella illegal here) but hey, you gotta love something whose mere existence makes vegans mad enough to rip a leaf off a tree or whatever the fuck their equivalent of a “homicidal rage” is. Hah,vegans are the worst. They’re almost as bad as Sharon. Sharon.
Uncommon Brewers: Bacon Brown Ale (Bacon)
Rogue Ales: Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale (Bacon)
Brooklyn Brewery: Reinschweinsgebot (Bacon)
It’s fairly common to find a beer brewed with bacon as a limited or one-time offerings by various nanobreweries throughout America, because it’s 2014 and people have been writing articles about how “the bacon craze will end any minute now” for the past three goddamn years. In fact, we’ve even talked about the Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale and the Reinschweinsgebot in previous articles, because of course if you put bacon in a beer you’re going to have a website whose banner has a grizzly bear holding a shotgun in front of an American flag take some fucking notice. The beautiful thing about bacon beer is that it’s the least fucking necessary thing you could do to a beer—most smoked beers and Rauchbiers, which use malted barley dried over an open flame, have a spicy, meaty taste that actually can taste more like bacon than many beers that actually put bacon in the wort. The only reason anyone really makes a bacon Meatbeer is so they can unveil it and say, “Look, this beer has bacon in it, you won’t care how it tastes you bastards are going to drink it no matter how it tastes because it’s beer and it’s bacon and it’s oink oink oink soo-WEE soo-WEE drink your swill fatties!”
Are we going to bemoan the fact that brewing beer with bacon is arguably just a complete waste of bacon? Hell no! Something died for your beer, dammit, embrace your position on the top of this planet’s food chain. It’s the American thing to do.
Dozens of Oyster Stouts (Oysters)
Most craft beer drinkers don’t even blink at stouts that are brewed with oysters, a practice that’s likely been around since 1929, because you can find oyster stouts at pretty much any liquor store with a decent beer selection. Breweries such as Flying Dog, Three Floyds, and Harpoon are among the dozens of reputable and respected microbreweries that use oysters and their shells to make a smooth, slightly sweet stout. We’ve all been to enough Guinness and oyster events to know that the two go make pretty comfortable bedfellows, and while you might encounter a fair amount of people who say, “Wait, so there’s actually oysters in this? Huh, I thought it was just a name,” it’s really nothing much to brag about as far as “exotic, unusual beers” go. Of course, they are delicious, and they do take living creatures and huck them into a frothing maw of stewing grains and hops, so they warrant a spot on this list, even if they’re not going to shock anyone as much as, say, the similarly named, but completely different ingredient of…
Wynkoop Brewing Company: Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (Bull Testicles)
We’ve covered this one before, but you can’t just brew a beer with the severed balls of a bull and expect us to accept it and move on to the next topic. It’s testicles! In beer! Terrifyingly large and veiny testicles. In beer. It all started in 2012 when the Colorado brewpub Wynkoop posted a video on YouTube announcing the release a stout with Rocky Mountain Oysters on April 1st of that year because obviously it was an April Fools’ joke. The head of the brewery gathered his employees and said, “So, I was thinking, why don’t we do an April Fools’ prank to drum up some free publicity? Hell, Google does joke videos every year, and look at how successful they are! Anyway, since we’re in Colorado, what if we said that, instead of a regular old oyster stout, we’d make one with Rocky Mountain oysters. Get it? Ha, I’m sure everyone will have a good laugh about that.”
Because we don’t live in a sane or rational society, the responses to the video were split between, “Oh, good April Fools’ joke, you guys got me” and “I can’t wait to try it!” So many people clamored for this joke product that they eventually tossed up their hands in defeat and said, “Jesus Christ, fine, we’ll put bull testicles into the beer, you goddamn lunatics, are you happy now? Look what you made us do.”
The beer has strong notes of malt, chocolate, and molasses while users have, with a completely straight face, pointed out that it has “a subtle saltiness” to go along with “a hint of nuttiness.” Okay folks, that’s it. Society, you’re going on timeout for a little bit. Shut it down. Shut it all down. Sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.
Conwy Brewery: The Sunday Toast (Juices From Slow-Roasted Lamb)
In order to properly celebrate Saint David’s Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Wales, on March 1st this year, Conwy Brewery decided to make a Victorian-style Porter with the juices from a slow-roasted lamb. We can sort of piece together the logic behind this decision—it’s for a feast day, and the pastoral lamb has importance in Christianity, and apparently the addition of the lamb juice makes the beer actually smell like a Sunday roast. We would probably prefer the beer to be brewed with actual lamb meat, if for no other reason than “lamb juice” as an abstract concept sounds terrifying and disgusting, but hey, we’re not here to judge the Welsh company squeezing the liquid out of a roasting baby sheep to put in their alcohol specially brewed for a religious holiday, we’re just here to spread their gospel.
Samuel Adams: Burke In The Bottle (Beef Heart)
If we learned anything from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom it’s that the only way to gain the strength of your enemies is to eat their heart (or rip it out of their chest or something, it’s honestly been a while since we’ve seen the movie). Samuel Adams took that lesson to heart (ha, puns) when they collaborated with celebrity chef David Burke for a special beer only to be served in Burke’s restaurants that was brewed using sliced beef heart. They essentially made a version of Sam Adams’ Oktoberfest where they added beef hearts that had been grilled and sliced by Burke to the wort at the end of the brewing process, leaving a slightly mineral and salty aftertaste.
The announcement of this beer (which, keep in mind, was never available for sale commercially outside of a handful of restaurants) caused a small flourish of protests from vegetarian groups, including a change.org petition with 800 supporters because internet. As for us? We clearly support putting the hearts of innocent cows into beer, especially since the aftertaste of the beer tastes a little strange when not paired with beer, meaning that this is a beer that encourages you to eat meat while drinking meat. Our only issue is that since it came out in 2010, we can’t find any press release for it referring to the beer as “hearty,” “bloody good,” or any other obnoxious heart-related pun. Missed opportunity, Sam Adams. You’re breaking our hearts (yesss). We were so pumped (boom) to squeeze (we’ll take it) some life (okay we’re pushing it a little here) out of puns for this beer. Instead we had to be the ones to bleed that dry (okay we’re done now).
Right Brain Brewery: Mangalista Pig Porter (Pig head and bones)
Earth Eagle Brewings: Porter Cochon (Smoked Pig Head)
We’ve never really done this before but we’re about at the point in this article where we feel that we have to include a completely different lead quotation, so just humor us for a second.
“Honestly, what’s the point of making beer if you can’t cram a severed head into a bubbling cauldron?”
~Fucking Psychopaths, Holy Shit
Earth Eagle Brewings is a brew pub in New Hampshire whose founders actually posted a story about making a cock ale (heh) on their website. Right Brain Brewery is a Michigan brewery that apparently got its name from a bad high school creative writing teacher. What do these two establishments have in common? Well, they both looked into the empty, lifeless eyes of a decapitated pig and thought, “You know what, We should totally chuck this vile thing into this porter we’re brewing right now.” Then the visions they were speaking to opened their mouths and let out a howl that encapsulated all of the agony, sadness, and disappointment in the world in one single, horrible, never-wavering note, and when everyone came out of their fever dream, their warehouse was filled with a pig’s head porter and dozens of headless swine corpses.
Earth Eagle Brewings sells themselves as makers of old and rare beers, as seen by their devotion to brewing gruit (hop-less ales), which is why they previously have featured the Porter Cochon, a beer that took green bullet hops, lavender and, of course, four smoked pig heads from pigs that grew up eating spent grains from the brewery, which implies that the brewers had a somewhat personal relationship with these pigs, which kind of makes us uncomfortable. The only thing that would be more unsettling about how specific that description is would be if they listed the names of all the pigs that had been killed to make that beer (because you know that these guys named the pigs). “Starting in January, we will be offering a batch of Porter Cochon that was made due to the sacrifice of Twisty, Wiggles, Lord Oinkington Esquire, and Lester. They were a close knit group of friends who never stopped believing in the power of whimsy. Each bottle’s label will be a picture of the four of them as piglets playing in the mud. You did this. Look at what you made us do, you monsters.” Then everyone just starts sobbing.
Less distressing (ha ha, just kidding it’s even worse because they put bones in it too because we’re pretty sure they’re just trying to make their brewery haunted) is Right Brain’s Mangalista Pig Porter which apparently won a Gold Medal at a beer competition (the competition was also haunted) and can only be purchased once a year during an event which, holy shit, is happening in a few days hurry guys we have to go to Michigan and buy the pig head and bones beer and feel guilty every time we watch Babe: Pig In The City! They don’t really explain why the bones are a necessary part of this whole thing, since they don’t even care about the pig parts in the brewing process ever since they won an award for the fucking thing. They can shrug off any criticism like an actor that wins an Oscar and starts taking awful parts in embarrassing movies. “Listen, if Halle Berry doesn’t have to explain Catwoman, we don’t have to explain why we brewed a beer with a pig head and bones. Scoreboard, bitches!”
That said, we’d still drink both the beers, just to piss off vegans. And Sharon.
Dock Street Brewing Company: Dock Street Walker (Goat Brains)
The Walking Dead can pretty much get away with anything at this point. They’ve killed off beloved characters, spent almost an entire season doing nothing in a boring farm, and have fired not one but two showrunners, and they still get more people tuning in each week than Sunday Night Football. So nice try, Philadelphia’s Dock Street Brewing Company, but even if you make an American Pale Stout with smoked goat brains for a viewing of The Walking Dead’s season finale it’s not going to make anyone clamor for the show to get cancelled. Actually, there wasn’t any backlash towards this beer at all from any animal rights groups, and most reviewers of the beer actually liked it. This is either a sign that The Walking Dead is unstoppable and who are we to try to stop their inevitable domination of every aspect of our nation’s culture, or that once we reached a point where people could casually toss pig heads into beer and get gold medals for their efforts that vegetarians protesting a beer for putting cooked beef heart in a beer in comparison starts to look adorably quaint. Or, most likely, we’ve finally discovered a glitch in the vegans software, and when they read “goat brains” and “beer” in the same sentence it causes their systems to reboot and they hunt down the nearest cow and begin devouring it live like a goddamn Chupacabra.
No one knows for sure, all we know is that America is clearly at a crossroads. As time goes by, Meatbeers will become increasingly common and popular, and microbreweries will have to come up with increasingly insane animal parts to separate themselves from the fold. A T-bone steak-brewed ale? You’ll have to do better than that! A beer made with horse meat? Bring it on! A lambs-eye stout? We don’t even care anymore we’ve stopped feeling so long ago all that is left is a void that we fill with alcohol!
This is the new world order, America. So grab yourself a Meatbeer when you’re next presented with the opportunity and enjoy it with a protein-rich buzz at least.