It seems like every few weeks there’s a new “stunt beer” on the market. You know the ones — beers made with Sour Patch Kids, Peeps, or coffee beans passed through the digestive systems of civets. There’s a big reason breweries release these over-the-top brews. In a market saturated by more than 7,000 craft breweries, it’s a slick way to get free media coverage.
The hope is that maybe drinkers will grab a birthday cake-flavored milkshake IPA on a lark, then decide to stick around to try some of the brewery’s other offerings. And though many of these beers are downright awful and are clearly gimmicks created to entice click-hungry editors, many are actually… not utter trash.
Check out some of our favorite recent stunt beers below.
Smart Mouth Saturday Morning
If you’re an adult with responsibilities, there’s probably a secret part of you that misses the simple pleasure of Saturday morning cartoons. And back in the day, when sugar still ruled, Fruity Pebbles, Captain Crunch, or Lucky Charms were part of your weekly routine. That nostalgia-junk food-cereal overlap is the target Smart Mouth Brewing Co. in Norfolk, Virginia was trying to hit when they brewed a beer with toasted marshmallows like the ones in our favorite leprechaun-adorned cereal.
If you told us that they made a beer using toasted marshmallows, we’d assume it was a stout. But this one is an IPA and for some magical reason it really works (luck of the Irish?). This 6.6 percent ABV brew starts with the sweet, caramel flavor of the freeze-dried marshmallows, but that leads into citrus and floral notes from initial hopping and then dry-hopping.
A can of this truly is the adult version of a Saturday spent watching Thundercats or Spongebob Squarepants with a bowl of cereal on your lap.
French’s Mustard Beer
National Mustard Day was August 1st. To celebrate this obviously momentous holiday, well-known mustard brand French’s collaborated with Colorado’s Oskar Blues to create a limited-edition mustard beer. Yes, you read that right. It’s literally called French’s Mustard Beer and it was brewed with the brand’s Classic Yellow Mustard.
If you get to try this beer, keep an open mind. This tropical wheat beer, while being made with mustard, also contains key lime, lemon, tangerine, and passion fruit flavors. The first sip is all mustard. Almost as if you squirted mustard into a wheat beer and stirred it up. But somehow, once you get used to the initial tang, it’s really drinkable and well-rounded — with the citrus and tropical fruit flavors rising to the forefront.
Pair it with a mustard-slathered hot dog for a truly meta experience.
Sheetz Hop Dog
If you don’t know what Sheetz is, you probably don’t live in Pennsylvania or haven’t driven through the state. There are 128 Sheetz stores in the Keystone State. Earlier this summer, WaWa’s biggest rival decided to collaborate with Neshaminy Creek Brewing to create a hot dog beer. And we’re not saying that this is just a beer to be paired with a grilled tube of meat — it was “ceremonial”-brewed with hot dogs from the store.
This 5.5 percent IPA might have been made with hot dogs, but it doesn’t taste a thing like old hot dog water. That’s because, while there are hot dogs in the recipe, it was also dry hopped with Centennial and Nugget hops. The result is a subtly floral, hoppy brew with hints of lemon, lime, and tangerine. It’s highly crushable and pairs perfectly with yard games and an open mind.
Three Heads Donuts Delite Apple Fritter Ale
We love beer and we love donuts so obviously the two together make sense, right? Just ask the folks at Rogue (in Oregon) because they’ve been making beer collaborations with Portland’s Voodoo Donuts for years. In the same vein, Rochester, New York’s Three Heads Brewing decided to pay tribute to local pastry staple Donuts Delite by collaborating to make a 5.5 percent apple beer with apple fritters, cinnamon, and just a hint of lactose.
Made using 1,500 gallons of fresh pressed apple juice and 720 huge glazed apple fritters, this is definitely a different kind of beer. The result is a fruity beer with a large cinnamon apple presence up front. It pretty much tastes like fall in beer form (without the awful pumpkin spice flavor) with hints of gooey caramel apples and spicy cinnamon.
Pair it with a fall dessert and you have the makings of a great night.
Captain Lawrence Cookie O’Puss Stout
If you’ve ever been to Carvel (or looked in the frozen food section at your local grocery store) chances are you’ve come across the wild menagerie of ice cream cake characters that includes Fudgie the Whale, Cookie Puss, and his Irish friend Cookie O’Puss. If you enjoy any of those frozen confections, you might want also to test Captain Lawrence Brewing Company’s collaboration with Carvel — Cookie O’Puss Stout.
This St. Patrick’s Day-themed pastry stout was crewed using Carvel chocolate crunchies, ice cream, milk sugar, and fudge. Fans of dark, rich, chocolatey stouts should enjoy this roasty, malty, eight-percent brew. It literally tastes like a melted Carvel ice cream cake mixed with a stout.
If that doesn’t sell it as the perfect dessert beer, we don’t know what does.
Rogue Beard Beer
Rogue Beard Beer is the OG stunt beer (and the official beer of No-Shave November). If you’ve never heard of it, you’re in for a shock. It’s a beer that was made using yeast foraged from Rogue master brewer John Maier’s beard. Yes, beard yeast. It all started when brewers began to make jokes about Maier’s historically long beard and how it was probably full of great yeast from brewing over the years. Eventually, Maier decided he might as well figure out if he could actually extract yeast from his beard.
It worked and Rogue Beard Beer was born.
You might be wary of drinking a beer made with yeast extracted from a stranger’s beard. It sounds fairly unhygienic and seems like it couldn’t possibly pass health standards. If you’re able to look past this quirk (yeast is all around us all the time), you’ll get to sip on a subtly tangy, smooth, refreshing brew with hints of tropical fruits.
The best part? There are no weird beard flavors whatsoever.