A Brewer Is Using Fossils To Filter Beer Called ‘Shale Ale’

Beer filtration is one of those steps in beer brewing that generally isn’t fussed over. It’s not as glitzy as aromatic hopping or bubbling yeasts eating sugars. It’s generally just beer passing through a filter of sorts to stabilize it so there’s a constant to the beer’s shelf life. The biggest reason to filter any beer is to maintain clarity. Brewers create a mesh small enough to capture micro-particles that cause haze. Then pressure is added to force the fluid through, and boom — filtered, crystal clear beer. Generally speaking, you don’t need anything crazy to complete the filtration process. Enter Mike Holden.

Holden opened up a microbrewery on Kangaroo Island in Australia and wanted to do something wholly unique to distinguish his beer. He and his wife operate their brewery with the ethos of everything being “handmade” from the brewhouse they built, to the hand grown hops and grains, to the handmade beers they brew. And to add an extra layer of uniqueness and to celebrate their island, Holden decided to filter his beer in a way that hasn’t been done before — through 500 million-year-old shale where fossils were found.

Kangaroo Island is famous for being a paleontologist playground with huge stores of fossils being excavated over the last ten years. So Holden decided to use some of the shale from the area that house those fossils to filter his beer. Holden explained the reason behind his “Shale Ale” to the Australian press, “we just thought for this one, why not let the millions of years of shale rock speak for itself and see what comes through?” Which, fair enough. Why not? Holden claims the beer has “a unique flavour to it,” but that the flavor “is not off-putting.” Holden doesn’t elaborate on what that “unique” flavor is. But if we had to guess, we’d say rock. Just a guess.

It’s certainly interesting to add an extra layer of terroir to the beer via the filtration process. And who doesn’t want to seek out a beer that’s been filtered through 500 million-year-old shale that hid away fossilized fish and dinosaurs? And there’s certainly enough fossil beds around America for this to catch on stateside if it’s tasty. We’d certainly give it a try.