We live in a pretty strange world. In 2021, we don’t even have to explain or qualify that statement. Sh*t’s weird in a whole lot of ways.
We’re going to assume you know the big ways the world is strange (or at least didn’t come to this particular article to discover them) and focus on some of the sillier strangeness: quirky beers. We’re not just talking about lactose-filled milkshake IPAs and chocolate and coffee-fueled barrel-aged stouts, either. We’re talking “pizza beer” and brews made with donut holes.
In an effort to #KeepBeerWeird, we decided to highlight some of the bizarro brewed oddities out there. So we checked in with some of our favorite bartenders, asking them to call out the most creative/occasionally unappetizing combinations of hops, malts, water, and yeast ever assembled.
Gavin Humes, bartender at Scratch|Bar & Kitchen in Encino, California
Petalum from Cellador Ales in Los Angeles. According to their own verbiage, it’s bottle conditioned using the sugar from root vegetables. It’s specifically made using beet sugar in this case and has a crazy red color that’s unique to say the very least.
What does it taste like? Beets… mostly. But it’s fascinating and definitely worth a try.
Average Price: $11 for a 375ml bottle
450 North Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Slushy
Candace Marie Peterson, beertender at Lone Tree Brewing in Lone Tree, Colorado
One of the strangest beers I’ve had happened to have come out of 2020. It’s a Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Slushy from 450 North Brewing. Sour and pumpkin were words that I never would have thought belonged together, but it really works well. You get everything that you should get. A little bit of pumpkin spice, some cheesecake notes, and a sour punch.
Average Price: $10 for a 16-ounce can
Forbidden Root Fernetic
Andy Printy, beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis
The oddest beer I’ve had experienced has to be Fernetic from Chicago’s Forbidden Root. A dark beer inspired by one of my favorite spirits, Fernet-Branca. Using various ingredients from the digestif’s 175-year-old recipe, this brew is rich, malty, and aggressive with notes of saffron, wormwood, and rhubarb.
Coming in at 8.4% ABV, it’s not for the timid.
Average Price: $17.99 for a 22-ounce bottle
Living The Dream Two Barrel Tom
Sarah Kemp, beertender at Living The Dream Brewing in Littleton, Colorado
I’m a huge fan of trying unconventional crafty creations, but one that stands out for me is the Two Barrel Tom from Living the Dream Brewing. This delicious imperial wit is one of the reasons I wanted to work in the industry. Brewed with orange zest, coriander, and lemongrass then aged in gin and cabernet barrels, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Average Price: $12.99-$14.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
All I have to say is Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer. It does not taste as good as pizza and beer do on their own, even when enjoyed side by side. Stick to the classics.
Average Price: $2.37 for a 16-ounce bottle
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Alex Tack, bartender at Rex 1516 in Philadelphia
I have to say the most niche style I can think of is a rauchbier. Because the restaurant I work for specializes in Southern food, I sought out Aecht Schlenkerla’s rauchbier to see how it would taste with our barbeque, since they’re widely considered one of the standard-bearers of the style. I love smoky flavors in just about anything, but I find the style really overwhelming. Something about it tastes vaguely like soy sauce and the liquid smoke condiment to me.
I really wanted to like this one, but I didn’t.
Average Price: $5.49 for a 500ml bottle
Brandon “Habi” Habenstein, bartender at The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Co. in Bardstown, Kentucky
One of the strangest beers I’ve ever had was infused with green cardamom pods. Voorjaar, the Dutch word for “spring” is one of four seasonal saisons made at Monnik Beer Company. The cardamom works very well with the natural peppery note that you can sometimes get from Belgian style beers. You are not alone if you think this beer doesn’t sound delicious on paper, but it’s just one of those things in life that sounds horrible but is actually great.
Next time you’re in Kentucky, swing by Louisville’s Germantown neighborhood and throw back a few pints at Monnik.
Average Price: $8-$9 for a pint
Freddy Yanez, bartender at Unreserved Beer Garden in Orlando
The strangest beer I’ve ever had is Guavacation from Ivanhoe Park Brewery. Besides its amazing pink color from its guava infusion, it offers tart notes in the front palate, resembling a cider but with a malty finish that defines it as the beer it is.
Average Price: $11.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans
Sheetz Project Happy Hole-idayz
Convenience store chain Sheetz has had a few strange collaborative beers in the last few years (including a hotdog beer), but one of its strangest is Project Happy Hole-idayz. This limited-edition, holiday beer made in collaboration with Wicked Weed was brewed with one pound per barrel of Shweetz Grazed Vanilla Donut Holes.
It tastes exactly like you expect it to taste. Sugary, sweet, and very strange.
Average Price: $7.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans