a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
This is what Dan (my lover and in-house recipe taster) said when he was reading the label of a new-to-him beer and trying to figure out why the beer tasted so “weird”.
I sipped it too, before the label reading, and it did taste pretty funky. At first we thought it was just a bad batch of beer. But it actually became more interesting the more sips we took.
Living in Colorado, we like to think we have somewhat of a refined beer palate. Colorado is king of the U.S. craft beer world, and Dan and I are both very adventurous, and not very brand loyal, when it comes to trying new beers. But there was a unique taste to this beer neither of us could identify.
Finally, a little label reading enlightened us.
The beer is Lava Lake Wit, crafted by Crazy Mountain Brewing Company in Edwards, Colorado. According to the can label (yes, a can, it’s all the rage in Colorado craft beer), this is their take on a classic Belgian Wit.
Crazy Mountain spices their wit up with chamomile, Curacao orange peel, coriander, and grains of paradise. Turns out, chamomile is a common ingredient in a European-style wit beer (thank you, Google).
Dan and I agreed it was the distinct chamomile flavor of the beer that left the initial aftertaste that was throwing us off. We’ve had other wit beers, but none so chamomile-y. Once we were enlightened and knew what we were sipping, we really enjoyed the beer. In fact, it might be my new summer favorite.
Uniquely spiced and tea-inspired beer is not a new trend. But I’m certainly seeing more of it these days. As new craft breweries keep popping up everywhere, it seems many are trying creative twists on old classics to attract wandering palates like Dan’s and mine.
Following are a few more examples of craft beers with tea-inspired ingredients that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.
Happy cooking and sipping!
I’m a proud member of the Crafty Ladies Beer Club. We meet once a month at a local restaurant, where different breweries visit us to expand our palates with beer tastings and craft brew education. After one such visit late last year, Oskar Blues invited the Crafty Ladies on a field trip to their brewery in Lyons, Colorado, to craft our own batch of beer. With the help of their master brewer, we made an amazing Chai Stout, brewed with cardamom and other Chai-inspired spices. It turned out to be an incredibly smooth, dark beer that was easy to drink and wasn’t too sweet or spicy. Oskar Blues only produced about 10 or so kegs of the Crafty Ladies’ Chai Stout, and those kegs sure went fast! (You can read more about our beer brewing field trip here: Crafty Ladies Brew a Beer with Oskar Blues.)
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, in Delaware, released Urkontinent in September 2011. It’s a Belgian-style brew that features African Rooibos and American honey as two of the myriad of ingredients that hail from almost every continent across the globe. Rooibos is an African bush plant that is marketed as its own category of tea – red tea. Rooibos has slightly sweet and nutty flavor that works well in this rich beer, which the brewery describes as having “complex coffee and chocolate-covered cherry notes”. It’s definitely more of a cool-weather drinking beer, but it still tasted great on a sunny patio day paired with our own homemade pork sausages and pale ale beer mustard.
My friend Roger is an adventurous home brewer. He recently uncorked for us his new lavender-spiked IPA, which he’s dubbed “Lavender India Pale Abigail” after his new baby daughter. It’s a smooth, hoppy brew that has just the slightest hint of the floral and almost peppery tones of the lavender flower. Roger’s creative home brewing concoctions are partly inspired by the unique recipes in the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book. The last Roger-brew we had the pleasure of sipping was his way too tasty Cookies-and-Cream Stout. We have since been brainstorming the next uniquely spiced or tea-inspired brew he might try. Lemongrass? Mint? Ginger? Hibiscus? Whichever ingredient Roger chooses, Dan and I will be awaiting the first tasting.