Friday, October 05, 2012

Novelty Beers ... Oct 2012 "Session"

Until last month, I had not heard of  "The Session" (aka Beer Blogging Friday). I only discovered it because I was mentioned on the blog "This is Why I'm Drunk" in the article When this baby hits 88 miles per hour … Aug. 2012 “Session” , which was part of the whole session thing. I'll let you read more about the concept here:

I looked at the October 2012 topic, Novelty Beers: A shout-out for October’s The Session, and decided I would participate. Why not?

With the onslaught of even weirder beers than before, I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough? LOL! As a merchant of beer, I can see the place for novelty beers, as I am choosing for some customers who say, “I want the strangest beer you have”. We’ve even seen some novelty beers in our top-sellers. But beer traditionalists sometimes frown on these new and bizarre concoctions.

 My initial response when reading the topic was, "Sheppy, we don't drink or brew novelty beers. What will we write about?"

But "Novelty" is a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Last month, my aunt and cousin came for a visit along with a friend. Of course, I offered them beers.  At the time, I had my Wetta Berry Raspberry Beer on tap, and asked if they would like to try it. I got three of those looks. You know the look you sometimes get when someone is not quite sure if you are serious or crazy? I could tell they had their doubts about the whole concept of raspberry in beer.

To me, a raspberry beer is pretty main-stream. To them, it was a little bit of a novelty act. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is a beer geek like me.

My cousin's friend in particular was amazed by the raspberry beer. He wanted to know how it was made and how I was able to get such a subtle raspberry flavor while still making it taste like beer. Personally, I had thought I had made it with too much raspberry. Again, it is a matter of perspective.

Is a raspberry beer "Novelty"?
Later, it was time to get another round and my cousin said "surprise me". I ended up bringing them each a pint of Summer Lovin' Wheat, but I also grabbed a bottle of Gringo Cerveza Jalapeño Ale as a "surprise". Again, I do not consider a Jalapeño beer necessarily all that much of a novelty beer. I've had enough and seen enough in liquor stores and brewed them enough that it is not all that strange to me. But, again, this group of people were amazed. "How did you ever think of THAT?" asked my aunt.

And actually, even some beer geeks got excited about my Gringo Cerveza Jalapeño Ale. Heck, to me the thing that was more "novelty" about that beer was that I used popcorn in the mash (see Popcorn Jalapeño Cream Ale for more on that).

Is a Jalapeño Popcorn beer "Novelty"?
I have made a chocolate flavored beer (see Bluefield Chocolate Ale). I have made a peppermint stout (see Leprechaun Stout). I've used weird spices and maple syrup and other non-traditional ingredients. All of these probably seem like novelty beers to lots of people, whereas to me, it is just home-brewing.

Is a peppermint Stout "Novelty"

Heck, the whole concept of craft beer has a bit of side-show novelty to it. It exists because it isn't the same-old-same-old. If it wasn't different than the norm, it would be Bud or Miller or Coors.

It is all a matter of perspective.

A couple days ago, I saw probably the strangest, most unique idea for a novelty beer. Wynkoop Brewing Company (the oldest brew-pub in Denver) announced that it was actually releasing Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Yes, they are brewing a beer that includes bull testicles as part of the recipe. Now, THAT is a novelty beer.

How about you? What is the weirdest, "novelty" beer you have brewed or consumed? Leave comments below.

Go Bears!


  1. Thanks very much for the shout out! I just posted my Session response over at the blog. You've got some great points here.

    I think novelty offers so much more in homebrewing, which, in my opinion, is all about fun and experimentation. Like you, I've gotten incredible weird looks when I described my own jalapeno ale and a watermelon wheat. People thought it was weird ... and then they tried it and got on-board.

    If anything novelty adds fun to the experience of drinking beer and hopefully, good flavor, too.


  2. Thanks for leaving a comment, Bryan. Also, thanks for pointing me to the Friday session. It is a cool thing.

    P.S. I cannot believe you don't like the idea of bull testicles in beer. (not really ... actually I can totally understand not liking the idea) That is going to be one of my mandatory visits at GABF. (of course the main reason I am trying it at GABF instead of down at the brewpub is because I will get the 1 ounce pour at GABF)

  3. Wow - some of the beer recipes on your blog would be a novelty for me, but sound very tasty, which tells me I need to try more novelty beers ;-)

  4. Can't wait for the RMO stout! I may even try a whole pint at the brewpub to see if I can get the whole thing down. Should be entertaining.

    As far as the weirdest thing I've brewed, it's probably my margarita beer made with Tripel Sec or my mint chocolate stout. Commercial beer? That Ghostface Killah is pretty out there.

  5. LOL ... Pintsandpubs. Exactly my point. I don't consider any of my beers novelty. Perspective.

    Thanks for leaving the comment.

  6. Billy, I am also considering heading down to the Wynkoop and trying a pint. I just don't know. My guess is that it is actually very good and that if you didn't know it had 3 testicles per barrel, you wouldn't even know.

    Let me know what you think when you try it.