A few days ago I brewed a beer with Ben Reade. Ben is Head of Culinary Research and Development at Nordic Food Lab, which means that his job is more or less to investigate the strange and for most people unfamiliar ingredients that can be consumed, how you can possibly consume them, and how they taste in different contexts. All this is incredibly exciting, especially for a brewery like Mikkeller, who is always on the lookout for transforming crazy ideas into delicious beer.
Ben's idea for this brew was to do a beer with oak moss. A friend of Ben had found a lot of moss in a forest near Gothenburg.
We had previously decided to brew a Pale Ale at about 5 % alcohol, consisting of pilsner malt, a little flaked oats and a little bit of German hops, the rest would be up to the oak moss.
We decided to use moss as you would use hops, and since moss does not taste as powerful as hops, we decided to add it as you would add flavor and aroma hops, which means at the end of cooking.
We divided the brew and made three different versions of this Oak Moss Pale Ale.
In the first version we added the moss at the end of cooking, in the second version we added more moss after the primary fermentation, just like when you dry hop a beer. The third version consists of just wort and oak moss and no added yeast. The beer will ferment because of the bacteria and wild yeast strings that hide in the moss.
It is still too early to say anything about how this beer will evolve, but for now all three beer ferment as expected.
I'll be posting more info on this crazy project on this website.
After we were done brewing this beer, Ben popped lots of ideas of beers he would like to try brewing in the future. He kept on listing one more outrageous ingredient after another. Several of the suggestions he made will end up in beers that are not suitable for vegetarians, others will not be suitable for those who feel that insects, larva and other creep do not belong in their beer….
Photo courtesy of Nordic Food Lab