A brewery in southwest England has given one of its beers a real shellfish twist.
Initial reaction to the concept was “mixed,” the company’s co-founder Andrew Cooper told HuffPost during a tasting at its brewery near Shepton Mallet in Somerset this month.
“But we’d far rather brew something genuinely interesting and one that gets an emotional reaction from people than just another beer,” he added.
Inspiration for the drink came from the mutual love that Cooper and his fellow brewery co-founder Brett Ellis share for the dish lobster bisque. And following a brewery team “bisque off,” they decided to take the plunge and transform the idea of the highly seasoned soup into a beer.
They dropped the lobsters and other ingredients into the boil for 12 minutes, before removing the crustaceans and stripping them of their meat. Staff enjoyed a team lunch of lobster rolls as the shells were grilled to intensify their flavor and then put back in at the end of the boil. They then extracted all the food debris, added saison yeast and left it to ferment for one week and to undergo a period of maturation for two weeks.
Only 120 Of The Sea kegs and 8,000 bottles, costing around $4.40, were put on sale, making it a limited edition.
But Of The Sea isn’t the only offbeat beer that The Wild Beer Co, which will exhibit at the Bristol Craft Beer Festival in September, is producing.
Not all beers have hit the mark, though. Cooper described their 3.9 percent Deckchair brew as “meh.” “There were tonnes of elderflowers around us so we got them with local strawberries and it just didn’t quite work for us,” he said. “It’s one of the only beers we’ve ever gone, ‘it’s disappointing.’”
The brewery’s enthusiasm to experiment with unusual or foraged ingredients appears to be succeeding, as it recently crowdfunded around $2.3 million to build a new brewery complete with a visitor center. It also operates two bars in nearby Bristol and Cheltenham and exports to 22 countries, including the U.S.
Cooper hopes a willingness to try out different ideas will stand the brewery in good stead for the future, as he predicted the craft beer industry in the United Kingdom in particular was due “a bit of a rollup at some point.”
“I think it’s inevitable as it’s going up at such a rate,” he said. “There’s going to be some more buyouts, some people go under, as I don’t think the U.K. beer consumer can support the number of breweries that are opening.”
“Yeah, this is different, but it’s fun,” he said of his company’s eclectic range of drinks. “But we make beer for a living. If you can’t have fun doing that, what can you do to enjoy yourself?”