Do you know the four main ingredients of beer? Water, malt, yeast, and hops. It sounds pretty simple, right? Of course, there are different kinds of malt, different strains of yeast, different varieties of hops, and different minerals in water based on terrain, each with their own signature flavor. Then there are all the other ingredients brewers like to toss in, like coffee, fried chicken, seaweed, and even top ramen.
The list doesn't stop there. The brewing process itself may require some unusual ingredients in your brew like say, 500 million year old dinosaur fossils. According to VinePair, Australia-based Kangaroo Island Brewery is using the remains of centuries old dinosaurs to filter their beer.
Yes, dinosaur fossils. The island is riddled with fossils and home to some of the remains of the oldest marine creatures in the Southern Hemisphere. Celebrating the treasure of paleontology along with the 10 year anniversary of excavations of Emu Bay Shale, owner of Kanagroo Island Mike Holden decided to use dinosaur shale to brew their new beer "Shale Ale".
Dinosaur bones to filter beer? It may sound crazy, but it's really not. For years, brewers have been using particular ingredients in the brewing process that you wouldn't have guessed. Take diatomaceous earth, for example. If you're a gardener, you may be familiar with this term.
Diatomaceous earth - or D.E. - is the fossilized shell remains of ancient diatoms - a marine algae. In brewing, D.E is used by the cellarmen to filter beer. It removes small particles without contributing flavor. So the odds of drinking a beer and tasting 500 million year old dinosaurs? You won't notice a thing, except clarity, of course.
Today's #WOTD is isinglass! Isinglass is a historic food additive high in collagen that is derived from the swim bladders of some species of fish, most notably sturgeon and more recently, cod. Isinglass was popularly used prior to the availability of refined gelatin to make confections, and jam or jelly to feed to the ill. Isinglass remains an important ingredient for the clarification of some beer and wine. In beer and wine production, isinglass is used as a 'fining' agent which aids in removing yeast, thereby increasing the clarity of the final product. Isinglass, like gelatin, is not vegan and is a controversial addition to beer and wine. Since the increase in popularity of gelatin, isinglass is no longer commonly used to produce confections, jams or jelly. In bony fish, the swim bladder is an organ that fills with gas, contributing to their buoyancy. Swim bladders, outside of the use of isinglass, are consumed in some Asian cultures and are considered a delicacy. Isinglass is used outside of the food and beverage industry for specialized glue manufacture to repair paintings. #isinglass #food #fish #swim #swimbladder #fishing #confections #culinary #culinaryarts #chef #cheflife #history #foodhistory #paint #art #painting
Another odd brewing technique that may send you running is isinglass. A brewing technique that has been around since the 19th century, this fancy name is nothing more than, well, fish bladder. Why use a swim bladder? Isinglass is a fining agent and from it, a gelatin is made that helps to clarify beer.
When it's added to a cask or fermentation tank, the yeast essentially bonds with the isinglass. As its job is to clarify, most of the isinglass is removed before you drink it. It's still possible, however, that trace amounts remain. While many breweries have switched over to vegan options, there are some out there that still use isinglass.
So apart from your milk stouts, oyster stouts, and fried chicken beers that announce their non-vegan ingredients in the name, the standard four ingredients may have some help in the brewing process from a few unexpected resources. While you may not be able to detect them, if you have certain dietary restrictions, you may want to research what exactly you're drinking. If you're curious about your beer, Barnivore keeps a database of what beers are vegan, and which are not.