The Wild Beer Co. of Somerset, U.K., started their brewery with the clear intention to make weird beers, or more accurately, make beers using wild yeast strains and unusual ingredients. But they went extra wild with this beer that’s been getting Yanks’ attention lately: Of the Sea, a lobster bisque–inspired brew whose recipe includes 30 live lobsters, along with a bunch of other oceany bits.
Before we dive into this wild tale — see what we did there? — we must point out that American ingenuity has already brought us here. (“Here” meaning dealing with the idea of lobsters in a beer.) Dogfish Head has been brewing their Chocolate Lobster, a robust porter brewed with live lobster, six pounds of cocoa powder, and basil since 2012; and Oxbow, in collaboration with Birrificio del Ducato of Parma, Italy, has offered their Saison Dell’Aragosta, a gose-inspired “seaside saison” also brewed with live Maine lobsters along with sea salt, since 2015.
Nevertheless, the U.K. has their own. As the story goes, Wild Beer, professed lovers of shellfish, had a staff “bisque-off” which naturally incited the idea of a sea-inspired brew that could translate those beloved bisque flavors. So, they brought sea to glass by way of cockles (little bivalve molluscs), lobsters, forged kombu (a form of kelp), and dulse seaweeds, along with “sea herbs” seasoned with Cornish sea salt and star anise.
The brewers each cooked their own lobster in the wort and also made lobster rolls for lunch, then threw the shells back in the boil for added flavor. Wild Beer co-founder Andrew Cooper told HuffPost the beer used 30 lobsters in total, each cooking for 12 minutes.
To give the beer that creamy bisque consistency, heaps of wheat were used in the grain bill for boosted body and texture, according to Wild Beer.
Finally, the sea schmutz was removed and the salty stew fermented with a saison yeast for several weeks. The brewery describes the flavor as briny, rich, and smooth, with a sea-like frothy foam.
We’re not the biggest fans of lobster beers, but if oversized ocean insects are your idea of tasty, you just might enjoy those same flavors swimming around in your brew. Don’t forget the bib.