Taste testing funky brews for your reading pleasure
By Lauren Cutshall, Kelcie McKenney, Emily Mongan, and Alex Nelson
What do you get if you put a bunch of writers in a room and give them weird beer? Well, words like “pudding-y” for one. “Hella hoppy,” for another. And my personal favorite, “spicy spiciness.” We may not know our beer and we admit that. But we decided to try six of the weirdest beers we could find. We found that beer, in fact, can be really weird.
Like fine wine descriptions, beer explanations are often foreign to us. Have no fear, we’re here to explain some of the weirdest beers in the most recognizable ways. We’re amateurs when it comes to beer (what are hops, again?) and we know some of you are too. Our most common critique was some variation of “Mmm” and we certainly had some truly thoughtful comments such as, “Smells like beer.” Huh, imagine that.
From dessert beers, to beers infused with tea and pretzels, and to beer that really just tasted like soda, join us on the The Wake’s liquor store tour of weird beers.
Furthermore Brewing: Black River Falls, WI – 5.5%
Emily: It’s clearing my sinuses. Hoo!
Kelcie: I like the taste but I am feeling that pepper in the back of my throat.
Alex: Tastes kind of metal-y.
Lauren: I feel like it taste like you’re drinking beer with your over-peppered meal and you’re just like, “Oh damn, let me wash it down!”
Pepper Beer: something new to add to the list of things you would never think of. Labeled on Furthermore’s website as “a most particular pale,” Knot Stock lives up to its name. With a distinct, unmistakable pepper flavor, the beer isn’t something to be had with just any meal. It’s not something you drink to relax. Rather, Knot Stock holds its own as a conversation topic and party trick in and of itself. Knot Stock is a one bottle kind of beer—you won’t want too much of it. But if you’re into back-of-your-throat heat and “spicy-spiciness,” Knot Stock should be your go-to weird beer.
Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale
Charles Wells Brewing: Bedford, UK – 5%
E: It smells like Christmas!
K: It does do a very good job at putting its name together.
A: Imagine this as like, a root beer float.
L: It’s very pudding-y.
If dessert beer is a thing, then Sticky Toffee Pudding must be perfection. While other beers may brag of their “toffee notes,” it doesn’t always come through. But Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale does not lie. Not only does it taste like a dessert on its own, but its sweetness is multidimensional, without losing that bit of beer bitterness. The ale smells as good as it tastes and it’s classy in a way that doesn’t surprise you when you learn it’s from the UK. If chai tea lattes are the Christmases of coffee, Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is the Christmas of beer.
Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Chocolate and Raspberry Ale
Rogue: Newport, OR – 5.4%
A: It tastes like an Uncrustable. I’ve actually never had an Uncrustable but this is how I’d imagine they taste.
L: What would you even pair this beer with?
K: A drunken single girl’s night. This is a post-breakup beer.
E: Just go with vodka. This is like Ben and Jerry’s and alcohol.
Overwhelming: that’s the first word that comes to mind after tasting Rogue’s Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale. Based off of a chocolate doughnut with raspberry filling and a pretzel stabbed through the heart—like a voodoo doll—this beer has a lot of flavors to take in. It smells potently of pretzels, but only tastes of chocolate, raspberry, and a hint of coffee with a weird onslaught of after tastes coming in at the end. If you’re looking for a beer to pair with dessert or doughnuts, as Rogue’s website suggests, or something to confuse your taste buds with a vast array of flavors, this sugary and complicated Doughnut Ale might be a good pick for you. But, if a complicated sweet brew isn’t your thing, maybe pass on the Voodoo Doughnut Ale.
O-Gii Tea-Infused Beer
Milwaukee Brewing Co.: Milwaukee, WI – 9.2%
A: That’s zen as fuck.
E: It could be my hometown bias, but also the fact that it’s named after like a Japanese cartoon monster.
K: The packaging’s cool, it’s light enough where I feel like someone who isn’t big on beer would be comfortable trying it.
L: Like iced tea.
Leave it to America’s Beer Capital to take flavor-infused brews to the next level. If you’re ever stuck in that limbo between breakfast and happy hour, Milwaukee Brewing Co. has your back with O-Gii, a wheat beer infused with tea from Milwaukee’s own Rishi Tea. The beer and tea flavors are perfectly balanced, without one overpowering the other like some of the other flavored beers we tried. It tastes light and refreshing (one reviewer noted that “it feels like clouds”), like the perfect beer to crack open on the porch on a hot summer day with a slice of lemon on the glass. But for its entire refined flavor, O-Gii doesn’t take itself too seriously—the packaging features a Godzilla-like creature sipping on a glass of beer while smiling mischievously. As one reviewer put it, “That’s the face I want to be making when I’m drinking this beer, because it feels like I’m getting away with something.”
Baaad Boy: Black Wheat Ale
Sheep’s Brewing: Sheboygan, WI – 5.5%
L: It’s really smoky, but not in like a smoky cabin way, but like in a house fire way.
A: Yeah, not smoke in like a French roast, Starbucks Reserve way, but like a “holy shit get the fire extinguisher” way.
E: This is just hella hoppy.
K: This is blacker than my soul. I don’t know what to think.
Don’t be fooled by this beer’s coffee-like aroma… Baaad Boy Black Wheat Ale knows exactly who he is. This is a bold, smooth, thick, and smoky ale that is brazen in its identity. For that reason, it’d be near impossible to consume more than one of these bad boy’s in a night, but that is not to say there isn’t a time and a place (and a type of person to whom) this beer belongs (read: dads. Or like, lumberjacks). I’d choose this beer if I had just come inside from a long day of hunting deer and I’m pairing it with a well-done steak. In just about every single other situation, though, I’d go with a Miller Lite or something.
Decadent Chocolate Ale
Atwater Brewery: Detroit, MI. – 5.5%
K: Guys, I’m a lightweight. It’s got alcohol, I can tell.
E: Already? It’s a Dixie cup full of beer.
A: Are you like on Klonopin or something?
L: We’re going to start calling you Dixie Cup now.
Some things (like, unfortunately, Rogue Voodoo Donut’s gagworthy “Pretzel/Chocolate/Raspberry” Ale) taste exactly like their descriptors. One sip of that shit and you’ve got a fiesta of fake pretzel, chocolate, berry, and beer syrups in your mouth. For Atwater Brewery’s “Decadent Chocolate Ale,” however, this is not the case. I’m not entirely sure how these beer-makers missed the mark so disastrously, but this beer is neither decadent nor chocolatey. If I’m being honest, it’s not even really Ale-y. It seems like these flavor-challenged Michiganians eschewed any chocolate flavor at all in favor of a more delicate, (sickly) watered-down mud taste. Seriously, this beer tastes like flat, weird, chocolate(?) Pepsi. May be poisonous.