10 of the Weirdest Beers Ever Brewed

Now that the craft beer revolution is old news, a microbrewery can’t just make better-than-average beer to get noticed. They have to do something really unique to get their name out there—and there seems to be no end to the weird things beer makers will do to get noticed. Here are some of the strangest beers on the market today.

1. The World’s Most Potent Beer

Here’s a title that seems to change every year or so. It started in 1999 with Sam Adams' Utopia, which clocked in at 21 percent alcohol by volume. Last year, the title was topped by Brewmeister Brewery’s Armageddon, which contained 65 percent ABV, and just this week, Brewmeister upped their game by announcing their new Snake Venom, which contains 67.5 percent alcohol—making it an impressive 135 proof, which is stronger than many hard liquors.

One bottle of Snake Venom will run you $80 (if you can even find it), and each bottle has a warning tag reminding you not to drink too much of the brew.

2. The Only Beer Sold In Dead Animals

If you’re looking for something with a nice blend of weirdness and a package certain to catch the eyes of your guests, try getting your hands on Brewdog’s “The End of History,” a 50 percent ABV beer released in 2010 that sold for the absurd price of $765. But you weren’t just paying for potency at that price: “The End of History” was a special, limited-edition Belgian blond ale. Only 12 bottles were made, and they were all contained within the taxidermied body of a squirrel or weasel.

3. The World’s Oldest Beer Recipe

It’s difficult to quantify the title of “World’s Oldest Beer” because humans have been brewing since around 9500 BC—before we even started writing. Since we can’t crack open a bottle of beer from the dawn of time, we have to make do with what we can, and right now the oldest brew anyone has been able to replicate comes from a 5000 year old recipe found in the Sumerian “Hymn to Ninkasi."

The beer was recreated as a joint experiment between archaeologists from the University of Chicago and brewers from the Great Lakes Brewing Company. To keep things as authentic as possible, they used recreations of ancient tools and ceramic fermentation pots, malted the barley on a roof, and hired a baker to create a yeast source similar to the kind used in ancient times. They even refrained from using modern cleaning methods to clear natural bacteria that grow in the pots.

So how did the experiment go? Well, researchers think they recreated the beer just right, but they found it was far too sour for modern day tastes and almost tasted more like vinegar than our modern beers. The brewer hopes to give it another try only with some sweet additions from the time period, like dates and honey to get rid of some of the overwhelming sour flavor. If he’s successful, you might just get to try a 5000 year old beer recipe for yourself one day courtesy of the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

4. The World’s Oldest Intact Beer

Ancient brews might not be all that appealing to modern tastes, but what about 200 year old beers? After five bottles of beer were discovered in a shipwreck back in 2011, four professional taste testers got to find out. The shipwreck was dated to the early 1800s and, unsurprisingly, the testers found the beer to taste “very old”; they also thought it tasted “acidic” with some “burnt notes.”

While you might not be able to get your hands on one of those five bottles of 200 year old beer, you might get to taste a recreation of the brew, since one of the salvagers happens to be a microbrewery owner who wants to work with scientists to resurrect the formula. Presumably the new version from Stallhagen Brewery won’t taste quite so old, but it’s hard to say if it will still taste acidic and burnt or if those flavor notes came from age as well.

5. The Beer With the Oldest Yeast Strain

Perhaps you don’t care as much about old beer recipes as you do about old ingredients. In that case, you won’t want to miss some of the brews from Fossil Fuels Brewing Company, who started brewing pale ale and German wheat beer with a strain of yeast that is over 45 million years old.

The brewery is owned by Raul Cano, who also just happens to be a scientist at the California Polytechnic State University. He uncovered the dormant yeast strain from a Lebanese weevil that was covered in ancient Burmese amber since the Eocene Period. Interestingly, while modern yeasts can consume almost any kind of sugar, this ancient variety can only grow on a narrow type of carbohydrates, which creates a unique flavor in beer.

So how does this Eocene Epoch of beers taste? The Oakland Tribune beer critic, William Brand, noted that it has a “weird spiciness at the finish,” and over all it has received positive reviews from critics and fans alike.

6. The Oddest Yeast Strain in a Beer

Plenty of brewers claim to put a little bit of themselves in their bottles, but only Rogue Ale’s The Beard Beer (which we covered back in September) takes that idea so literally. As the name implies, the beer is created thanks to a beard—specifically, the beard of the company’s master brewer, John Maier. The company was looking for a new source of yeast when someone joked Maier’s beard might be a perfect place to grow yeast. Sure enough, the beard can grow yeast—and quite great yeast, in fact, created from the over 15,000 brews Maier happened to be present for.

7. The Most Spacey Beers in the World

Want a beer with ingredients that are out of this world, literally? Then you actually have two options. Sapporo Space Barley features barley that was on the International Space Station. The 2009 limited edition beer was released in 250 six packs that sold for around $100 each. Proceeds were used to support science education.

Alternatively, Dogfish Head Brewery’s Celest-jewel-ale contains dust from lunar meteorites. If you’re wondering why the company would put crushed space rocks in your beer, it’s not just to be fancy. As it turns out, since the meteorites are mostly minerals and salts, the dust aids the fermentation process. Unfortunately for those interested, you can only get this space beer from the company’s Rehoboth Beach pub. But on the upside, if you do make it out there, it’s served in a koozie made from the same material as an astronaut’s space suit, so at least they make an effort to go for a theme. Oh, and you’d better hurry if you want to try some, as it was only made in a limited edition batch at the beginning of October and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good—just like a beautiful shooting star of beer.

8. Beer Pre-Digested By Elephants

Actually, the beer itself hasn’t been digested yet. It’s really only the coffee beans that were used in a special coffee known as Black Ivory. Rather than using civets to digest the coffee beans before they are processed, this coffee uses elephants. Then, once the elephants poop out the beans, it’s made into coffee and at that point, the coffee is brewed into Sankt Gallen’s Un, Kono Kuro. Reviewers say it was actually quite delicious, with a strong, bitter taste followed by a wave of sweetness and a mellow body.

Unfortunately, this limited edition treat sold out within minutes (even at the heavy price of $100 a bottle), so if you want to get your hands on some elephant poop beer, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty and start from scratch.

9. The Most Child-Friendly Beer

Hello Kitty has created a series of fruit-flavored brews adorned with a cute mascot. They come in sweet flavors like peach, passion fruit and banana and have about half the alcohol of a Budweiser. One reviewer said the flavor “tastes like Fanta with a beer aftertaste.” (Sanrio has no plans to start selling these in North America any time soon.)

10. Some of the Strangest Beer Flavors

Obviously there are hundreds of beers out there with bizarre flavorings, but it just wouldn’t be right to talk about weird beers without mentioning a few of the oddest flavors. Here are some of our favorites:

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer: Who says you need to chew your pizza? This brew actually is made with a whole margarita pizza in the mash and plenty of pizza spices to enhance the flavor.

Maple Bacon Coffee Porter: The best part of waking up is The Funky Buddha’s maple bacon coffee beer in your cup.

Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ale: Can’t decide between a chocolate, peanut butter, banana donut and a nice ale? Well, you’re probably already drunk, but at least you’re covered with this Rogue Ale brew.

Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout: Yes, this Wynkoop Brewing Company specialty really contains bull testicles—three per barrel, to be precise.

Oyster Stout: This Porterhouse Brewing Company stout is brewed with oysters shucked directly into the brew tank, for that “silky, salty finish.”

Coconut Curry Hefeweizen: New Belgium Brewery’s innovative brew combines the sweetness of coconut, the spicy flavor of curry and a hint of banana.

Would you guys ever drink any of these? Even better, have any of you ever tried any of these?

 

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Marvel Entertainment
10 Facts About Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian
Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment

Nearly every sword-wielding fantasy hero from the 20th century owes a tip of their horned helmet to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. Set in the fictional Hyborian Age, after the destruction of Atlantis but before our general recorded history, Conan's stories have depicted him as everything from a cunning thief to a noble king and all types of scoundrel in between. But beneath that blood-soaked sword and shield is a character that struck a nerve with generations of fantasy fans, spawning adaptations in comics, video games, movies, TV shows, and cartoons in the eight decades since he first appeared in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales. So thank Crom, because here are 10 facts about Conan the Barbarian.

1. THE FIRST OFFICIAL CONAN STORY WAS A KULL REWRITE.

Conan wasn’t the only barbarian on Robert E. Howard’s resume. In 1929, the writer created Kull the Conqueror, a more “introspective” brand of savage that gained enough interest to eventually find his way onto the big screen in 1997. The two characters share more than just a common creator and a general disdain for shirts, though: the first Conan story to get published, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was actually a rewrite of an earlier rejected Kull tale titled “By This Axe I Rule!” For this new take on the plot, Howard introduced supernatural elements and more action. The end result was more suited to what Weird Tales wanted, and it became the foundation for future Conan tales.

2. BUT A “PROTO-CONAN” STORY PRECEDED IT.

A few months before Conan made his debut in Weird Tales, Howard wrote a story called "People of the Dark" for Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror about a man named John O’Brien who seemed to relive his past life as a brutish, black-haired warrior named … Conan of the reavers. Reave is a word from Old English meaning to raid or plunder, which is obviously in the same ballpark as barbarian. And in the story, there is also a reference to Crom, the fictional god of the Hyborian age that later became a staple of the Conan mythology. This isn't the barbarian as we know him, and it's certainly not an official Conan tale, but the early ideas were there.

3. ROBERT E. HOWARD NEVER INTENDED TO WRITE THESE STORIES IN ORDER.

Howard was meticulous in his world-building for Conan, which was highlighted by his 8600-word history on the Hyborian Age the character lived in. But the one area the creator had no interest in was linearity. Conan’s first story depicted him already as a king; subsequent stories, though, would shift back and forth, chronicling his early days as both a thief and a youthful adventurer.

There’s good reason for that, as Howard himself once explained: “In writing these yarns I've always felt less as creating them than as if I were simply chronicling his adventures as he told them to me. That's why they skip about so much, without following a regular order. The average adventurer, telling tales of a wild life at random, seldom follows any ordered plan, but narrates episodes widely separated by space and years, as they occur to him.”

4. THERE ARE NUMEROUS CONNECTIONS TO THE H.P. LOVECRAFT MYTHOS.

For fans of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, one of the only names bigger than Robert E. Howard was H.P. Lovecraft. The two weren’t competitors, though—rather, they were close friends and correspondents. They’d often mail each other drafts of their stories, discuss the themes of their work, and generally talk shop. And as Lovecraft’s own mythology was growing, it seems like their work began to bleed together.

In “The Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard made reference to “vast shadowy outlines of the Nameless Old Ones,” which could be seen as a reference to the ancient, godlike “Old Ones” from the Lovecraft mythos. In the book The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, editor Patrice Louinet even wrote that Howard’s earlier draft for the story name-dropped Lovecraft’s actual Old Ones, most notably Cthulhu.

In Lovecraft’s “The Shadow of Time,” he describes a character named Crom-Ya as a “Cimmerian chieftain,” which is a reference to Conan's homeland and god. These examples just scratch the surface of names, places, and concepts that the duo’s work share. Whether you want to read it all as a fun homage or an early attempt at a shared universe is up to you.

5. SEVERAL OF HOWARD’S STORIES WERE REWRITTEN AS CONAN STORIES POSTHUMOUSLY.

Howard was only 30 when he died, so there aren’t as many completed Conan stories out in the world as you’d imagine—and there are even less that were finished and officially printed. Despite that, the character’s popularity has only grown since the 1930s, and publishers looked for a way to print more of Howard’s Conan decades after his death. Over the years, writers and editors have gone back into Howard’s manuscripts for unfinished tales to doctor up and rewrite for publication, like "The Snout in the Dark," which was a fragment that was reworked by writers Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. There were also times when Howard’s non-Conan drafts were repurposed as Conan stories by publishers, including all of the stories in 1955's Tales of Conan collection from Gnome Press.

6. FRANK FRAZETTA’S CONAN PAINTINGS REGULARLY SELL FOR SEVEN FIGURES.

Chances are, the image of Conan you have in your head right now owes a lot to artist Frank Frazetta: His version of the famous barbarian—complete with rippling muscles, pulsating veins, and copious amounts of sword swinging—would come to define the character for generations. But the look that people most associate with Conan didn’t come about until the character’s stories were reprinted decades after Robert E. Howard’s death.

“In 1966, Lancer Books published new paperbacks of Robert E. Howard's Conan series and hired my grandfather to do the cover art,” Sara Frazetta, Frazetta's granddaughter owner and operator of Frazetta Girls, tells Mental Floss. You could argue that Frazetta’s powerful covers were what drew most people to Conan during the '60s and '70s, and in recent years the collector’s market seems to validate that opinion. In 2012, the original painting for his Lancer version of Conan the Conqueror sold at auction for $1,000,000. Later, his Conan the Destroyer went for $1.5 million.

Still, despite all of Frazetta’s accomplishments, his granddaughter said there was one thing he always wanted: “His only regret was that he wished Robert E. Howard was alive so he could have seen what he did with his character.”

7. CONAN’S FIRST MARVEL COMIC WAS ALMOST CANCELED AFTER SEVEN ISSUES.

The cover to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #21
Marvel Entertainment

Conan’s origins as a pulp magazine hero made him a natural fit for the medium’s logical evolution: the comic book. And in 1970, the character got his first high-profile comic launch when Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian hit shelves, courtesy of writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith.

Though now it’s hailed as one of the company’s highlights from the ‘70s, the book was nearly canceled after a mere seven issues. The problem is that while the debut issue sold well, each of the next six dropped in sales, leading Marvel’s then editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, to pull the book from production after the seventh issue hit stands.

Thomas pled his case, and Lee agreed to give Conan one last shot. But this time instead of the book coming out every month, it would be every two months. The plan worked, and soon sales were again on the rise and the book would stay in publication until 1993, again as a monthly. This success gave way to the Savage Sword of Conan, an oversized black-and-white spinoff magazine from Marvel that was aimed at adult audiences. It, too, was met with immense success, lasting from 1974 to 1995.

8. OLIVER STONE WROTE A FOUR-HOUR, POST-APOCALYPTIC CONAN MOVIE.

John Milius’s 1982 Conan movie is a classic of the sword and sorcery genre, but its original script from Oliver Stone didn’t resemble the final product at all. In fact, it barely resembled anything related to Conan. Stone’s Conan would have been set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where the barbarian would do battle against a host of mutant pigs, insects, and hyenas. Not only that, but it would have also been just one part of a 12-film saga that would be modeled on the release schedule of the James Bond series.

The original producers were set to move ahead with Stone’s script with Stone co-directing alongside an up-and-coming special effects expert named Ridley Scott, but they were turned down by all of their prospects. With no co-director and a movie that would likely be too ambitious to ever actually get finished, they sold the rights to producer Dino De Laurentiis, who helped bring in Milius.

9. BARACK OBAMA IS A FAN (AND WAS TURNED INTO A BARBARIAN HIMSELF).

When President Barack Obama sent out a mass email in 2015 to the members of Organizing for Action, he was looking to get people to offer up stories about how they got involved within their community—their origin stories, if you will. In this mass email, the former Commander-in-Chief detailed his own origin, with a shout out to a certain barbarian:

“I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.

Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story—the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.”

This bit of trivia was first made public in 2008 in a Daily Telegraph article on 50 facts about the president. That led to Devil’s Due Publishing immortalizing the POTUS in the 2009 comic series Barack the Barbarian, which had him decked out in his signature loincloth doing battle against everyone from Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney.

10. J.R.R. TOLKIEN WAS ALSO A CONAN DEVOTEE.

The father of 20th century fantasy may always be J.R.R. Tolkien, but Howard is a close second in many fans' eyes. Though Tolkien’s work has found its way into more scholarly literary circles, Howard’s can sometimes get categorized as low-brow. Quality recognizes quality, however, and during a conversation with Tolkien, writer L. Sprague de Camp—who himself edited and touched-up numerous Conan stories—said The Lord of the Rings author admitted that he “rather liked” Howard’s Conan stories during a conversation with him. He didn’t expand upon it, nor was de Camp sure which Conan tale he actually read (though it was likely “Shadows in the Moonlight”), but the seal of approval from Tolkien himself goes a long way toward validation.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios