Spicing up beer flavour

Brewers love tinkering with flavours. Indeed the natural additives they use goes way beyond the traditional ingredient list of malt, water, hops and yeast.

Some flavoured beers go back centuries. Belgium Lambic beers, for example, originated as natural ferments of beer with blackberry (cassis), raspberry (Framboise), cherry (kriek) or peach (peche) – a process described by one brewer as a tag-team of microbes producing a palatable, if idiosyncratic, sweet and sour sipping beer.

And in northern Germany, Berliner Weisse, dating probably from the sixteenth century, remains popular. It’s a low alcohol wheat beer with a sour, lactic flavour, usually served pre-mixed with raspberry or woodruff cordial.

While some additives, like Stilton, chilli and pizza sound positively weird, others, carefully handled, produce interesting, tasty beers. The list includes banana, ginger, Australian pepper berry, chocolate, coffee, shiraz, various herbs and spices and even fresh truffle.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011