When Craft Beer Goes Too Far

For 477 years, beer was censored by Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law. This permitted the use of three ingredients in beer — water, barley, and hops. Then the unthinkable happened in 1993: yeast was added to the list.

Even the various avored malts used as ingredients outside of Germay limit the crafting possibilities of creating a truly unique tasting beer. Brewmasters who are stuck using these few ingredients have little ability to be creative with five ingredients. However, in an impatient market where new breweries are popping up like ads on a computer, unconventional ingredients are entering the batch.

And not humdrum ingredients. Some are as simple as fruits and are pleasant tastes like milk, sugar, pumpkin, and chocolate. But brewers are pushing a circus of ingredients into their formula like Norwegian currency and yeast extracted from the brewmaster’s beard.


These brews are like experiments of a mad scientist combined with the craft of an artisan. Consumers want daring yet brewers must make the taste more than a ‘you-only-try-it-once’ escapade.

The recipes and ingredients are a nightmare for brew masters who aim for as good a taste as possible. This must drive the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau up a wall because they have to wrap their heads around, and approve, every ingredient that goes into these concoctions.

Brew City is no stranger to this phenomenon. Though German in history, here are some of the most peculiar ingredients used by Milwaukee brewers.

MobCraft Beer LLC., the Madison-based but soon to be Milwaukee-based, brewery, hosts an online poll every month with obscure recipes submitted by brewers. The vote draws participants from around the country. When the winner is chosen, one batch of the recipe is created and sold as a limited edition product. This process led to beers such as Don Durio’s Filthy Mustachio (Durian fruit and cashews) and Candy for Breakfast (Coffee, peanuts, and cocoa powder).


MobCraft only makes one batch of these crowdsourced beers and sells them in 36 states.

Milwaukee Brewing Co. brews its seasonal Sasquatch beer with

400 pounds of pumpkin and 300 sweet potatoes. Horny Goat Brewing Co. makes its seasonal Brownie Porter with various malts but throughout the brewing process adds brown sugar, cinnamon Tahitian vanilla beans and Ecuadorian cacao nibs are added for a brownie flavor.

Other Wisconsin Beer Oddities

  • Nimble Lips, Noble Tongue No.3: The third attempt in 3 Sheeps’ experimental series. Out of the 12 versions in the series, Vol. 3 takes the cake with squid ink, which darkens the beer and enhances the power of the hops.
  • Hop Gose the Grapefruit: Inspired by a man who liked salt on his morning grapefruit, this beer has a citrusy and tart aftertaste with subtle saltiness. The murky orange-brown beer is great for hot days.
  • Bacon Bomb Rauchbier: There is no actual bacon used in the beer making process, but the fad of bacon continues. This beer is light with a bite and washes down nicely with your summer barbecue.

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