Honey beer, coffee beer, cherry beer; there is a whole lot that you can add to beer to switch up the flavor. But what's the latest in craft beer brewing? Seaweed.
Leave it to a brewery in Maine to start using the gift of the sea in their beers. Already known for using unconventional ingredients in their brews - a kolsch with agave nectar anyone? - maybe it's no surprised that the Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. turned to seaweed, especially since the brewery is located right on the water. In Maine, seaweed is after all, quite available.
"If there's seaweed in Maine and it's a good product," brewing company owner David Carlson told NPR, "why not try putting it in the beer?"
The new beer, called Sea Belt, is a Scotch Ale, made using six pounds of dried kelp, equal to 60 pounds of wet seaweed, for the 200 gallon batch. Marshal Wharf isn't a newbie when it comes to putting seafood into beers; they already have a stout made with oysters.
To make the craft beer, the brewery partnered up with Maine Fresh Sea Farms and the Maine Sea Grant. Maine Fresh Sea Farms is a six-month-old aquaculture enterprise. The global seaweed industry comes in at $6 billion worldwide, and when thinking about ways to sustainably use wild resources, Maine is well positioned to explore how to best develop seaweed production. A versatile organism, it can be used for everything from food to fertilizer.
"We know that if we can figure out how to farm it on sea farms, then we'll be able to provide more of a sustainable source of seaweeds," says Redmond, "for exciting new products in Maine and to drive new innovation," Sarah Redmond, an aquaculture specialist at the University of Maine's Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, told NPR.
Maine Sea Grant is working with local shellfish farmers to build expertise in growing kelp, and will produce it on mussel farms, which of course if people like drinking Sea Belt, will be a good thing for the beer business.
And if the beer business does well, so will the seaweed industry, in Maine and beyond.
“All over the world, people are realizing the benefit of seaweed for food. It’s an opportunity for Maine to become seaweed producers, and come up with new products and ideas. That’s why the Marshall Wharf beer is so exciting,” Redmond told Bangor Daily News.
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Image: Urban Sea Star