If I said vegetable beers are coming hot on the heels of fruit beers, that statement would have to be cropped. They not hot (except when they are), but more and more, brewers are stalking their local farmers’ markets and squashing the notion that of all things, vegetables don’t belong in beer. Shallot be pointed out that last year’s GABF – for the first time – had a Field Beer category.
Not surprisingly, all three medalists were pumpkin beers, with Akron, OH’s Hopping Frog Brewery’s Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale earning a gold. Despite the fact that pumpkins botanically are fruits, let’s call a spade a spade, cauliflower a flower, and agree with what the Supreme Court ruled in the 1893 case Nix v. Heden, that just because certain edible plants are scientifically fruits (pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes…), their social, culinary, and in our case, brewing applications are vegetables.
Pumpkin beers have become the most popular of all seasonal beers and there’s even Seattle’s Great Pumpkin Beer Fest from Elysian Brewing. For those of us who love trying hot beers, brewers are playing around with a wide array of chili peppers, as featured at the chili beer fest last weekend in Snowmass, CO.
From the field, brewers have harvested leafy veggies (the Vrienden collaboration project saw New Belgium brew their version with Belgian endive and the Allagash version included dandelions), roots (talk about a beaten path, The Bruery, Odell Brewing Co., Breakside, Magic Hat, Watch City and Empire have all done beet beers), and pods (Bear Republic’s split pea Clobberskull was specifically brewed for the debut of GABF’s Field Beer competition).
Of course, as healthy produce keeps finding its way into exotic beers, those who brew them must strive to make them palatable, not merely interesting. I can’t forget the time I’d been dying to try the Mama Mia Pizza Beer (brewed with tomatoes and herbs) but because of Pennsylvania laws, I had to buy a whole case. This reason I can’t forget is because I still have a bunch of bottles!
What’s your favorite field beer? What veggie would you love to try in a beer that you haven’t come across yet?