Apr. 11, 2012 - Issue #860: Beowulf
Pizza and beer, check. Pizza in beer, what?
Pizza and beer is a classic combination. I suspect most of you have had a glass of beer alongside your cheesy wedge of pizza. Then, what might you think about pizza in your beer?
No, I haven't lost my mind. Recently arrived in Alberta is the world's first pizza beer. There isn't actually pizza in the beer, but the brewers have made tomato, oregano, basil and garlic key ingredients with the intention of replicating the experience of pizza (adding cheese would just create a greasy mess).
Who would come up with such an odd concoction? None other than Illinois homebrewer Tom Seefurth who created the beer six years ago in his backyard. He liked it so much he decided to quit his day job as a realtor (in 2008—good timing) to promote this strange and unique beer. He contracts the brewing of the beer to Wisconsin microbrewer Sprecher.
When I heard of the beer's arrival in our province I simply couldn't help myself. I picked up a bottle and gave it a spin.
It is a medium gold beer with a slight protein haze. The aroma bombards with tomato, sweet basil and a sharp grainy edge. I also pick up an earthy herbal character, possibly from the oregano. A bit of garlic lingers in the background. Quite frankly it smells of spaghetti sauce and beer.
The flavour starts in an interesting fashion with a fruity sweetness and a distinct tomato quality. I get some light earthiness and herbal accent. The middle sharpens a bit and develops a rough graininess. I also pick up some garlic at this point, but in a fairly subdued way. However, the finish doesn't seem right. It is harsh and incongruent. It is like the malt and the spaghetti sauce are fighting for attention, creating a bit of an incoherent mess. The fight carries on into the linger, where the oregano, garlic and basil punch it out with a sharp pilsner malt sweetness and an edgy earthiness. I fear the oregano actually wins out, as that is the thing remaining in my throat at the end.
This is a truly odd and quizzical beer. I find I quite appreciate the tomato sweetness up front and can even get into the basil and oregano accents. But keep in mind, I am a professional and used to sampling strange flavour combinations. The beer almost works for me, but not quite. The finish isn't blended enough to give the beer the necessary anchor.
There is no question this is a gimmick beer. It sucked me in for one. Would I buy it again? I don't think so. However, I don't regret giving it a try. It is truly original. V
Jason Foster is the creator of onbeer.org, a website devoted to news and views on beer from the prairies and beyond.
Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer
Sprecher Brewing Company
$6.25 For 473 ml bottle
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