There’s not much craft brewers won’t do to make sure their beers stand out in an increasingly crowded world of hoppy IPAs, ultra pale ales, and silky smooth stouts. In some cases, they’ll resort to brewing beers made completely from foraged materials. Other times, they’ll design a beer specifically for drinking in the shower. And sometimes, brewers will even go for broke by stuffing their beer inside a taxidermied animal, charging $20,000 a bottle, and calling it a day. (Like we said, it takes a lot to stand out.)
But now Food and Wine reports that one brewer in Brazil is using an unusual ingredient to set his bottled beverages apart: the trimmings of 100-year-old bonsai trees.
Lucas Domingues, a home brewer whose previous experience involves experimenting with beers containing coca leaves (yes, those coca leaves), teamed up with his brother-in-law Renato Bocabello (conveniently one of Brazil’s largest bonsai growers) to craft the aforementioned leafy lager.
Domingues told Munchies that he got the idea to add the trimmings based on the fact that many Scandinavians historically used pine needles instead of hops to balance the flavors of their beers. After experimenting with the bonsai clippings and perfecting a recipe, Domingues knew he had a hit. As he describes it, “Everyone who tasted the beer loved it, so…I established a commercial brewery.”
That brewery, Cervejaria Heroica, now sells the bonsai-based brews under the name Kuromatsu Kamikaze IPA. Domingues is able to brew roughly 1,000 liters of the IPA every year thanks to the trimmings he receives from Bocabello’s 400+ bonsai trees. The trees vary in maturity and worth, reaching ages of more than 100 years and valued at more than $20,000. (For those keeping track, let's not forget that’s the same price as the dead-squirrel-wrapped beer we mentioned earlier).
Bocabello doesn’t take much credit for the beer, instead shifting any praise to Domingues and Heroica. As he puts it, “I’m only the bonsai master. They are the real heroes.”
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