10 bizarre beers you probably haven’t heard of

And you thought adding hints of blueberry and flavors of pumpkin to your brew was unique? Check out this list of 10 bizarre beers and you’ll be thinking that cherry ale is as boring as water.

Pizza Beer

Pizza Beer was created by Tom and Athena Seefurth in Campton Township, Illinois, when they had a surplus of tomatoes. The process of creating this brew involves mashing a Margarita pizza and steeping it. The essence of the pizza spices is washed off and put in a brewpot to boil. Hops and spices are added, the liquid is fermented, and, after a week or two, your pizza beer is good to go.Porterhouse Oyster Stout

This beer, created by the Porterhouse Brewing Company in Ireland, is not suitable for vegetarians, as it is literally brewed with oysters. Other components include grains such as pale malt, roast barley, black malt, and flaked barley as well as hops like Galena, Nugget, and East Kent Goldings.

Bacon Beer

Bacon Beer, which has actual bacon in it, is a creative brew created by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver. To create this beer, Oliver infuses a brown ale with the flavor of bacon fat using a method known as “fat washing”. Because the entire process is so complicated, it is an expensive $350 a taste, according to Daniel Maurer at NBC New York. However, Oliver is attempting to simplify the process in order to make the beer more affordable to beer drinkers.

Creme Brulee Beer

The Southern Tier Brewing Company offers a beer that you can also have for dessert. This Imperial Milk Stout is made with 2-row pale malt, dark caramel malt, vanilla bean, lactose sugar, Columbus kettle hops, and Horizon aroma hops. Bonus: Other dessert beers from this brewing company include an oatmeal stout and a “choklat stout”.

Chili Beer

Originally created by the Black Mountain Brewing Company in Cave Creek, Arizona, this beer has a kick to it which can be attributed to the addition of chili peppers to the brew. While the originally brewing company has closed down, chili beer continues to be created by the Mexicali Brewery in Tecate, Mexico.

Tomato Beer

Anheuser-Busch in Missouri brings tomato flavored beer to brew lovers in their Chelada, a mixture of Budweiser and Clamato juice. With chunks of tomato and a spicy flavor, this savory beer is best served with some lime and a celery stick.

Champagne Beer

Kasteel Cru creates a Champagne flavored beer by blending water from the los Vosges mountains, malted barley, and choicest hops and adds the method of Champange yeast fermentation. Just like when sipping Champagne, drinkers can expect a crisp, clean finish.

Coffee Beer

The Southern Tier Brewing Company makes the list again with their coffee flavored brew called jah*va Imperial Coffee Stout. It is made by blending 2-row pale malt, caramel malt, chocolate malt, black malt, roasted barley, Cascade and Columbus hops, and Jamiacan Blue Moutain Coffee. With its complex flavor, the brewers warn consumers to drink this beer in moderation.

Peanut Butter Beer

While experimenting at the Blue Moon Brewing Company in Colorado, Keith Villa, the Blue Moon Brewmaster, came up with a peanut butter ale. According to Royal Griggs at OnMilwaukee.com, Villa used Jif peanut butter for this unique brew, which has even won some awards. Another idea that Villa has been toying with is creating a Black and Tan-type brew of his own using food flavors. The creation has a rasperry cream ale on the bottom and the peanut butter ale on top.

Banana Bread Beer

Wells & Young’s Brewing Company in Bedford, England, has created a Banana Bread Beer using real fair trade bananas. This dark golden ale has a crisp flavor, a malty aroma, and is tropically fruity with a hit of bitterness.

Food, Travel and the Definition of Nowhere While on the Road

It seemed like any other Tuesday afternoon in Calcata, the loony medieval hill town 35 miles north of Rome where I spent a couple years living and researching a book. I was trudging down the hill from Calcata Nuova, the ancient hill town’s modern sibling, my hands weighed down with bags of groceries and six-packs of one-liter water bottles, when I heard something.

“Hey. Davide,” a voice said. It was Capellone, the local fascist, who liked to hang out in his shack-cum-cantina, lodged into the hillside between the two villages. It was here that Capellone–local dialect for “Big Hair”–liked to lure people in to imbibe his putrid homemade wine.

And soon enough, the bearded man himself, hunched over, emerged from the blackness like some kind of cave-dwelling hermit, imploring with a wave of his hand and some incomprehensible grunts to come inside–just for a goccione, a sizeable drop. Within seconds I was sitting on a log inside his musty dark shack, a white plastic cup of disgusting wine in my hand, and listening to Cappelone grunt out stories in incomprehensible Italian.

Suddenly two silhouettes appeared at the door of his cantina and Capellone jumped up to greet them. I followed. The two men wore light-pink button-up shirts and dark sports jackets. I peered up the hill toward Calcata Nuova and saw at least 10 more, all dressed the same way, marching toward us, followed by Zio Avelio (Uncle Avelio), the food shop owner, and Cesare, the sweet but mentally slow village idiot, carrying tin containers of food.

Capellone dispersed his trademark cheap white plastic cups, the aluminum foil was ripped off the tin food containers and suddenly the party was on. The identically dressed men roared with laughter and slapped each other on the back.

I stood behind everyone for a second and watched the scene, wondering: why does this only seem to happen to me when I’m traveling? These impromptu invitations, often by complete strangers, become our most memorable experiences from a trip. Food and/or drink is always the connecting bond. At least for me it is. Am I just not open to it happening in the United States, my home country? Or does this sort of thing just not really happen there as often as it does elsewhere in the world?

“So, what’s going on here?” I finally asked. “Why the party?”

“We love funerals in Calcata Nuova,” one of the guys said, holding a glass of wine in one hand and a paper plate of mixed seafood with the other. “We do funerals all over the area, but when we hear of a job in Calcata, we always call Capellone ahead of time and he’s waiting for us here at the cantina with food and wine.”

“So, the funeral is over and now you’re celebrating a hard day’s work?” I asked.

“No, the funeral is happening right now,” the man said, looking at me like I’d just asked if he could take me on a joy ride in the back of his hearse. Pointing up the hill in the direction of the cemetery in Calcata Nuova, he added: “We don’t have anything to do until it’s finished. Then we have to drive back to Civita Castellana.”

Before I could respond, I noticed that everyone had grown silent, their attention focused on Cesare, his bulging hands like they were sculpted straight out of a Soviet propaganda artist’s workshop, shoveling calamari and unidentifiable fish parts into his mouth with the determination of a competitive eater. Cesare was sweet, but so mentally slow I wondered if it would take hours before his stomach would finally be able to get the message to his brain that it was full. Six and a half feet tall and balding, Cesare spoke in a slow, grinding, and slurred monotone that made understanding him impossible. Moreover, he spoke Calcatese, a clipped dialect that sounds nearly incomprehensible to most other native Italian speakers. I once asked my friend Elena what happened to him and she said he was in a car accident.

“Oh, that’s terrible,” I said. “So he was normal before the accident?”

“No,” she said with a straight face. “He was pretty much the same. He just didn’t limp.”

After about 10 minutes of Cesare chomping down, the front of Capellone’s cantina an arena for his eating prowess, the funeral workers began shouting out jovial jabs at him. “He’s an eating machine,” one of them yelled out. “Hey, Cesare! Why not save some for the rest of us?” another screamed in a light tone, for which Cesare cracked a smile and grunted, keeping his intent stare on the tin container of seafood.

A few minutes later, the men–their bellies full of wine and seafood–gravitated back up the hill to join the funeral they were hired to work at, leaving Capellone and me standing there, just like we had been about 20 minutes earlier. I was left wondering if the last few minutes I just experienced were real or some kind of travel dream. It was like I’d been no where and everywhere at the same time, lodged on a hillside between two obscure villages in the Roman hinterlands, yet right then at that moment there was no other place I would have rather been than drinking bad wine with a bunch of funeral home employees and watching a machine of a man scooping handfuls of seafood into his mouth. Where else, I thought, can a trip to the supermarket be so memorable? Anywhere, it seems, but where we live. Such is the beauty of travel to appreciate the moments that at home we might completely ignore.

I picked up my grocery bags, said goodbye to Capellone, and walked home to Calcata.

Up and at ’em: breakfasts around the world

Your mother told you to never skip breakfast. That also holds true for when you travel, for it is the morning meal that prepares you for your days of museum hopping and temple touring, zip-lining and mountain biking, market haggling and people watching.

Simpler than lunch or dinner, breakfast is less prone to culinary innovation and more likely to be an honest representation of its country’s culture and native foods. Sure, boxed cereals are available in every corner of the globe and eggs tend to be a breakfast staple the world over. But have you ever thought to start your day with ceviche, olives, or a bowl of piping hot noodles?

We here at Gadling are dedicated to providing you with travel inspiration and what’s a better motivator than seeing some of the breakfasts you can expect to wake up to? Enjoy this gallery of breakfasts around the world and tell us in the comments below about a breakfast that made your travels special.


Photo by Flickr user Pocket Cultures

Eating in the Horn of Africa: camel, goat and. . .spaghetti?

When my wife and I went to the Horn of Africa last year for our Ethiopia road trip, we were eagerly looking forward to a culinary journey. We weren’t disappointed. Ethiopian food is one of our favorites and of course they make it better there than anywhere else!

While it came as no surprise that the food and coffee were wonderful, the cuisine in the Horn of Africa turned out to be more varied and nuanced that we expected. The two countries I’ve been to in the region, Ethiopia and Somaliland, have been connected to the global trade routes for millennia. Their national cuisines have absorbed influences from India, the Arab world, and most recently Italy.

Ethiopians love meat, especially beef and chicken. One popular dish is kitfo–raw, freshly slaughtered beef served up with various fiery sauces. I have to admit I was worried about eating this but I came through OK. Chicken is considered a luxury meat and is more expensive than beef. One Ethiopian friend was surprised to hear that in the West chicken is generally cheaper than beef.

Ethiopian booze is pretty good too. Tej is a delicious honey wine and tella is a barley beer. They also make several brands of lager and one of stout.

I’ve also spent time in the Somali region of Ethiopia and Somaliland. Living in arid lowlands rather than green and mountainous highlands, the Somalis have a very different cuisine than the Ethiopians. A surprising staple of Somali cooking is pasta. Actually on second thought it isn’t so surprising. The former Somalia was an Italian colony for a few decades. Italian food is popular in Eritrea and Ethiopia as well and makes for a refreshing change from local cuisine. Some Somalis are still pastoral nomads, moving through the arid countryside with their herds of camels and goats much like their ancestors did centuries ago. Pasta is a perfect food for nomads–compact, lightweight, nutritious, and easy to prepare.

The only downside to eating pasta in the Somali region is that Somalis, like most Africans, eat with their hand. I made quite a fool of myself trying to eat spaghetti with my hand!

%Gallery-136247%Goat is a popular meat in the Somali region and is served in a variety of ways. I love a good goat and have eaten it in a dozen countries. It’s tricky to cook, though, and can easily be overdone and end up stringy and flavorless. Good goat, however, is one of the best meats around. For some expert opinion, check out Laurel Miller’s fun post on the cultural aspects of eating goat.

While goat is the main meat for Somalis, what they really like is camel. These ships of the desert are expensive, so camel meat is usually reserved for special occasions like weddings. Wealthy, urban professionals eat it fairly regularly, though. At the Hadhwanaag Restaurant and Hotel in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, expert chefs slow-cook goat and camel in clay ovens that look much like tandoori ovens. The meat comes out deliciously tender and fragrant. Lunch at the Hadhwanaag was easily one of my top five meals in Africa.

Oh, and don’t forget Somali tea! A mixture of black tea, spices, and camel’s milk, it’s almost identical to Indian chai. The perfect pick-me-up after a long day seeing Somaliland’s painted caves or looking for your next edible ride at the camel market.

The Horn of Africa has an unfair reputation for warfare and famine. This is because it only gets on the news when something bad happens there. It makes a great adventure travel destination, though, and the determined traveler will find fascinating sights, friendly people, and great food. With any luck I’ll be back there in 2012!

10 unusual foods from around the world

Who doesn’t love trying new and exotic foods when traveling? Maybe some spicy curries in India, a selection of savory tapas in Spain, or some authentic…Pig’s Blood Cake? Check out this list of 10 unusual foods from around the world and see if your perspective on trying international cuisine doesn’t change.

Fried Tarantulas, Cambodia

According to Victoria Brewood at Bootsnall, you can find this delicacy in the streets of Sukon, Cambodia, fried whole with their legs, fangs, and all. Apparently, they taste great pan-fried with a pinch of garlic and salt and have a crispy outside and a gooey inside.

Pig’s Blood Cake, Taiwan

This unique dish is prepared with sticky rice and hot pig’s blood. When the mixture becomes solid it is coated with peanut powder and cilantro then formed into a flat cake and sliced. This meal is usually dipped in various sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, or soy sauce.Haggis, Scotland

This Scottish dish contains the internal organs of a sheep, including the liver, heart, and lungs. Mix this with some chopped onions, raw beef or mutton’s fat, salt, and spices. Once this is ready, you stuff it into a sheep intestine as sausage and simmer inside the animal’s stomach. Dinner will be ready in 3 hours!

Drunken Shrimp, China

When hearing the name of this dish, I had kind of hoped it was a cute play on words of some kind. In reality, the name should be taken very literally, as these are shrimp that are actually stunned with strong liquor and then consumed alive. Not shockingly, there have been some problems with this meal of uncooked seafood as there is the health risk of Paragonimiasis, a food-borne parasitic infection.

Live Octopus, Korea

I can’t help but think of Fear Factor as I write this entry. Sannakji, as it is known, is an octopus that is prepared and cut while still alive. It is served while still squirming, and should be chewed well as the suction of the tentacles can stick to the inside of your mouth and throat.

Silkworms, China

This insect is cultivated and bred in factories and sold in local markets for cooking. While you can prepare them anyway you like, popular silkworm dishes include Crispy Silkworms and Silkworm Kebabs.

Bear Claw Stew, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Soup made from the claws of bears is a delicacy in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and is literally sold for hundreds of dollars. The bear meat in the stew is actually believed to be a health and sexual-performance booster. According to nerdygaga.com as well as factsanddetails.com, environmentalists are protesting the practice of making bear claw stew, as bears are being tortured in front of diners before being cooked, as it is said to make the meat taste better.

Casu Marzu, Italy

This decomposing cheese made from sheep’s milk is, according to Alka Sharma of Environmental Graffiti, full of squirming white worms. Casu Marzu is made when the cheese fly lays its eggs, which is usually about 500 at one time, and the maggots that hatch eat their way through the cheese. Because the digestive system of the maggots breaks down the fat of the cheese, it gives it a very soft texture. The key to eating this unusual food is that it must be eaten while the maggots are still alive and wriggling, unless you want a bowl full of dead maggots (this, apparently, is considered unfit for consumption).

Ying Yang Fish, China

This fish is unlike most seafood delicacies, as it is half dead, half alive. While the top half of the fish is uncooked and moving, the bottom half is deep fried and covered in sweet and sour sauce.

Corn Fungus, Latin America

Also known as Corn Smut, this food, which looks very similar to grey brain matter, is a “pathogenic plant fungus that causes plant disease on maize (corn)” and is often used as filling for quesadillas. According to Martha Mendoza on MSNBC.com, Corn Smut is actually good for you, as it contains protein, minerals, and other nutritional values.