Slowly but surely, the public is awakening to the value of Asian carp as food.
And what possibly could go better with a carpburger than mussel beer?
More specifically, a Milfoil Lakehouse Saison Ale, brewed with zebra mussel shells and Eurasian watermilfoil by Excelsior Brewing Co. on Lake Minnetonka. The beer with the “exotic, invasive flavor” is promoted as a way to heighten public awareness about the problems caused by exotic species.
This past fall, Grumpy’s Limited Action Beer Fest challenged breweries to develop beer using only Minnesota ingredients, and Excelsior decided it wanted to push the envelope. It blended Minnesota wild rice, Minnetonka honey, and local hops with a small dollop of aquatic hitchhikers.
“We thought, ‘We’re going to take this to the extreme,’” said Paul Awad, a spokesman for the brewery. “It ended up being a really great beer.”
He explained that only tiny amounts of milfoil and mussel shells were used, and filtering prevents beer drinkers from finding a trace of the ingredients in their glasses. “Neither of them adds a lot of flavor. It’s more the novelty of it,” he said, adding that the brew tastes like many Saisons, with fruity, spicy overtones.
Ryan Anderson from MNbeer.com wasn’t particularly surprised by the mussel/milfoil beer. “There are some breweries out there trying some crazy things,” he said.
For example, seaweed as an added ingredient is becoming more common, while other micro breweries are trying things like fish bladders and oyster shells.
“It’s definitely a kind of interesting thing,” he said of the Excelsior beer. “But stranger things have happened.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources said the exotic brew “sounds really unusual.”
Before this latest offering, Excelsior already created beers that honored its lakeside location, including Big Island Blond Ale. Additionally, 1 percent of its profits support the popular fishery via donations to organizations such as the Freshwater Society.
Meanwhile, in the Cafeteria . . .
The University of Missouri is testing recipes and gathering reactions as it considers adding the invasive Asian carp to the menu in its dining halls.
About 40 students tried different recipes using the fish during recent taste tests at the Sabai Culinary Development Kitchen on the Missouri campus, and their reactions will help the culinary staff decide whether to serve the fish.