You can add a lot of interesting ingredients to beer, the possibilities for flavour are almost endless. But not every ingredient has to be about flavour, helping to preserve or anything particularly useful. In the expanding world of homebrew and craft beer people want their drinks to stand out, this leads to stuff like our Pale Unicorn Ale which has an approximately magical glitter. How this is achieved and what else you can do is a expanding topic so let’s break it down.
The first thing you have to remember is keep it food safe. Any addition to your homebrew must always be safe to consume, this applies to all parts. Some may use ingredients that may be harmful in large quantities but then you must also check it will not become harmful over a long time. In the case of a beer made for style it is really not worth ruining your brew just to look good. We love to develop interesting beers that no one else is doing but if they don’t taste good then what is the point? So always check what you are adding is safe, and even test it for what effect it has long term.
Another thing to check is if the ingredient is soluble. An insoluble ingredient is one that one be absorbed into the liquid, usually for homebrewers this is problem but here it is exactly what we want. If you added a load of glitter just to have it disappear in a weak there would be no point. So you generally want to avoid sugar based products. The other problem is that other insoluble crud may ruin the look. Most of the time it will settle or be hidden but still you may want to consider filtering your beer. It isn’t a bad thing to do anyway.
So what are some decorative ingredients you can add to your homebrew? As mentioned above our Pale Unicorn ale has a special ingredient that lets it sparkle, lustre dust. It is non soluble and food safe glitter mainly used for cakes and other confectionary, It can either be added when bottling or before drinking. A stranger example is occurring in a lot of American craft brewing. To appear more rustic and real many are attempting to make cloudier beers, the opposite of what homebrewers try to avoid. But many aren’t doing this naturally, in fact they add flower to their beer to simulate a mist of proteins. It is almost a parody of the hipster craft brewer, but it doesn’t harm the drink so if that is what you want to go for feel free to try it.
As homebrewing and craft brewers rise we will likely see more and more novelty beers. In an ever competitive market it becomes important to innovate it whatever way possible. It may see easy to roll your eyes at such thing but homebrewing is all about being creative and expressive. If it is safe and will last why not put it in and see the results? You might be surprised.