I've heard this urban legend that when Guinness changed their brewing equipment at some point, people started to complain that the beer tasted worse. According to the legend, it turned out that before rats were getting into the barrels, drowned in them and thus gave Guinness its "unique flavour".

That legend aside (although I would also be interested to hear opinions on that), are there any beers that are deliberately brewed with meat or meat products? What does adding meat to the brewing process achieve?

  • 1
    About a year ago I got to drink a rocky mountain oyster stout in a Denver bar. It was a limited time brew made with bull testicles. Good stuff, if you don't think too hard on the ingredients. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 4:25
  • If mice get into the malt sacks in the brewery, they may end up getting mashed in. They would however get filtered out with the spent grain before the beer is boiled, hopped, chilled, and packaged.
    – Robert
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 3:49
  • @Robert: You would have to show that mashing a mouse cannot result in any particles of size sufficiently small to pass through said filters. So while you might not get a mouse tail in your glass this filter doesn't necessarily rule out all potential effects of mashed mouse body tissues and fluids on final beer flavour. Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 4:11

4 Answers 4


Bacon Beer

I've heard of beers made with rauchmalt - smoked malt, where the brewer has "dry hopped" with bacon or bacon flavored soya to give the beer a bacon flavor and aroma - allowing the bacon and the smoked malt to enhance each other. One commercial example is Bacon Maple Ale from Rogue, which features a variety of smoked malts (over different woods) plus applewood smoked bacon.

Cock Ale

Here is a recipe for ale made with chicken broth:

PERIOD: England, 17th century | SOURCE: The Closet Of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digby Kt. Opened, 1677 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: A drink of ale, chicken broth, & sack

To make Cock-Ale.

Take eight gallons of Ale, take a Cock and boil him well; then take four pounds of Raisins of the Sun well stoned, two or three Nutmegs, three or four flakes of Mace, half a pound of Dates; beat these all in a Mortar, and put to them two quarts of the best Sack: and when the Ale hath done working, put these in, and stop it close six or seven days, and then bottle it, and a month after you may drink it.

And PS: the Guinness meat story because of finding rats in the fermentation tanks or barrels is a myth. Or to put it another way, even if it did ever did happen once, it's not practiced now. It's hard enough for bacteria to get into the fermentation tanks or barrels, let alone something as big as a rat! (Nowadays they use stainless or aluminum kegs.)

  • I tried finding references for bacon beer, but came up empty. I'll add if some turn up.
    – mdma
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 18:55
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    Rogue has one, if it helps. rogue.com/beers/voodoo-bacon-maple.php
    – Xander
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 19:09
  • Thanks! I hope you don't mind I add this to my answer.
    – mdma
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 19:21
  • Not at all, cheers.
    – Xander
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 20:06
  • My first thought was of cock ale also. Fascinating the stuff I learned in the history section of my high school's library. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 13:46

Another example is oyster stout. While some breweries today use the name for beers that don't contain oysters, it was originally brewed with oysters. It seems that the style grew out of the popular food pairing of stout and oysters, leading to attempts to combine the two, starting in New Zealand in 1929.

One example of a modern brewery using oysters is Porterhouse Brewing Company in Ireland. More information on the style can be found in this article.


Guinness, in common with some other beers, does actually involve a meat product in the brewing process, specifically the swim bladders of fish. This substance is not nominally retained in the final beverage.

  • Isinglass is a kind of fining for clarifying the beer - it's one of several kinds - there are also non-animal derived finings. Do you know for sure that isinglass is used in Guinness? If they do use it, do they have to put anything on the packaging to indicate it's made with animal products?
    – mdma
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:35
  • I asked a question about isinglass use: beer.stackexchange.com/questions/583/…
    – mdma
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:50

A recent release by an Icelandic brewery actually contains whale meat, and inevitably this has been quite controversial! Whale Meat Beer From Icelandic Brewery Stirs Up Controversy, Outrages Conservationists.

I'd like to try it myself but it's not for export and the only way I could afford to get to Iceland anytime soon would be canoe. Seems a bit chilly out for that, though.

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