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Beer

Whale vomit beer could be the next big thing

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This murky beer has secret ingredient from the sea. (Robe Town Brewing)

From belly-button lint to sewer waste water, we’ve seen our fair share of unusual-- and pretty grimy-- beer additives.

But a new ale from a team of Australian brewers may be one of the most unusual—and unpalatable. 

Moby Dick Ambergris Ale from Robe Town Brewery is brewed with a “pungent, musky substance” called ambergris, which also known as “whale vomit,” reports Australia’s ABC.net.

To those unfamiliar with whales, ambergris is a solid waxy material which scientists believe is formed in the intestines of sperm whales. It is said to aid in digestion but when the animal dies, it’s regurgitated into the ocean. Since it’s only available once the creature is no longer living and seldom washes up on shore, it’s very expensive—a one pound piece sold for $63,000 back in 2012.

In medieval times, the substance was used for medicinal purposes. Today, perfumers use it to enhance scents and give them staying power. Ambergris is also said to have boast an aphrodisiac quality.

So why use it in beer?

 "When I heard that ambergris was used in the perfume industry, I thought 'I wonder if that could be used to flavor or spice up a beer'," Maris Biezaitis, one of the brewer’s behind Moby Dick, told ABC.net.

A few years ago, Biezaitis  says some friends found a 400-gram lump of ambergris on a nearby beach. That inspired the brewer to add a little “zing” to a new ale.

"It was a relatively fresh piece, quite a smelly piece, so it was airing and curing in the backyard before I got hold of it."

He extracted the aroma by soaking small sections in alcohol. The result was a
“musky tincture” that he added to an amber ale during the bottling process. 

The brew was created as a special edition for a beer festival in Melbourne, Australia earlier this month. It appeared alongside the infamous Belly Button Beer in which brewer's used human belly button lint as yeast. 

But is this perfectly perfumed whale ale worth the swig?

"It tastes a little bit like the sea, it tastes a little bit like marine animals. It's really interesting I think," co-brewer Kristi Biezaitis admitted.

Others describe it as “surprisingly sweet” but some tasters were reportedly disgusted.

Though ambergris is relatively hard to come by, Biezaitis says Robe Town plans to brew a bigger batch since they have plenty of the pungent tincture left.