Aug. 24 2017 11:31 AM

Field Beers

This beer trend might be the beginning of healthier beers

Beer and health aren’t typically thought of together, but the relatively new trend of vegetables used in beer production might change all that. Who could have thought that getting your servings of veggies could come from your daily brew. For years, fruit has been a common addition to beer because the flavor of hops and fruit, particularly berries and citrus, tend to work well together. But as brewers begin to experiment and put their stamp on the industry, rather unconventional pairings are starting to emerge.

A vegetable beer is classified as such when the brewer uses veggies as an adjunct, added to either the mash or during the primary or secondary fermentation stages in brewing. The vegetable flavor within a veggie beer can range from subtle to strong, but most beers in this category don’t have an overpowering vegetable taste or aroma of the used vegetable, as to not outshines the hop flavors within the beer.

One event that defined and expanded the use of vegetables within the beer making process was the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. A new style of beer was added to the competition callled field beer, or beer with veggies added. Breweries across the nation experimented with beers and brewing styles specifically to enter this new category. While fruit beers often have their own category in competitions and shows, the use of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices in brewing can put a beer into the field category.

Many brewers started adding veggies during autumn; pumpkin beers were acknowledged as the first beers in the veggie/field beer movement, despite the fact that pumpkins are, in fact, fruit.

The pumpkin is so prominently used in brewing that in many beer competitions, pumpkin beers often have their own category. Other veggies that brewers have used in this field beers are chili peppers, like in the Sriracha Hot Stout by Rogue Ales, and roots, like beets, and peas can also be used. One good example of a “root beer” is Clobberskull by Bear Republic Brewing Co. Some field beers try to mimic food pairings like tomatoes and herbs for a “pizza beer.”

Here in Lansing, veggie beers haven’t made their debut on the scene quite as heavily as in other cities across the U.S., but our city has certainly dabbled. Midtown Brewing Co. seems to be leading the pack with its Imperial Pumpkin Cream Ale. Using the flavors from pumpkin and spice from other flavors of the season, Midtown claims that this brew is the closest thing to getting pumpkin pie in a bottle.

As fall approaches, be on the lookout for other local breweries and brewers creating their own concoctions.