Anyone for chicken ale?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a beer mat, you may have noticed that the world’s third favourite drink, beer, is going through a transformative period. Tap rooms are replacing the traditional boozer and rather than having a pump with three almost identical lagers on tap many establishments are offering more and more bewildering arrays of beer.

To accommodate this, brewers are constantly coming up with new beers and sometimes this means reaching for some very odd ingredients indeed. There are beers made using rhubarb, whale blubber and even one using yeast harvested from a beard. But far from being a new trend, a glance at some of the annals of beer history suggest that there have always been a few wayward brewers bent on using strange ingredients…

One of my favourite old recipes is a 17th century one for “cock ale”. This rather rude-sounding beer was made using a whole male chicken. It is certainly unlike any recipe for beer that is in production today.

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