Now on Tap: Beer Brewed with Zebra Mussels and Milfoil

The following article is from the Star Tribune of Minneapolis

Lake Minnetonka, MN—November 22, 2014—Saving Minnesota lakes from pesky zebra mussels might just be a pint away. On Lake Minnetonka, Excelsior Brewing Co., just launched an ale made from zebra mussel shells and Eurasian milfoil — taken fresh out of the big lake. That’s right, a keg of aquatic invasive species.

“Whenever people talk about it they say, ‘What, really?’’” said John Paul Awad, one of the brewery’s leaders. “We’ve had some raised eyebrows and people really skeptical about it. We wanted to push the envelope with this one.”

Touting it as a way to save the lake from “aquatic hitchhikers,” the brewery just started pouring the Milfoil Lakehouse Saison Ale with its “exotic, invasive flavor.” It’s all local, with Minnetonka honey, local hops, Minnesota wild rice — and a dash of those lake pests.

The novel, bizarre ingredients even surprised state officials Friday.

“To my knowledge, I haven’t heard of it,” said Heidi Wolf of the Department of Natural Resources about using zebra mussels and milfoil in recipes. “It sounds really unusual.”

Experts say fingernail-sized zebra mussels are edible but can accumulate pollutants because they are filter feeders, so federal agencies don’t recommend people eat them. But Awad said they used minuscule amounts of the milfoil and zebra mussels’ shells — all the meat from the tiny shells was taken out — cooking and boiling them. And as part of the filtering process, beer drinkers won’t have to fear finding any trace of the ingredients in their glass.

“Neither of them add a lot of flavor; it’s more of the novelty of it,” Awad said.

Read the entire article here.


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