Strange Brews

America's Strange—and Strangely Delicious—Brews


Photo: Craft Cans

Every blue moon, I pull on a pair of pants and work in an office in Midtown Manhattan as a copy editor. When I was a young, struggling writer, an aptitude with punctuation and proper spelling helped keep me fiscally afloat as I sent my stories into the ether, praying that someone would pay me pennies for my words. Thankfully, those days are (mostly) behind me, though I will occasionally work an in-office job. It's not so much for the money as it is for camaraderie, of talking to someone besides my pooch, Sammy.

When I'm working in Midtown, I like to treat myself to a fiery, numbing Sichuan lunch from Szechuan Gourmet. It's one of New York's more dependable spots to grab some ma po tofu, that mix of silken tofu and crumbled pork in a blood-red bath of incendiary oil. It is singularly awesome. very few people in my office agree.  "It sounds like a dare," a coworker said, moving her chair back a few inches. "It's not a dare," I said. "It's daringly delicious."

I did not convince her to go in on the order with me, but hopefully I can convince you try a few of these daring beers. Today, brewers are digging ever deeper into their spice cabinets to dredge up ingredients that sound like a punishment worthy of a Fear Factor contestant: spirulina, bhut jolokia peppers, even bull testicles.

Yup, it'll take some balls to drink these beers, but the payoff is in the flavor. Behold, my first tale for Bon Appétit, "Strange Brew." Drink it up!