I could answer the question “why brew with woodlice?” with another question. Why not? I could but that would be stupid. Most people could instantly think of several good reasons why not. Woodlice are ugly, creepy-crawly, little prehistoric throwbacks which live under rocks amidst detritus and decay. If Wikipedia is to be believed they also taste of strong urine. If this is case the people who are seen enjoying potted woodlouse here must be urolagnic or have no sense of taste. They claim woodlice taste of prawns. I am yet to try a cooked woodlouse. Given what Wikipedia say about it, it seems strange that I’ve not yet found the time.
|Here's one watching TV with my kitten|
The other aspect of using living things for brewing with is one of conscience. Although dirty-looking and not the kind of thing you would like curled up on your lap of an evening, the woodlouse does fulfil at role in the ecosystem. They are perhaps more worthy of a place in this world than the guests on an episode of Jeremy Kyle or indeed the host and counseling team. To that end I have, for the last few months set up and ran a woodlouse sanctuary (hospice) where all their needs are catered for until they shuffle of this mortal coil. Once expired they have been cryogenically-stored (put in my freezer) until their big day in the Honest Brew Brewery.
Woodlice, like all animals are made of carbohydrate, protein and lipids. They will therefore enrich the wort with fermentables, free amino nitrogen and trace elements which could be used in yeast metabolism. I’m hoping that bearing in mind the strong urine reference above they may act like the fish sauce in Thai cooking. Fish sauce smells like something unmentionable suffering from something even more unmentionable on its own but adds real depth and breadth to Thai curries.
I will add the crustaceans to the boil as a powder so we get a good degree of dissolution. They should dissolve completely by the end of the boil. As well as the novelty of seeing woodlice beer being brewed those who come along to the event will get to try some of my short run beers, some beers from the brilliant Franciscan Well brewery in Cork and will get a full-on super involved rant/lecture about what we are actually doing on a scientific/technical level and why. You will get to ask me questions, argue with me, insult me and finally expose me as the fraud you know I am. I hope you can join us.
I am transporting all of the water for the brew up from my sand, GAC, RO and salt-adjusting treatment system in Cornwall because the local mains water is a bit crap. More details about the recipe and desired outcome will almost certainly follow.