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Is the Next Big Thing Seaweed Beer?

kelpie Seaweed beer

New Zealand's craft beer enthusiasts and brewers are increasingly exploring innovative ingredients to enhance flavours and create unique drinking experiences.

So what about seaweed beer? One such ingredient gaining attention is seaweed, known for its ability to enrich the flavour profiles of beers with its distinct umami taste. Inspired by the success of Scotland based, Williams Bros Kelpie Ale (shown left). New Zealand could potentially revolutionise its artisanal beer scene by incorporating more local seaweed varieties like Karengo and Wakame, into ales.

Seaweed's natural glutamate content enhances the umami flavour, deepening complexity of beers, making them more savoury and enjoyable. This is particularly effective in stouts and IPAs, where the subtle sea-salt and briny nuances of seaweed can complement the traditional bitterness of the hops or the rich, dark malts of stouts. Using seaweed in beer not only diversifies its flavour but also aligns with sustainable brewing practices, given seaweed’s environmental benefits such as carbon absorption and water purification.

Heydat Beer Co Seaweed beer

Wellington based brewer, Heyday Beer Co has already experimented with a seaweed beer in concert with seaweed processor, Agrisea, based in Paeroa. (Shown right)

Beyond beer, seaweed's versatility in culinary applications is vast. It can be used to enhance the flavours of various dishes, from simple snacks like seaweed rice crackers to more complex meals like seaweed-infused soups and salads. The umami quality of seaweed makes it a favorite in vegan and vegetarian cuisine as well, providing a meaty flavour without the need for animal.

In terms of broader food uses, seaweed is employed in numerous innovative ways. It's used as a flavour enhancer in dishes where it pairs with ingredients providing textural contrast, such as Japanese sunomono salads, where its silky texture contrasts with crunchy vegetables. Additionally, seaweed is utilised in creating sustainable food products, such as biodegradable food packaging, reflecting its ecological and culinary versatility.

Japanese sunomono salad

Source: Photo 142963426 © Oksana Slepko Japanese sunomono salad

By harnessing the flavour-enhancing properties of seaweed, New Zealand could position itself as a leader in both sustainable brewing and culinary innovation, offering products not only tasty but also environmentally responsible. This could pave the way for the functional drinks category promoting good health, sustainability, as well as unique flavours.

For more information and connections CLICK Agrisea



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