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Savory suds? Pickle flavored-beer makes a sour splash in the Midwest

by Aly Walansky / / Source: TODAY

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Between pickle ice pops, spears marinated in fruit punch, and even pickle soda, pickles are having a major moment in the food world.

One of the latest, and more interesting, incarnations of the growing movement to pickle absolutely everything is a dill pickle beer, created by Minnesota's Barley John's Brewing Company — and it's getting plenty of attention at the Minnesota State Fair.

The Dill Pickle Ale is described by Eater as a "light, American-style ale" that's been "dry hopped with fresh dill, horseradish, and spices.”

Before we judge the seemingly unusual combination of pickle brine and alcohol, let's take a second to reassess our feelings: don’t we love pickleback shots? That’s just whiskey chased with pickle brine, of course. And consider dirty martinis — that's just vodka or gin with extra olive juice. Olives are generally brined, as well. So a pickle beer may just be a logical extension of the popularity of savory, briny drink combinations.

But how did this sour sipper come to be?

"The Dill Pickle Ale base is our year round Little Barley Session Ale," John Moore, owner of Barley John's told TODAY Food over email. "Giggles Campfire Grill asked us to make a dill pickle beer for the state fair. A few weeks of recipe work brought us to the Little Barley dry hopped with dill, horseradish and spices," he added.

But not everyone was sold on the idea of the new brew. "When Giggles first asked me to do this and I shared the request with others, they all raised the eyebrow. A dill pickle beer? Really?" Moore said. "I wanted the beer to be a beer first, not a flavored concoction 'fruit punch' beverage. We wanted an awesome beer you could drink several of and still not get tired of the flavor.

"This kept us a away from just dumping pickle juice in the beer or getting out of control with too much dill and flavors."

So will we be seeing pickle beer at breweries nationwide?

Moore says the company is "rolling the idea around" of bringing the beer beyond the fair, but added that it's not necessarily an easy undertaking. "Dill is really hard to get out of draft lines. Just like root beer, you would need a designated line."

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