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Is Whale Vomit the Next Big Craft Beer Trend?

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Let's hope not

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From pumpkin to mouth-searing chiles, there's no shortage of gimmicks in the beer industry. But the latest flavoring to hit the craft brew industry might make you more nauseous than thirsty. ABC South East SA reports that a team of South Australian brewers have debuted Moby Dick Ambergris Ale, so-named for its use of ambergris — more commonly known as whale vomit.

The substance is thought to form in the intestines of sperm whales as a means of aiding in digestion. It is eventually excreted (or regurgitated) into the ocean once the whale dies, where it hardens over time. Gross? Sure, but ambergris is highly valued — and, obviously, pretty hard to come by. In 2012, National Geographic reported that an eight-year-old boy in the UK found a one-pound piece of ambergris worth some $63,000.

The pricey ingredient has its fans in America, too. At acclaimed New York restaurant Betony, at least one cocktail incorporates the pricey whale waste, though the trend hasn't hit the mainstream quite yet.

Ambergris Ale was crafted especially for a craft beer festival in Melbourne earlier this month, though the couple behind it say they have plans (and enough leftover ambergris) to brew a larger batch. As for how it tastes, one of the brewers called its flavor "challenging," telling ABC South East SA, "it tastes a little bit like the sea," and "a little bit like marine animals." Yum.

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