Regular readers and friends know that I’m a tippler of some repute. I’ve written about beer and spirits before, but it’s been a while. High time for a potable post.
This is where beer snobbery meets the bizarre foods world. Not that the food I’m about to discuss is at all strange on its own, but together with beer? You be the judge, but let me whet your whistle with the most exclusive of beer styles — beer brewed with meat. Sound good? (Cue the gagging.)
I came across a tasty treat in the venerable tome, Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine, by William Carew Hazlitt (not that William Hazlitt; rather, his grandson) — cock ale. Yes, you read that right: cock ale. For audacious home-brewers, here’s the recipe:
To make Cock Ale: — Take ten gallons of ale, and a large cock, the older the better, parboil the cock, flea him, and stamp him in a stone mortar till his bones are broken, (you must craw and gut him when you flea him) put the cock into two quarts of sack [sherry], and put to it three pounds of raisins of the sun stoned, some blades of mace, and a few cloves; put all these into a canvas bag, and a little before you find the ale has done working, put the ale and bag together into a vessel; in a week or nine days’ time bottle it up, fill the bottles but just above the necks, and leave the same time to ripen as other ale. It sounds a bit like Dogfish Head’s Raison d’Être — with chicken bits floating in it. Notice there was no mention of straining or filtering the ale. And I don’t think parboiling would cut it with the FDA, do you? Mmmm, salmonella! :)
So that’s cock ale. The name sounds so dirty. As does another beer brewed with meat: oyster porter. Another relic of the 19th century. Yes, this is English porter brewed with oyster meat, or sometimes ground up oyster shells. Yum. Oysters, of course, and more specifically prairie oysters, are a euphemism in America for fried bull testicles. Goodness gracious, I can’t imagine going into the local organic market and telling the clerk I want cock and oysters! Oh, Shakespeare, come to my rescue: “I warrant / it had upon it brow, a bumpe as big as a young Cockrels / stone? A perilous knock, and it cryed bitterly.” 
Even worse — and believe me, I know I’m pushing my luck here — in the parlance of Hazlitt’s time, a cask of this ale could be referred to as “cock in a butt”. A butt is a cask for storing wine or ale, the source of the word butler. Jeeves, what have you been up to?! (Rest assured, I am properly ashamed of myself for this.)
Hazlitt’s cockbook — er, excuse me — cookbook is full of interesting tidbits like this. Just peruse the index, and before long, everything starts sounding dirty. A sampling of some of the more fetishistic-sounding dishes: Forced meat (p. 191), Jumbals (p. 128), Spread-eagle pudding (p. 114), White grease (p. 58), and what has to be my personal favorite: Rear-supper (p. 239, 242). God, I hope you are laughing at this …
Anyway, there you go: cock ale and oyster porter. Knock back a few of those, and I daresay the clothes are coming off. Just pray you don’t remember anything the next morning.
 William Carew Hazlitt. Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine. London: Elliot Stock, 1886, p. 152.
 Romeo and Juliet, I.iii.