Beer with superfoods: Dr Jekyll's adds twist to the US craft beer market

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Dr Jekyll's launched in California last year
Dr Jekyll's launched in California last year
Ale with gingko leaves, walnut oil, hawthorne berry, and even garlic: a group of Californian entrepreneurs are mixing beer with superfoods in their brand Dr. Jekyll’s. 

Craft beer keeps attracting consumers, the organic sector has grown, and interest in superfoods continues to soar – bring these factors together and the time is right for the ‘truly odd, yet oddly delicious’​ drink, the brand tells BeverageDaily.com.

The organic beers get their distinctive flavors and aromas from a carefully crafted collection of superfoods and the company believes it is the first to successfully mix essential oils with beer. 

hawthorne berry
Hawthorne berry

Flax seed oil, blueberries, maqui berry…

Tom Costa, co-founder, told BeverageDaily.com consumers are increasingly thirsty for different, innovative craft beverages. They are also more conscious of the health halo around superfoods, he added.

Each beer has its own name and theme, set of superfood ingredients, and donates to a specific charitable organisation. A beer contains six to eight superfoods, designed to complement each other.

Take for example the upcoming Beer Brains: ‘a nut brown ale, mildly hopped, brewed with honey with notes of almond and banana'. ​Ingredients include walnut oil, gingko leaves, flax seed oil, blueberries, pomegranate, and acai berry. Beer Brain’s charitable organization is the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Then there’s Beer Attack: a ‘smooth Irish style Red Ale hand crafted in small batches boasting the finest organic Perle and Fuggle hops along with malts​.’ Its superfoods include cinnamon oil, garlic, hawthorne berry, maqui berry, algal oil and flax seed oil.

Superfoods continue to grow in popularity, with consumers more and more interested in their attributes. Then there's a booming craft beer market and thriving organic sector, co-founder Tom Costa told BeverageDaily.com.

“10 years ago it would have been too soon,” ​he said. “Now​, the organic market, the craft beer market - they’re both high growth and we’ve combined that into a product.

“10 years ago, 15 years ago, people were not nearly as educated as now on food groups and superfoods. And it’s the same with organic beer.”

tumeric
Tumeric: another Dr Jekyll's ingredient

Mixing oil with water

But don’t superfoods add a high price?

“The price is very reasonable; we wanted to make it approachable. Yes, the ingredients add a little cost, but the main cost is in organic,” ​said Costa.

“We’re not marketing it to people who are drinking mass produced beers from large breweries. We’re between middle and high [price range] and we’re not alone in that category.

Dr. Jekyll’s worked in conjunction with Californian biotech and life sciences firm VIRUN to create the beers, the most significant advance being to combine essential oils with beer – basically mixing oil with water.

“We think about what would be a good base beer, and what would be some of the superfoods that would work with that,” ​said Costa.  “From that point it’s more like being a chef; what ingredients would work and complement each other for aroma and taste. Then it’s trial by error. We do a lot of pilots, some come out great, some don’t.

“Having essential oils as ingredients makes for an all-round, superior product. We’re the first doing that and adding these superfoods in a specific way. No one else is doing that, so by these accounts, we’re cutting edge in beer.”

Flavor and aroma

The beers entered the Californian market in October last year and are retailed in Whole Foods Market.  

“These superfoods – some of them more so than others – the flavor and aroma really comes out,” ​said Costa. “We want that in some cases, and in others it’s more subdued. It’s definitely about creating an unique flavor and aroma and profile – we’re not just putting superfoods into beers, it’s a balancing act.

“You want the superfood to create a complex beer with an unique aroma, it’s no different to [other craft beverages] adding vanilla or juniper berries, they’re also trying for a certain flavour, aroma, and profile.”

The biggest challenge for the brand has been getting the relevant government approvals for each beverage - a process that takes time, Costa said.

Having set itself the ambition of launching a new product every six months, the company is tackling this by planning ahead and submitting batches of several products, rolling them out when desired. 

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