Exotic Styles: The Cock Ale

Image from Ludacris' Chicken n Beer albumImage from Ludacris’ Chicken n Beer album

Here it is, the day after Thanksgiving where the even the best of gluttons have an overabundance of poultry but an underwhelming amount of beer.  Is it possible to rectify both these unfortunate situations in one move?  Not really.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about an exotic and archaic beer style that has fallen into obscurity; the Cock Ale.

This was an extremely interesting style that was popular in the 17th and 18th century in England.  Then arguably the beer capital of the world.  It appears that King William III  preferred this “pleasant drink, said to be provocative” over the more traditional drink of the upper classes, wine.

What distinguishes this style from others in the beer world?  Well namely how it is made.  Without giving too much away lets just jump into a recipe.

Take eight Gallons of Ale; take a Cock and boil him well; then take four pounds of Raisins of the Sun well stoned, two or three Nutmegs, three or four flakes of Mace, half a pound of Dates; beat these all in a Mortar, and put to them two quarts of the best Sack; and when the Ale hath done working, put these in, and stop it close six or seven days, and then bottle it, and a month after you may drink it.

You read that right.  Essentially you make a delicious English ale as one would normally, then you would parboil a chicken.  You would mash the finished chicken, add spices and fruits, combine all that in a porous sack and add it to the fermenter.  At over a week you would remove the sack, bottle your beer, and let it sit as normal.  Upon completion of your beer you have a mangled chicken and ingredients and an interesting flavored beer.

I can see why it was a style that was big with English high society.  I don’t see the lower classes being enthusiastic to waste a perfectly delicious chicken on a couple of gallons of beer.  Though I am curious what this beer might taste like and if I’m feeling adventurous in the near future might have to try this recipe in a home-brew adventure.

Source: wikipedia