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Spirulina-Enriched Blue Beer

Simone Jonker worked in NTD Inspired for two years. She wrote light articles and inspiring stories.
Published: February 10, 2022
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With the popularity of craft brewers came an increasingly wider variety of unusual ales. One brewer recently introduced a Spirulina-enriched blue beer. (Image: Rojer via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Craft beers have become increasingly popular in recent years and come in a range of flavors, colors, and styles. Consumers have more options than they have ever had before. The new kid on the block is a spirulina-enriched blue beer. 

The “Line” beer is one of many products produced by Hoppy Urban Brew, (La Brasserie HUB.) The brewery specializes in craft beers and is based in the city of Roubaix, northern France. Blue beer was the brainchild of a present day French brewer. He came up with the idea after experimenting with a naturally occurring pigment called phycocyanin. The blue-green pigment found in spirulina algae tints the beverage blue during the brewing process.

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Spirulina is a photosynthetic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that inhabits tropical bodies of water, and gets its energy and food from sunlight and carbon dioxide just like plants do. Because it is so rich in protein, minerals and vitamins, it is often used as a food supplement. (Image: DanielaC173 via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

The brewery and the firm Etika Spirulina, developed a cooperative collaboration to differentiate their products while also highlighting the health advantages of Spirulina. The result was pleasantly surprising in more ways than one.

With regards to the flavor of Blue beer, Employee Mathilde Vanmansart said that the blue brew tasted “hoppy, light, with fruity notes,” while noting that the only indication that algae had been added was its unusual hue.

Spirulina  and phycocyanin

Spirulina algae belongs to the genus Arthrospira. The algae is found in alkaline ponds, lakes, and saline basins of coastal areas. It contains a powerful plant-based protein called phycocyanin

Spirulina is believed to be one of the earliest forms of life on Earth. Known since ancient times as an energy booster, it is now widely regarded as a superfood

The Mexican Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures harvested spirulina from warm bodies of still water, including Lake Texcoco. Called tecuitlatl, it is reported to have been used by them to energize their runners as well as to heal a variety of ailments in their day.

Men and women of the Kanembu tribe in Chad, Africa, consume spirulina as a big part of their diet to this day. The Kanembu people have been harvesting these blue-green algae since the 9th century, with the native peoples calling it, dihé. This nutrient-rich indigenous variety of the algae is harvested by women on the shores of Lake Chad.

In 2010, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations stated that dihé could be important in the fight against malnutrition all over the world. Spirulina farming facilities are now found all over the world, including California, France, Hawaii, Germany, India, and China.

Spirulina is particularly popular among vegetarians since it is one of few plant-based sources of vitamin B12, which is generally derived from animal products such as meat, fish, and eggs.

Spirulina is widely accessible as a dietary supplement at health food stores and natural food stores, where it can be purchased in the form of tablets, powder, or flakes. The flavor, which ranges from seaweedy to spinachy, or even flavorless in the case of blue spirulina, is frequently enhanced with the use of yogurt, juice, smoothies, or other foods.

Fun fact: NASA included spirulina in the meals of astronauts in space since it helped in the recuperation process following space missions.

In addition to lowering blood pressure and preventing cancer, Spirulina consumption has been proven to treat autoimmune diseases and offer an ongoing source of amino and protein acids. It contains 10 vitamins, 8 minerals, and 18 amino acids, including vitamins; Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2,) Niacin (vitamin B3), Copper, and Iron; thus making for an extremely powerful dietary supplement- particularly a recovery supplement for post-workout replenishing. 

Among the many benefits of this mineral are the increased production of white blood cells, antibodies, and anti-inflammatory antioxidants. These antioxidants may help alleviate pollen, animal hair, and dust allergies. Research also reveals that spirulina is high in zeaxanthin, a plant pigment that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. On top of that, it’s antimicrobial! In one trial, spirulina-enhanced oral mouthwash, and lowered the risk of plaque and gingivitis formation. 

Laboratory studies show that spirulina may fight herpes, flu, and HIV — though much more research is needed to test these effects in humans.

Spirulina Side Effects

Because spirulina in any form is  rich in many nutrients, it is recommended to consult your doctor before using it. 

Demand for spirulina-enhanced blue beer  

Xavier Delannoy, whose farm supplies the spirulina, said that 1,500 bottles of the blue beer were sold, just between the months of  October and December of last year. The brewery is now amping up production to meet the increasing demand for the new beverage. 

Craft brewers

Generally speaking, craft brewers are small independent brewers, and usually can be distinguished by their willingness to experiment and try new things. Using their own particular tweaks on traditional beer styles, and being a small business, they have the freedom to produce totally new flavors quite frequently. Odds are, there is a craft brewer near you – many of which help sponsor themselves through community events such as volunteering, fairs and sponsoring events. 

Grow your own spirulina 

First and foremost, spirulina is a water-algae, which means one will have to cultivate it not on land, but in a water-filled container or pool of some sort. If you live in a home with any amount of property, an old pool could be placed outside- depending on the amount desired.

The algae grows in warm lakes with a pH of over 7, but can also be found in saltwater and hot springs. It has been known to survive in alkaline solutions under other optimal conditions. Outside its normal warm environment, ensure that it’s grown in water with a pH between 8 and 10.