Rebellion Brewing didn’t know what to think last year when AGT Foods and Ingredients approached it about making a beer with lentils, but it was intrigued.
“We did a lot of research on it, what we could find, and there wasn’t much done with lentils in regards to beer … anywhere in North America or the world for that matter,” said Jamie Singer, president and brew master of the Regina brewery.
AGT came up with the idea of bringing beer and lentils together because it wanted to develop more interesting and innovative food products using pulses.
“I think it’s through innovative and cool projects like the Lentil Cream Ale with Rebellion that hopefully is going to raise the profile of lentils from Saskatchewan,” said Omer Al-Katib, director of corporate affairs and investor relations at AGT.
The United Nations declared 2016 as International Year of Pulses and having a greater variety of pulse products on the market, even in beer, is one of the goals for the year.
AGT provided Rebellion with its King Red lentils, and after a few test batches the brewer found the right recipe with 20 percent of lentils mixed with malt barley.
The light beer has four percent alcohol content, has a pale straw colour and a haze from the proteins in the lentils.
“It’s got that sort of nutty earthy taste some would say is a result of the yeast in conjunction with the lentils themselves while also giving out a bit of a citrus-like flavour in addition to the earthiness,” Singer said.
Rebellion launched its Lentil Cream Ale Nov. 4 at Louis’ Pub on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Distribution is currently limited to the pub and the brewery in Regina.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback, not only from the people drinking it here but from even the rural community, the farmers that actually produce this,” Singer said.
“There’s several that are coming in here and saying, ‘hey, when can we get this out in our area?’ ”
One of the goals for the Canadian committee organizing events for International Year of Pulses 2016 is to encourage consumers and food processors to think of pulses not only as a whole food in soups or stews but also as an ingredient. Pulses can be milled to produce flour and further processed into components such as protein.
The committee is planning a Pulse Ingredients Workshop Series.
The first part, called Practical Use of Pulses in Healthy Foods, will be held in Winnipeg April 26-28.
“The first part of this training series we’re doing is at (the Canadian International Grains Institute) and it will be teaching the participants on the various ways of milling pulses,” said Allison Ammeter, Canadian chair of International Year of Pulses 2016.
“There are several different methods you can use in order to get what you want from the pulse flour.”
On Sept. 21-23, POS Bio-Sciences and the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre will host sessions on how to get pulses into various products.
The committee hopes that educating food processors on these topics will increase domestic demand for pulses.
“So for Canada to find a new use for lentils, it translates right down to the growers who are growing them,” Ammeter said.
“It’s got to impact our prices and the availability of our agronomics as we get greater demand.”