Durian might be the world’s most intriguing fruit. Its scent is so pungent it has the power to evacuate entire buildings. But despite (or maybe in part because of) its odor, the fruit is also a beloved delicacy that’s been added as a topping at local Pizza Huts and kicked around as a possible Kit Kat flavor. And a brewery in Australia recently made durian the signature ingredient in its newest beer.
Debuting this past weekend at Melbourne’s Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, one of the country’s premier beer festivals, Durian Durian was a durian-enhanced “funky saison” from Brunswick’s Foreigner Brewing Company. The brewery said that the “controversial” fruit was added in the hopes of imbuing the beer with “a tropical fruit character.” Foreigner’s Peter Denison reportedly said he believed the durian’s subtle sweet and savory notes would work well with the dry, spicy flavors of a saison.
Like many beer festivals, the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular has a reputation for letting brewers experiment, so the event created the possibility for a receptive audience, but overall, it appears this durian beer didn’t quite manage to impress… possibly because it wasn’t intense enough. “Doesn't really taste of durian; that's good,” wrote Twitter user Sam Fletcher. “Doesn't taste of much else; that's bad.”
— Sam Fletcher (@LaitueGonflable) May 19, 2018
A similar sentiment could be found on the beer rating app Untappd where with 166 ratings, the brew managed to haul in a not-particularly-strong 3.06 out of 5 rating. “Very saison-y but surprisingly not getting the durian,” wrote one user. “Not enough durian, too much banana,” wrote another. Even the drinkers who were picking up on the durian weren’t particular in love with the final product. “Tastes like Durian,” wrote user James B., “but it's a bit bland as a farmhouse.”
Speaking of Untappd, a search on the app’s website shows that, though durian beers are rare, brews with the stinky fruit have been tried before. (Though apparently not on a large scale: With 184 check-ins, Durian Durian is the most tasted durian beer on the app.)
Even some big names have given durian a try. Back in 2014, California’s The Bruery offered a version of its Hottenroth Berliner Weisse spiked with a bit of durian. More recently, Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing has served its own Saison Durian. A handful of breweries have released durian IPAs, and the fruit has also been experimented with on styles as far ranging as kolsch and Belgian dubbel. However, one thing all the beers have in common is that none of them have very strong user reviews. Maybe a fruit that smells like gym socks just isn’t meant for making good beer?