Homebrewer smokes a little Brood X to use in batch of beer

June 8, 2004 - Steve Marler, an Arlington, Va., homebrewer has made a 10-gallon batch of beer that includes smoked cicadas as an ingredient, and he plans to spend the next 17 years enjoying the beer.


"The hops will probably hide any cicada flavor," he told the Washington Post before brewing the beer.

"Totally hysterical ... you have to assume the determined brewer will follow through with any brewing threat, no matter how outrageous," was the reaction of Randy Mosher, author of the newly released "Radical Brewing," which is packed with offbeat recipes. This was one he missed.

"You have to admire the fearlessness of extreme homebrewers like Steve. Really elevates it to a different kind of art," Mosher said. "I've been rolling the idea around in my mind, trying to imagine what such a buggy beer would taste like. No weirder than oyster stout, I suppose, and that has been brewed for centuries."

Marler's recipe is something of a tribute to the Brood X 17-year cicada that emerged in May. The base beer is a barley wine and targeted it to 21 Plato (thus the final beer will be about 10.3% alcohol by volume) because the cicada Brood X will emerge again in 2021.

It is 87 IBUs to represent the last time the cicada emerged, and he used 17 hop additions in honor of the 17-year cicada cycle. He smoked the cicadas with apple wood chips and added them (about a quart) the mash.

"I hope that the cicadas will lend a slight smoke and or nut character to the beer, but time will tell," he wrote in an online forum. "I plan to drink a couple of bottles each year for the next 17 years. If nothing else it has created a lot of curiosity and discussion. But I also believe it will be a very tasty beer, and I have a lot of people who want to try it."