Is durian with beer dangerous?

A microbrewery in Singapore begs to disagree as it uses the popular Mao Shan Wang variety for a unique and refreshing ale

durian beer musang king ale

Growing up in the Philippines, we are often warned not to consume durian with beer because it is supposedly fatal. While there is no scientific evidence to back that belief,  researchers believe the combination can wreak havoc on our body because it  slows down our metabolism; this group from Japan’s University of Tsukuba has identified a sulfur compound called Diethyl Disulfide as the culprit.

But why leave it to laboratory scientists to find out if mixing durian with beer can kill you, when there are ordinary people just as capable of searching for the truth?

At the 2018 GABS Festival in Melbourne, an Australian brewer created a saison (highly carbonated, fruity and spicy) pale ale with durian as the main ingredient. (He is still alive.)

Last year, Fulbright scholar and UP Mindanao professor Kriza Calumba formulated a probiotic beer using the rind of durian. (She is still waiting for funding to make this a reality).

Most recently, a microbrewery in Singapore released the Musang King Ale. The craft beer includes the yellow flesh of one of the fruit’s more popular varieties, the Mao Shan Wang, in the entire fermenting process. (A Musang King cocktail made with durian purée and vodka is also being offered at the local Andaz hotel).

“Our motivation is to create beers for the Asian palate; hence it is important to include the taste profiles of Asian food fare as part of the considerations when we design our beers,” the 1925 Brewing Co said on its Facebook page.

The Musang King Ale has a 5% ABV and is available on tap and in a bottle. It was made in collaboration with Durian Edition, a grower and importer of durian that also runs D.Lab, which sells durian products like cheesecake and mooncakes. In fact, the 1925 Brewing Co recommends pairing its durian beer with cheesecake or nasi lemak.

So is durian beer something that can also be replicated in the Philippines? “It can be done, but it depends on the availability of the ingredient. Right now, durian can only be sourced from Davao,” says Kevin Khoe, co-owner of Baguio Craft Brewery.

In the meantime, while we wait for international travel to resume, there are other fruit-based beers to enjoy.  “In our case, we source ingredients that’s available in our area, and so we have our strawberry, mango and even Sagada orange beer,” adds Khoe. Perhaps a quick drive up to Baguio is in order?

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