Hugues Derzelle, a cattle breeder from Chimay, Belgium, believes that one of the secrets to great tasting, marbled beef could be beer, so for the past few months he has been giving some of his cows four liters of dark beer every day.
Derzelle says he came up with the idea after reading that Japanese Kobe beef producers massage their cows, play them soothing music and give them beer to drink. A quick Google search reveals that this is nothing but a myth, albeit a very popular one, but that doesn’t seem to have mattered very much to the Belgian breeder. Since November, he has been treating two of his cows to four liters of local Sara de Silenrieux dark beer, in the hopes that it would improve the marbling of their meat as well as the taste.
Photo: La Nouvelle Gazette
“I said to myself: well, if the Japanese give their cows beer, massage them and play music for them to come up with quality gourmet meat, why can’t we adopt a bit of the production system here and make it ‘made in Walonnia’?” Derzelle explains the reasoning behind his decision.
Sara de Silenrieux is a pretty strong dark beer, with an alcohol content of 5% by volume, but Hugues Derzelle claims that the cows aren’t in any danger of getting drunk from their daily beer diet because the bacteria in their rumen (the bovine equivalent of our esophagus) immediately metabolize most of the alcohol, with only very little of it reaching their bloodstream.
Photo: Hugues Derzelle/Facebook
Derzelle started giving four liters of dark beers to two of his cows in November 2016, and on March 25 he shipped the first samples of his beer-enhanced beef to select stores in Belgium. He claims that the special diet makes the meat a bit more expensive than other artisan beefs, but not outrageously so.
The Belgian farmer plans to produce around 500 kilograms of his special beef in the first year, and increase production if feedback from consumers is positive.
In case you’re looking to get your hands on a couple of steaks of this special beer beef, it’s called “Saveur du Long Pré” or “Flavor of the Long Meadow”.
Hugues Derzelle isn’t the only cattle breeder who’s betting on unconventional feed to improve the taste of beef. An Australian farm has been feeding chocolate to its cows, and claims the result has been fantastic. So maybe he really is on to something.