Craft Fish Guts

Sturgeon by David Torcivia, from Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
There was a bit of a to-do the oth­er week when a UK TV show about food pro­duc­tion sug­gest­ed that isin­glass fin­ings rep­re­sent­ed some kind of ‘dark side’ of the brew­ing indus­try. (We did­n’t see it – we gath­ered this from the minia­ture Twit­ter storm that ensued.) Isin­glass is made from the swim blad­ders of fish, so we’ll acknowl­edge that there is a cer­tain ‘ick’ fac­tor, but it’s been used in British brew­ing for a long time and isn’t some­thing we have any prob­lem with at all.

This 1978 arti­cle from CAM­RA’s What’s Brew­ing, how­ev­er, sug­gests that not only is isin­glass harm­less, but that brew­ers could be going a lit­tle fur­ther and mak­ing it part of their ‘craft’ schtick:

On the first floor of God­son’s Brew­ery… head brew­er Rob Adams takes what looks like a large flat sea shell from a side­board draw­er… It is the dried blad­der of a stur­geon fish… Mr Adams makes his own fin­ings from stur­geon blad­ders, bought at £7 a pound and mixed with water in a large plas­tic dust­bin.

Do any brew­ers these days make their own isin­glass from scratch? And would a real­ly ‘crafty’ brew­ery per­haps go a step fur­ther and have a salt­wa­ter pond full of fish in the back yard…?

Ian Mack­ey, author of this very use­ful book, has very kind­ly pro­vid­ed us with a trea­sure trove of use­ful clip­pings from this peri­od, so expect a few more nuggets in weeks to come.

Pic­ture by David Tor­civia, from Flickr, under a Cre­ative Com­mons License.