AN OYSTER-infused beer may not be everyone's favoured brew, but experimental beer has dawned on the craft beer market.
To stay ahead, established Tasmanian craft brewers have been working on their ``novelty'' lines, experimenting with oysters, fruits, spices and maturing processes.
Some in the industry say novelty beers allow brewers to continually test their skills and keep their trade interesting.
They say it also strengthens the appeal of beer to a wider set of drinkers.
Tasmanian Beer and Ale Society head brew sampler Richard Stewart said the new lines could assist in increasing the popularity of beer, as sales, against wine, slowed down.
Mr Stewart said he was more of an ``old fashioned'' beer drinker but was happy to taste and sample.
He said he was not in favour of the oyster beers, but was currently searching for beers from the Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Series, that include bacon and maple ale, and chocolate, peanut butter and banana ale.
``I've had a British banana ale, it tasted like a standard brown ale but with one of those banana-shaped lollies dissolved in it,'' Mr Stewart said.
``Bacon is an odd one. I've tried bacon vodka before and it just tasted like vodka that had had a bit of bacon left in it,'' he said.
``You see beers made with pumpkin, fruits . . . in ancient times they used herbs, spices, anything that could be used to get flavour.''
Van Dieman Brewing director Will Tatchell said 90 per cent of sales were made from their core range of beers, but 10 per cent of sales were from limited release beers.
This year, the brewer started the ``mash-up'' series which included an experimentation with coffee, strawberries and rosehips.
``The Dubbel Shot is created from cold drip coffee,'' Mr Tatchell said.
``The Geromino Strawberry Blonde is created by adding 200 kilograms of fresh strawberries to the conditioning process. Once the beer is finished fermentation it goes into a conditioning tank where we clarify it, pressurise it [before] bottling,'' he said.
``We brew them primarily out of curiosity, and that comes across from the retail point of view too.''
Seven Sheds Brewery owner Willie Simpson said the use of spices in brewing had been occurring for centuries.
He said US beer producers were influencing the novelty beer trend.
``It is probably coming directly from the US where craft beers have taken off and there are all sorts of extreme beers,'' Mr Simpson said.
``They are pushing the boundaries, the levels of bitterness and the strengths and, yes, they are using exotic ingredients,'' he said.
``They are finding if you are doing it as a once-off beer, that has novelty value and is something to interest people, but you still have to make your regulars.''
Mr Simpson said Seven Sheds produced the raspberry infused beer Razzamatazz, but had more recently introduced a beer that experimented during the maturation process.
This beer had been placed in pinot noir barrels and was held on the Spirit of Tasmania for two months as it travelled across the sea for 12 hours daily.
Beer experimentation in the South, at the Two Metre Tall Company, is delving back to ancient Belgium beer-making technologies.
Owner Jane Huntington said she and husband Ashley were using micro flora to naturally flavour their beer lines.
``We were looking for interesting flavour profiles from fruit and found sour cherries and wild plums,'' Mrs Huntington said.
``We also have a barrel of mulberry seeping in soured ale and are looking at using quince further down the track,'' she said.
The Huntingtons have also made the Barilla Bay Oyster Stout.
``We put 60 dozen whole oysters in their shell into mesh bags and they boil for about 20 minutes. It is still very much a dark stout profile, but they give this lovely, sea salt, hoisin flavour. You get more of a saltiness rather than an oyster flavour, it is delicious.''