Friday, September 25, 2015

Wildlife viewed through beer goggles: 6. Is this the world's first moss-themed beer?

Still in pursuit of wildlife-themed beers (click here for earlier examples), here's a complete novelty. I suspect that this must be the world's first moss-themed beer.

Old Sphagnum has been brewed by the Allendale Brewery to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Peatland Restoration Scheme by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership.

This is Sphagnum, the wonderful moss that grows from the top, dies from below and produced deep peat deposits that - amongst other attributes - lock away atmospheric carbon.

And here, high in the North Pennines in Weardale, is a peaty pool, partially full of Sphagnum, that is a superb habitat for all sorts of wildlife.

Sphagnum absorbs water like a sponge, thanks to these highly specialised leaves that are formed by a network of living cells separated by dead, empty cells that hold water.

Here they are under the microscope, showing that network of living cells (green) and the hollow dead cells in between that hold water.

The Peatlands Restoration project aims to reverse past damage from moorland drainage, that has killed the Sphagnum and led to rapid peat erosion. 

This is the only moss-themed beer that I've ever encountered and has instantly become an indispensable addition to any bryological field trip.


  1. I suddenly have an insatiable thirst for beer, Phil. Though I will now think twice about taking a walkabout on the North Pennines in the dark. And I finally understand why, in the springtime, everyone was typing about choosing peat-free potting soil. -- Miss Kate

  2. Replies
    1. This is strictly in the interests of research (not)!


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