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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mmmmmm .... Marmite!

Pop quiz. Marmite is:
1. A baby marmot.
2. A black, chalky byproduct of iron ore produced in smelting.
3. A delicious treat made of spent beer yeast and spread on toast.
Well, this being Beervana, the answer isn't much in doubt, but admit it--you didn't actually know, did you?

Marmite, according to the promotional website, is just irresistably tasty. Behold:

The basic production method has changed little since Marmite was first invented. Basically, the used brewer's yeast is broken down to release soluble amino acids and proteins. This soluble material is then concentrated and filtered a few times before going through a unique (and top secret) process for flavour development.

At the end of all this, we end up with yeast extract paste - nearly Marmite but not quite. The finishing touches make all the difference. We add an extra blend of vitamins, vegetable and spice extracts to create the taste your mouth adores!

I learned of this product while meandering through the byways of the blogosphere and discovered that Guinness put out a limited edition batch of their own marmite earlier this year--for St. Patrick's, naturally. Curious, I delved more deeply into marmitology. Turns out it is a 100-year-old product (with earlier, pre-commercial versions dating back 400 years) with a status something like Spam in America. Mostly it's gross, but for the avid few who promote marmite, that, apparently, is it's charm.

Said one site: "Usually, it's spread thinly on toast, and for those who like it, it has a salty, almost meaty flavor. For those who don't, the flavor is more akin to that of earwax." Mmmm, thin meat spread, tasty.

It is vegan, however, which raises the question--is there a market in Beervana? Perhaps, in conjunction with Roots Organic, say, a Hawthorne store could find a market. I know I'm dying to try it.


  1. That sounds so gross, especially on toast.

  2. We carried it for years at Belmont Station, it was one of our top selling "Brit food" items.

    FWIW, we discontinued it because several major grocery stores in town started stockiong it and we couldn't compete with their "high volume, low price" approach.

    Oh yeah, it does taste like beef...

  3. Chris, which major grocery stores. I feel duty bound now to take one for the team and taste this product. Or do you have a few jars left in the back room?

  4. Yes, I know Marmite, my family (ex-pat brits) love the stuff. It is foul and disgusting. I think it was something they were forced to eat during the blitz to save their hats.

    Avoid at all costs.

  5. Well, if you grew up in Australia it was sort of a staple. When coming here, I really missed it (as a 4 year old). It is tangy and can be addictive, but certainly an acquired taste.

  6. I just tried it on a trip to Australia and I miss it already. It's weird but sooo salty and good. :) I'm trying to find it in Portland, which stores carry it?