Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some like it hot…

This Wednesday Wheat will be a Chili Pepper Wheat available at 4PM as usual.  You’ve heard of dry hopped beers?  This is a dry peppered beer!  I used about a dozen dried Guajillo chili peppers (actually a dried Mirasol pepper is called a Guajillo and has a Scoville rating between 2500-5000).  Instead of my usual format for blogging about the wheat beer flavorings, I thought I’d give you more information about using peppers in beer.

Here’s the trick to a hot or a mild and flavorful beer using peppers: pith and seeds.  I scraped out the pith and seeds leaving just the meat of the pepper thus this beer should have plenty of chili flavor without the heat.  (if you want hot, you’ll have to bring a bottle of your favorite habanero or ghost face pepper sauce to spike it)  Some like it hot….I like them flavorful.  For those who want to make hot homebrews and not have much pepper flavor, just use the pith and seeds and don’t add the skins.  I guess it’s like the 95/5 rule.  95% flavor and 5% heat for my beer and if you just used the hot components, your additions would have 95% heat and 5% flavor.

Colorado has actually been embracing the chili peppers in beer for quite some time.  The three most noteworthy examples are Wynkoop’s Patty’s Chili Beer, Coopersmith’s Sigda’s Green Chili Lager and Twisted Pine’s Billy’s Chilies (the hottest of the three).   Twisted Vine also has a chili beer that uses the ghost face pepper, (I’m told is currently the hottest pepper in the world). 

There are many different approaches to using the peppers in beer, I described my approach.  Other recipes and processes can found here, here and here.  Another philosophy, especially if you are a commercial brewery, is to skip the cutting and skinning and just use pure pepper extracts for flavor and heat.  One could have greater consistency and control by using such a method.  I haven’t heard of homebrewers successfully using this approach.  If you have experience with this, please comment in the form at the bottom of this blog.

My first experience with a pepper beer was Cave Creek Chili Beer.  I’m not sure if it is still available, I’ve heard the company went under, but maybe somebody has saved the label and is contracting it again.  I was at “The Perfect Pint” in Platteville, WI, which is a beer bar that is still in existence.  This was at over 10 years ago when I was trying all the different microbrews I could find.  The bar always had free popcorn so I grabbed a basket of buttered goodness and ordered the chili beer, which came with two little peppers in the bottom of the bottle. (way less offensive than the worm in the tequila).  What I remember most about my first sip was that it was nice and cold, but then the heat hit.  The first reaction when you have hot in your mouth is to wash it down with something cool and cold, so I quick had another drink.  The downward spiral was futile, so I switched to the popcorn to drown out the heat.  Two baskets of popcorn later I had finished the 12oz bottle!  Sweet defeat.  I’ll normally eat the peppers off a Chicago style hotdog or other foods that it is used as a garnish, but as I sat there holding the pepper in my hand agonizing over whether or not I should eat it….I ended up giving up and not finishing the peppers at the bottom, so maybe I didn’t defeat the bottle after all.

For those who want more, need more, there is even a chili beer website dedicated to the lover of chili beers. (enjoy the cheesy intro)


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