Last week I was telling the story to somebody about how Jalapeño Lena beer was created and realized it was about a year ago that I made my first batch. So I looked it up and sure enough, I missed the one year anniversary which was on 10-24-11. I usually tell people it was made on a “Dare and Bet” and it was named after a really great zydeco song called “Jalapeño Lena".” Here is the whole story…
In the summer of 2011 I made a Guajillo pepper wheat beer and I painstakingly and diligently removed the pith and seeds so I could taste the peppers but not have any heat to the beer. The beer turned out well but the most common complaints that I heard was that it was “wussy” and had “no heat.” So I went into the kitchen, washed about 1/2 lb of jalapenos, chopped them up fine (seeds, pith, meat, stems and all!) and put them into a sanitized cheesecloth bag (called a hopsock by us brewers) and put it in the bottom of a keg. Then I racked 5 gallons of pilsner on top and let it rest 7 days.
I put the beer on tap and I proudly declared that the beer was hot! Too hot for Adam Draeger to drink a pint, 3-4 oz was enough for me. I intended to “shut people up” by releasing this beer that was “barely drinkable” due to the heat. It backfired. They loved it! The transplants from New Mexico (whom I’ve noticed have a larger tolerance for heat than most) said it was like a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 and it was “just enough heat” to make it good.
I didn’t plan on making more, but since the first keg blew in 3 days, I made another keg and thought, “that would be that.” After the second keg blew just as fast (maybe faster) I decided to keep making the beer as long as people kept drinking it. When we had to turn people away that wanted growlers because I didn’t have enough to go around, I knew we were onto something, I started making about 1/2bbl a week, opened it up for growler sales and the demand hasn’t stopped growing since.
The beer has 3lbs peppers per barrel (ppb) and ~5.1%ABV and ~34 IBU’s, I have no clue what the scoville units are (anybody got a connection to help me test this?) If you haven’t had a pint for awhile, check it out and maybe you’ll appreciate the beer a little more knowing what’s Behind the Beer. For all those that love the fresh pepper aroma and the heat, here’s to you.