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Thread: Chili Pepper Beer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Israel
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    105

    Chili Pepper Beer

    So we're in the process of putting out our chili pepper beer which is our modified witbier with shata (I think their Sudanese) chili peppers. We're adding the chili peppers into the grundy post-fermentation. Do we do anything to sanitize the peppers (like steep in vodka) or just throw them right in? On the one hand, there's the obvious concerns about contamination. On the other hand, what self-respecting microbe would live on a chili pepper? Any thoughts much appreciated.

    David
    Dancing Camel Brewing Co.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    194
    A vodka steep would work but I wouldn't recommend putting whole chilis into the grundy as the level of heat and flavor will change over time leading to a inconsistent flavor profile. One technique I have had success with is to make a chili "tea" or extract and add it to the finished beer. I course chop the blend of chili's I want to use and add to a pot of cold water. I cover and slowly bring to a simmer. I simmer for about 10 minutes covered and then crash cool the pot still covered in an ice bath. Next strain the liquid and add to the finished beer. You can blend up small pitcher size test batches to get the desired flavor profile, scale up to desired end quantity and blend away. Just add the extract to the grundy or keg, transfer in your beer and enjoy. Be aware that the chili oils may taint your serving lines. Hope this helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by DancingCamel
    So we're in the process of putting out our chili pepper beer which is our modified witbier with shata (I think their Sudanese) chili peppers. We're adding the chili peppers into the grundy post-fermentation. Do we do anything to sanitize the peppers (like steep in vodka) or just throw them right in? On the one hand, there's the obvious concerns about contamination. On the other hand, what self-respecting microbe would live on a chili pepper? Any thoughts much appreciated.

    David
    Dancing Camel Brewing Co.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    If you are just looking for heat, skip the peppers altogether. Go with pure pepper extract. I tasted a Kolsh with 20k-30k scoville units of heat it was very tasty..
    Joel Halbleib
    CBO "Chief Brewing Officer" / Zymurgist
    Bluegrass Brewing Co
    636 East Main St
    Louisville, KY
    www.bluegrassbrewing.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    194
    Quote Originally Posted by BrewinLou
    If you are just looking for heat, skip the peppers altogether. Go with pure pepper extract. I tasted a Kolsh with 20k-30k scoville units of heat it was very tasty..

    I find the all burn beers very one dimnsional and rather boring. AKA Cave
    Creek Chili Beer. I feel that working with a base beer that compliments the chili flavors, especially malt and roast components, and develop a beer that can be drank and appreciated for the flavors much more satisfying to create.
    I have one that is based on a fairly malty red ale with 4 different smoked peppers. The interplay between the smoke and heat is really rewarding. Just my 2 cents tho, Cheers....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Louisville, KY
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    Cave Creek had a chili in each bottle as I remember it. Which brought out a lot of veggie pepper flavor. I was not real fond of it at all. Now a I would like to try a amber or brown with heat. Sounds good.
    Joel Halbleib
    CBO "Chief Brewing Officer" / Zymurgist
    Bluegrass Brewing Co
    636 East Main St
    Louisville, KY
    www.bluegrassbrewing.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Dexter, MI USA
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    203
    Hello all,

    Love chilies (pretty much just grow various chilies and tomatoes in the garden these days), and love beer. The combination? Not so sure. Most just seem too hot, with nothing to refresh. Lets go a little further into recipe details. For chili beers that I have done in the past (everything from light blondes, to malty ambers to malty darker styles, (seems I've avoided hot hoppy beers)) I've added whole chilies to secondary, either tanks or kegs / firkins / whatever. Sometimes decent flavor, but often too much burn. Almost need a second non-chilied beer as a chaser. No, not almost, definitely. Too many chilies you say?

    I like the tea / dial in the dosing idea, but feel the actual peppers add more complex / whole chili flavor.

    So I've been playing with roughly 9-12 oz of peppers per BBL, what amounts have you found enjoyable? And in what sort of a malt bill?

    Cheers,
    Ron
    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    194
    Quote Originally Posted by Greenbrewmonkey
    Hello all,
    I like the tea / dial in the dosing idea, but feel the actual peppers add more complex / whole chili flavor.

    So I've been playing with roughly 9-12 oz of peppers per BBL, what amounts have you found enjoyable? And in what sort of a malt bill?

    Cheers,
    Ron
    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
    Hi Ron,
    I guess the ways to skin this spicy beast are numerous. The whole chili flavor I agree is a great flavor but I tend to target the smoked approach. Just seems to meld with the base beer better for me and a personal prefernce of my wife, it is her beer after all.. The base beer I use is a Red Ale we produce, OG 1.068, mash temp 156 (malt bomb), and malt bill is ~6% caramunich3, 4% xtal77, ~1% range on roast malt and and high 150 xtal. I use all dried smoked chilies (Chipotle, Puya, Cascabel, Guayillo). Chilie bill is ~32 oz. per BBL but again I am rehydrating and steeping in water. End up with about 2 liters tea
    per BBL.
    Steve

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Israel
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    105
    Thanks for all the input. The chili-tea idea is a great idea for dosing in just the right amount. We went with course-chopping them as you suggested and then putting them in stainless steel tea-balls (yeah - we have lots of balls) then dropping them into the finished beer. We found through trial and error that 24 hours gave us the heat we wanted and then racked the beer off the chili peppers.

    I still don't have an answer to the original question though - if chili peppers have some antibacterial qualities that allow them to be dropped into finished beer without contamination concerns (like dry-hopping for example). It's academic for us on this batch since it's all kegged and will be gone in a week. An interesting side question though is whether you could bottle condition a chili beer or would the chili kill the yeast?

    As to the beer itself, we took a whole different tack from the "standard" chili pepper beer. No 5 alarmer here. We took our Wit which is a fairly "delicate" beer and wanted to add another dimension to it. The aroma and flavor of the beer do not scream chili pepper and the heat, which only kicks in at the end gives a bite but is not overwhelming. Specs are 18 oz per bbl for 24 hrs. Shata from what I've read measures app. 7000 scoville units.

    David
    Dancing Camel Brewing Co.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Dexter, MI USA
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    203
    Hmmm.

    Thanks Steve, David,

    Interesting. I have had the best results with more malty amber styles as well. Sometimes up to 7-10% various crystal malts, balancing the hot with the sweet. That old yin yang thing, I guess. Has anyone done any hoppy chili beers?

    I've used dried chipotle, cascabel, and a few others that escape me just now. David, as a new chili user, watch for mold in both fresh and dried peppers, and discard any tainted peppers (of course!). Due to the presence of said molds, I'm not sure of the peppers total antimicrobial powers. Same is true of hops really. I've tasted many bottled beer that have been dry hopped with leaf hops that exhibit some sort of microbial confusion, to put it lightly. Not so much so with pellets.... process and handling I'm thinking.

    Back to chilies. I'm definitely not looking for just a background bite, and not too much heat either, but good chili flavor. Whatever the variety. As my summer peppers ripen, I am thinking again of fresh picked sun ripened flavors.

    Habaneros have such an exquisite flavor, but so difficult to capture without the overwhelming heat.

    To seed or de-seed. Seeds are, of course, very hot. I think this year I will de-seed. And use fresh chilies without a doubt.

    Why have none of our New Mexican brethren weighed in? Las Cruces? Annual Chili Festival? Surely there must be much mystical musings from the land of enchantment?

    Please guide us.

    Cheers,
    All the best in pepperdom,
    Ron (Laughing Coyote)
    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    699
    "Habaneros have such an exquisite flavor, but so difficult to capture without the overwhelming heat."

    You figure out how to dumb the heat down on
    those tasty peppers be sure to drop me a line Ron. I love the flavor of Habaneros.
    Joel Halbleib
    CBO "Chief Brewing Officer" / Zymurgist
    Bluegrass Brewing Co
    636 East Main St
    Louisville, KY
    www.bluegrassbrewing.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    20

    Roast 'em

    In order to reduce heat and leave the flavor behind, I generally cut out the seeds and some of the white placenta, which is where the capsaicin is most concentrated. Roasting peppers for a short time seems to mellow the heat and adds a tinge of roastiness to the mix. The roasting should also help with sanitation issues.

    I think habaneros are one of the best peppers for beer. They work well in red/brown beers with plenty of residual sweetness. Hop levels should be moderate, perhaps only a bittering addition.

    Be sure to wear gloves!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    O'Fallon, MO
    Posts
    12
    I did a chili beer with a blonde ale. I tried a chili tea but it wasn't consistant from batch to batch. I ended up using capsicum(cant spell) extract. You could taste the beer, but it has a hot finish, it worked well. The owner of the brewpub wanted it to be a lighter beer for the base, so that is what worked for me. I would have went with the roasting method if it was a sweeter-darker beer, but he wanted it light.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1

    green chili beer

    I saw the request for someone from NM to respond and also the question about using a hoppy beer. I use our regular pale ale and add fresh roasted hatch green chilis that I freeze and thaw, and cut up enough so the pieces are easier to remove from kegs which I use to ferment. I read somewhere that freezing facilitates more flavor getting into the beer (broken cell walls?). 3 pounds to make one bbl. I also add 6 fresh habaneros quartered (with seeds) for a little kick. I add the chilis after fermentation is underway and rack off 4-5 days later. Folks seem to like it and it won best of show at the New Mexico State Fair in 2006 (it had aged 9 months by the time of the fair). The IBU on the pale I used for the fair entries was 17. I have since increased the IBU to 25 and it still seems to taste pretty good.

    Diane Riley
    Wellhead Restaurant/Brewpub
    Artesia, NM

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO USA
    Posts
    26

    Pepper beer observations

    My pepper beer observation...brewing for 19 years, the last 12 professionally, 1 micro, two brewpubs.

    I just tapped the third pepper beer that I've brewed. First one was 10 years ago, using jalapenos and habaneros, in an amber lager. Too spicy!

    Last year I did a 7 bbl batch of a light amber ale 11.6P, 12SRM 20 IBU, with 1.5 bushels of locally grown Pueblo (mira sol) and Anaheim peppers. Peppers were roasted, then deseeded and skins removed. Added to secondary for two weeks. Had a mild pepper aroma and slight flavor. Not fined or filtered.

    This year I did an amber ale with more caramel malts ~10%, 15.5P, 18SRM and 12 IBU. I used 2 bushels of the hotter Pueblo peppers in 7 bbls. Seeds and skin added this time (again in secondary). Had a wonderful pepper aroma and warm tingly pepper flavor....until....I added gelatin finings before racking to the serving tank. Less than a week later there's hardly a hint of pepper left! It's the strangest thing.

    -alan
    brewer
    Shamrock Brewing Co
    Pueblo, CO

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    7
    This is a super old thread, but I am thinking about making a beer with chili's in it and wondered if anyone had used cayene or other types of chili powder(not the mix used for making chili, but actual ground chili).
    Thanks.

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