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  • Chili Pepper Thoughts/Techniques

    I've been working up a recipe for my first chili pepper beer. I've seen the threads that have been made, but most are more than a decade old at this point. There's got to be people still brewing chili beers today that want to talk about their experiences.

    My real question: I'm debating between doing a chili pepper tea (30 steep in just off the boil water) and a tincture (multi-day steep in vodka). Thoughts? Preferences?

    Secondary to that technical question, I'm planning on doing a trifecta of common peppers: Poblano (seeded, roasted, skinned), Fresno (seeded), and Habanero (seeded). I'm planning on leaving in the pith for the capsicum. Experience with these particular peppers? Thoughts on amounts? My early thoughts are about 3lb/bbl for the Poblano, 1lb/bbl for the Fresno, and maybe 1 or 2 total Habanero per bbl.

    For context, I'm brewing them into a pretty standard American Pale Ale brewed with Cascade and Columbus hops. I'm hoping for something piquant but not overly spicy, with a lot of rich pepper flavor.

  • #2
    We've had great results from using peppers directly in the kettle and the fermenter. Basically, anywhere you can/would add hops works fine for peppers. I don't really see a need for tea or tincture. I think your quantities are on track; it just depends how much flavor/heat you want and when you use them. I would go a little heavier on the poblano peppers for depth of flavor early (maybe in the kettle), then you can dial in the heat with a late "dry hop" of habanero/fresno. I wouldn't say I'm an expert on the subject, but have made a few tasty chili pepper beers recently. If you want more specifics on what we've done as far as varieties/quantities let me know. Cheers.

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    • #3
      I live and brew in the land of Hatch Chile. The Chile beers I've done, using whole roasted green chiles (I highly recommend you roast your Chiles first to get all the flavor and sugars to come out. The green Chile beer we do, I've done two pounds of medium chiles per barrel in the past, next batch I plan to step it up a pound more per barrel. I ran the chiles up to 170 degrees for 20 minutes to pasteurize them in a pot, put all the liquid and chiles into a soda keg and flush back and forth to the fermenter or brite about five times until I get the flavor I'm looking for. When I use red Chile, I use medium hot Hatch red Chile powder at a rate of 4 oz. per BBL the last 10 min in the boil and it's just right. Best of luck!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by GnomeTownBrewing View Post
        We've had great results from using peppers directly in the kettle and the fermenter. Basically, anywhere you can/would add hops works fine for peppers. I don't really see a need for tea or tincture. I think your quantities are on track; it just depends how much flavor/heat you want and when you use them. I would go a little heavier on the poblano peppers for depth of flavor early (maybe in the kettle), then you can dial in the heat with a late "dry hop" of habanero/fresno. I wouldn't say I'm an expert on the subject, but have made a few tasty chili pepper beers recently. If you want more specifics on what we've done as far as varieties/quantities let me know. Cheers.
        Any information you're willing to share would be great. I was originally thinking of doing all of the pepper additions in the fermenter directly, but nearly all of the old threads mentioned the fact that it made controlling the level of heat difficult, and that it contributed to a more vegetal flavor as the beer aged. The area I brew in is pretty sensitive to anything that could possible considered spicy, so I want to make sure I'm not going to blow them away. I did a Chipotle Pumpkin Ale one fall, and it was not a particular favorite of anybody, even though I thought it was well made. I have had some success doing one-off kegs of my house IPA with sriracha. I'm hoping to replicate that success with something lighter and cleaner in this beer.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Blu Dragonfly View Post
          I live and brew in the land of Hatch Chile. The Chile beers I've done, using whole roasted green chiles (I highly recommend you roast your Chiles first to get all the flavor and sugars to come out. The green Chile beer we do, I've done two pounds of medium chiles per barrel in the past, next batch I plan to step it up a pound more per barrel. I ran the chiles up to 170 degrees for 20 minutes to pasteurize them in a pot, put all the liquid and chiles into a soda keg and flush back and forth to the fermenter or brite about five times until I get the flavor I'm looking for. When I use red Chile, I use medium hot Hatch red Chile powder at a rate of 4 oz. per BBL the last 10 min in the boil and it's just right. Best of luck!
          Thank you for those numbers. I didn't realize until I did some sourcing that Hatch chilies are so very seasonal. Next time I try a chili beer I'm going to try to make it happen in that season. I've had the dried chilies, but never the fresh, and I've heard marvelous things.

          Your soda keg process is interesting. I've never done a process similar to that. I'm assuming that there's a filter in the line to keep the chilies out of the fermenter? If that's the case, what is the benefit of including the chilies in the keg, and washing back and forth? Are you allowing the beer to sit in the keg overnight to steep out the flavors, or are you really talking back and forth? Is that enough to 'wash' the chilies?

          I have a background as a chef, and when I roast chilies for culinary purposes, I always coat them in oil, roast, put them in a bowl with a plastric wrap lid to steam, and then rub the char off before using. I am planning on roasting, but oil is a no-no with beer, so I'm trying to parse out the process. Do you just roast the pepper dry over a burner? Does it char evenly/completely without oil? Without burning? Is it easy to clean? Do you both, and just put the char in?

          Thanks for all your help.

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