Jalapeno Ale Experiment

Jalapeno AleThis is my first (and so far last) expedition in to the world of pepper beers. I had tried some other pepper beers and loved them, and I generally like spicy food, so I thought I would give it a go. It was an interesting experiment and I learned some valuable lessons from it.

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I started off with a basic 5 gallon American pale ale recipe. It was actually supposed to be a clone of Sierra Nevada’s pale ale. I don’t know how close it ended up, but it was pretty good anyway. After the primary fermentation was done I bottled three gallons of it and split the rest in to two 1 gallon secondary fermentors.

For the first batch I cut some jalapenos in half and soaked them in vodka overnight. Then I added the peppers to the fermentor. If I recall, I think I added the vodka, too.

Jalapeno Ale 1

For the second batch I roasted the peppers in a skillet for a few minutes until they were nice and dark. I figured the heat would have killed any beasties on them so I didn’t worry about sanitizing them.

Jalapeno Ale 2

My plan was to leave the jalapenos in for about a week, then bottle the beer. Well, as sometimes happens when homebrewing, I got busy and couldn’t get to them for two weeks. This was a mistake. When I was bottling them I poured some of each in to a glass to taste and it was like drinking pure fire! I couldn’t believe how hot it was.

Later I gave some to my friends to try (I warned them first, I couldn’t do that to them). and they agreed it was not fit to drink. One of them dubbed it “chicken marinade” which it is still known as today. Actually that’s probably a good idea I still need to try.

I brewed this beer a couple of years ago and I still haven’t worked up the nerve to try it again. I think next time I’ll use some more mild chilies like anchos.

If I were to try jalapenos again this is what I would do. Half them, de-seed, and grill instead of roast. Then start tasting after a couple of days and decide whether to leave them longer. Definitely less than two weeks.

Have you had a good or bad experience with peppers in beer (or even mead or wine)? Tell me about it below!

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