Feedback on recipe... Pepper Beer

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BuckeyeBrewster, Dec 20, 2012.

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  1. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Hey guys, I've taken a break from homebrewing, but have decided to get back into the hobby. I'm really inspired by what some might classify as unorthodox beers. So, I thought I'd give it a shot and brew something that fall outside of the normal stuff my family and friends are used to drinking. As a frame of reference, my parents see a porter as exotic, so the bar to create something exotic is very low :slight_smile: .

    I'm not at the all-grain level yet, so I am sticking to extract brewing.

    Amber DME - 3lbs
    Briess Dried Malt Extract- Golden Light - 3lbs
    Special Roast Malt (Briess) - 1lb
    Crystal 50-60L (Simpson's) - 1lb (I'm going to smoke this malt)

    Crystal Pellet Hops - 1 oz - 90 min
    Crystal Pellet Hops - 1 oz - 30 min
    Crystal Pellet Hops - 1 oz - 5 min

    Some sort of chile in the secondary? However, I don't want the heat to be overwhelming.
    Ale yeast?

    I'm not 100% committed to any of the ingredients above and I am completely open to modifying it... My only parameters is I want to utilize some sort of chile.

    The recipe is partly based on the Smoked Habanero Amber Lager from Randy Mosher's book "Radical Brewing", and partly based on what I was able to find in the extract section on Midwest Brewing's website. I want to make this as an ale, since I am not in a good position to regulate the ambient temperature to the levels that a lager would need to ferment at. My goal for this brew is mostly educational, but I'd also like to experiment with something funky.

    Is the above recipe drinkable? If you were to modify, what would you change? What kind of success and or failures have you had when creating a chili beer? And finally, what kind of feedback would you offer on constructing a beer like this.

    Thanks in advance and I look forward to any feedback.
  2. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    It looks like a good start.

    The quick and dirty for my thoughts:

    I've heard nothing but bad things about darkened LME. just use 6# of a light colored LME and add moer crystal or some RB.

    Do you know how to smoke malt? There are a few threads on here about it. I've contributed and I like my ideas best :slight_smile:

    Throw some pablano peppers and jalapenos on the grill with your crystal. May as well. You might come up with something you like here.

    You could use a clean fermenting yeast like US-05 or something in the English style and do quite nicely for yourself. It just depends on what you want. I'd prefer the latter.

    Edit: thinking back on how you need to smoke malt you may want to try smoking something that's a base malt. Add an extra pound of base malt to your steep and just increase your steeping time to about 45 minutes and you'll have done a mini mash.
  3. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I am going to just talk about chili beers in general for starters...

    Of the ones I have had, they range from pretty damn good (Weston labs #4) to utterly horrific (cave creek chili beer, no citation needed).

    On the fence, and from looking at your recipe something like what I'd expect your recipe to taste like, is Rogue Chipotle ale. I really thought that they couldn't make up their minds between a pepper beer and a smoked beer. Funnily though, I will drink this beer again. About once a year I'm up for a bomber, and every time I'll be just as confused when I drink it.

    So the point is, and it's illustrated perfectly by Rogue Chipotle ale, is that you don't want to leave your drinkers confused about what they're getting. I would tend to advise against the smoke/chili combination, unless the smokiness is from roasted chilis.

    I know everyone is going to say use light DME instead of amber... noted and logged......... but I don't think that's going to be the defining factor at all in this brew. The chilis will be. Don't overdo it. Others should help you with methods for imparting chili flavor. I will watch this thread because I'd like to make a chili beer myself sometime soon. :grinning:
  4. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Thanks for the post. In place of the DME that I have in my original recipe, do you think 6 lbs of Briess Gold Unhopped Liquid Malt Extract would work?

    I've done a little bit of research on smoking malt, but I need to get a better handle on it. I'm limited to using my grill outside.

    What are your ideas on a good base malt for something like this? Also, would I be combining the 2 lbs of base malt when I smoke, or would I save half for the steep (so I would have 1lb that is smoked, and 1lb that is regular base malt)?

    Finally, if I smoked the chilli peppers along with the malt, would this be sufficient to impart flavor or would I still need to add these peppers to either the brew kettle or the fermenter?
  5. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    I'm a big fan of Rouge's Chipolte ale. What are your thoughts on hops for something like this? I'm trying to figure out a way to test how different hops might interact with different types of peppers. I thought about possibly buying some different beer at the store and adding pepper to see if I can discern any changes to the taste. If anything it is a good justification to go buy some beer when my wife asks :slight_smile:
  6. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    A good base malt is German 2-row. Maybe I'm just partial to rauchbiers. :slight_smile: I'm sure American 2-row would work fine too. I'd smoke at least a couple of pounds (and it never hurts to have extra for another batch). If you do it right the stuff will be stronger than the smoked malt you can buy at the store. You'll want to make extra so you know what you're working with next time and if you brew with your smoked malt so you can add or subtract from the total grainbill.

    The reason you'll want to mini mash and the reason you SHOULDN'T use crystal for the smoked malt is that you want to soak your malt for 15 min before it goes on the grill. Low and slow (225F) for smoking meat is TOO HOT. You'll want to try to keep the fire as small as you can and as gentle as you can on the malt. I don't know what you're doing to the malt diastatic power (ability to convert into sugar) but it can't be good. This is where an additional pound of 2 row come in when you steep your grains during the brew process. Everthing will come together in your kettle and after about 25 min you'll have most of your conversion done. I said 45 min above, because it's better to give it some extra time and make sure your conversion is done.

    On a sidenote, you'll want to let your smoked malt rest for a week or two after you make it. Oxidation can help remove some of the harsh elements here. Open, or in a paper bag would be fine.

    As for the peppers, you'll get a variety of opinions. I'm NOT suggesting that you put them on top of your malt when you smoke it. :slight_smile: If you want to put them on the side, I would.

    As for brewday, DO put them in the beer. Some would throw them in with 5 min left in the boil. Others might suggest putting them in after your primary is finished, or in secondary. I'd personally put them into the last minutes of the boil to sanitize them. They'll go in the fermenter after that. If you want to put them in later, they should probably go in the freezer in the meantime.
  7. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    You can reduce the heat that comes across in a habanero beer by cutting the pepper into quarters, de-veining and de-seeding the pepper (that's where most of the heat is), then using the remaining quartered flesh either in secondary or by soaking it in a neutral spirit like vodka for 5-10 days and then pitching the vodka only into your beer. I did the vodka soak with 2 medium sized hab's and pitched the vodka into 3 gallons of imperial chocolate porter. Loved the results. You of course will have to adjust how many peppers you use based on your batch size and depending on the style of beer you are brewing.
    MrOH likes this.
  8. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I'm wondering who's put chili powder in their beer and had success here. I guess that's the direction that I'm taking him by throwing chilis on the grill anyway. Chipotle would be a more accurate summation. :slight_smile:
  9. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Thanks for the information! I feel better about making this batch now. Once I get the hops and type of pepper figured out, I think I'll be in a good place. I'll make sure to post my results once I am finished.
  10. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    This is interesting. Is the vodka method used in order to kill off any unwanted bacteria or does it help you control the amount of heat you are adding to the batch? Also, how much of the vodka flavor make its way through to the beer?
  11. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    The vodka is used to better extract the essence of the pepper. If you soak the pepper in vodka for a day or two it does sanitize it. If you soak it longer, you extract the flavors into the spirit. You just need to soak the pepper slices in enough vodka to cover them (probably about 3-4oz of vodka) and no I've never been able to taste the vodka in the final product when doing this.
  12. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    You've got a lot going for it. It should sort itself out for the most part. You've brewed before, you've probably smoked something on your grill before (malt typically isn't where you start this technique). You're a guy, it's in your blood.
    BuckeyeBrewster likes this.
  13. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I can't say that I have intelligent words of wizdum for which hops to use for your beer. I would think you'd want some twang without overpowering or clashing with the peppers. Therefore skip the super aromatic and flavorful expensive hops like amarillo, simcoe, citra etc. Maybe a small straight bittering addition with something like magnum and then a little flavor / aroma hops with something middle of the road and not beer-defining. I realize this is a non-answer of an answer... :rolling_eyes:

    Or just find out how rogue did chipotle ale and copy... :grinning:
  14. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I agree that magnum would be a smart bittering choice in this application. I have found willamette to be a complementary aroma hop choice for peppers. It's spicy, a bit floral, and sometimes a bit grassy. All of those characteristics pair nicely with peppers imho.
  15. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    I've brewed in the past, but this is one of the first recipes that I have pieced together to try to create something. What would the timing of the hops look like with this if I were to add the additional hops? I'm using Beersmith to organize things. I've already ordered Crystal Hops, but when I try to match my recipe up with Beersmith's style comparison (Pale Ale), it indicates that I need more bitterness, if I were to add either Magnum or Willamette hops (or both), when would I add the hops. Thanks for all the help with this, I'm learning a lot by going through this process and I really appreciate all the feedback.

    Just to summarize, this is the timing that I have for the hops:

    Crystal Pellet Hops - 1 oz - 90 min
    Crystal Pellet Hops - 1 oz - 30 min
    Crystal Pellet Hops - 1 oz - 5 min
  16. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Bittering hops (like magnum) are usually added anywhere from 90 min - 60 minutes. Aroma Hops (like Willamette) tend to be added anywhere from 30 minutes to 0 minutes. If you are already set on your crystal pellet hop schedule, perhaps you could add some magnum at 60, and some Willamette at both 20 and 10.
  17. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    what is the AA% of your crystal hops?

    If it were me, and I base this on absolutely no experience with pepper beers whatsoever, I'd do a bittering charge at 60 (or 90) and a flavor charge at 10, 0, with about an ounce each. If you're going to use willamette, toss it in at 10 or FO.
  18. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I'll give you some advice on the smoking aspect. You want a small fire with no charcoal, just the wood you like. I use pecan for smoking my malt. Get it burning(flames), then spread it out so it just smolders and smokes a bunch. Use a pan big enough to spread the malt out, or stir occasionally. I've always used dry grain(American 2-row)but I know a lot of people moisten it first. An hour should be plenty of time, but you may need to add small pieces of wood from time to time to keep it smoky. Let the smoked grain sit a week or 2 in an open paper bag, then use as you would any malt. One trick that took me a while to figure out is that the smoky taste doesn't develop immediately in the beer, in fact the hydrometer sample may not even give a hint of smoke, but in a month you'll start noticing it and it will peak in about 6 months.
  19. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    I am considering scraping the Crystal hops for this recipe and working with the Magnum and Willamette. I don't know how exact the brewing programs like Beersmith are for small batches, but when I plug in the Crystal pellets and the Magnum and Willamette it raises the IBU dramatically (of course, I could always half the amount of hops). I want to fit this into the Pale Ale catagory so I could go with 60 min - Magnum (1 oz), and 20 min, 5 min Willamette (1 oz). That puts me right at 44 IBUs.
  20. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    The Crystal has an AA of 3.5%. Yeah, using the schedule you recommend puts me right where I want to be for the style I'm going for.
  21. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Question on this... I have a gas grill and will be getting a smoker box from Home Depot. Is there anything I should consider with this? Also, I'm glad you mentioned the part about the smoke not being present at first... I would have gotten frustrated and poured a bottle of liquid smoke in the secondary!
  22. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (1,825) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Crystal hops are aroma hops and aren't intended to be used for bittering. I would recommend you eliminate the 90 minute bittering addition of crystal hops for that reason. Instead I would use a small amount of magnum at 60 minutes to get a bittering charge in the 20-30 ibu range. Then add either the willamette, the crystal, or a combination of the two for aroma at the times you choose at say the 25 - 10 minutes left in boil range and at the amounts you need to gain the remaining 24-14 ibu's you are looking for.

    P.S. you mention that you want to keep this in the pale ale category....did you just say that as an ibu range reference? or did you mean you want this beer to come out like a pale ale? i assume the former since you also mentioned you were going to smoke some of the malt.
  23. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I really don't think you can do this with a gas grill, at least not with the gas burners. It will cook the malt.Use the box, but start the wood burning somewhere else and just add it to the box. I use a charcoal chimney(like a Kingsford) and get the wood burning nicely, then pour it into the smoker.
    The first time I brewed a smoked beer that happened to me(but no liquid smoke). I tasted it, was disappointed so I mashed 5 pounds of smoked malt, boiled it down to about a quart and added it to the fermenter. A month later I was still disappointed, but after that the smoke started coming through more and more. At 9 months the first keg was finished and the second keg lasted an hour at our Oktoberfest.
    One other thing-hops and smoke clash so I would choose one or the other, or go subtle with one.
  24. BuckeyeBrewster

    BuckeyeBrewster Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2012

    Yeah, I'm using it more for reference for the ibu.
  25. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,077) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Yeah I agree save the crystal with low AA for flavor and aroma additions late in the boil, use something high AA for your initial bittering charge. It probably won't take more than 0.5 oz (if that) of any typical bittering hop if boiled for one hour to get you where you want to be. Other than that, crystal and/or willamette late sounds good, just don't over-do it. As rocdoc1 said, hops and smoked malts clash so keep the IBUs pretty low and the late hopping reasonable.
  26. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    You don't necessarily need late hop additions with peppers. After all, you are adding the peppers for flavor and aroma. You don't want the hops to clash. If you're adding late hops, there should be a particular flavor or aroma you want from the hops to compliment the peppers. Otherwise, just get your IBUs out of your bittering charge and leave it at that.

    I've never had a problem immediately detecting smoke flavor from either home smoked or malt-house smoked malts. I'm not sure what would cause it to take a month to appear, unless the home smoked malt wasn't infused with enough smoke at the onset. I usually let the malt sit in the smoker for a few hours unless the smoker is particularly smoky. The malt should come off the smoker overwhelmingly smoky.
  27. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (721) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I'm letting my Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt sit for awhile...20% in a Hatch Chili Porter maltbill was just a little much when it was super fresh...phenolic...but it did mellow with > month in the keg and turned out real nice.
  28. geezerpk

    geezerpk Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 South Carolina
    Here's an interesting idea for a home grown smoker. Since there isn't much heat involved, I made myself one with a spare trash can we had. Used a hot plate and old frying pan for heat source and wood chip holder. Wit this setup there's no danger of high temperatures. Even after a half hour or more the grate is relatively cool to the touch.
    BuckeyeBrewster likes this.
  29. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (721) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Link no worky-worky for me
  30. geezerpk

    geezerpk Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 South Carolina

    I just tried the link again, and it worked fine for me. Try putting a / after the html
  31. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (721) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Still not smok'in : ) ...but let me just say: For the amount of smoked malt I use in a year I'm probably going to continue to buy it in ~2# increments.
  32. geezerpk

    geezerpk Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 South Carolina

    Sorry it won't work for you I'm planning on doing quite a bit of smoking since I had a couple of pear trees trimmed brutally and a huge pile of wood chips. I just like a mild smoke taste in many of my darker ales.
  33. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,351) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I get a bait and switch link for sears grills. Nothing else on the original page except the title...
    "How to make a Smoker from a Trash Can
    October 2003"
  34. geezerpk

    geezerpk Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2010 South Carolina

    Hmmmm…! Suspect it has something to do with different web browser/operating system. Anyway, the idea comes from the Food Channel's Alton Brown. Here's a link that's similar to the seemingly unreachable one I originally supplied.
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