Jalapeno Ale Mini Batch

Late boil addition of hops and sliced jalapeno peppers

Late boil addition of hops and sliced jalapeno peppers

Recently I’ve been trying to experiment with a few new ideas and keep the brew days fresh and interesting.  Although I readily admit that I have an immense amount of learning to do to become a solid brewer, switching things up and doing something new is a good way to not get bored or stuck in a rut.  After the idea for the bacon beer was formed in my mind, other somewhat weird brewing possibilities started popping up.  The jalapeno ale was one of them.  After doing a little poking around, I found some recipes and tried my best to see if there was a consensus as to how to make the pepper flavor come through.  Should the peppers be roasted?  Added to the boil?  De-seeded? Added in the secondary? How many? etc.  The problem I found was that it seemed that everyone had their own way of doing things and had results they enjoyed.

I saw some people who actually placed a whole pepper into the bottle!  It looked cool, but I have no clear bottles nor would I want to try such a trick, too messy.  I decided to just chop up two decent sized jalapenos and add them to the boil unroasted.  Once the peppers had hit the wort it really seemed more like a stew than a beer in the making but it didn’t smell unpleasant by any means.  Getting the wort from the boil kettle to the carboy was a bit more messy than usual but it wasn’t that bad.

As a note of warning to anyone that may want to try something like this in the future:  I’d be sure to use a glass carboy for fermentation and it also may be a good idea to brew this beer right before you are planning on changing out your siphon tubing.  I found that even after using the tubing for two batches after the jalapeno ale I could smell a distinct pepper aroma from the tubing.  I can’t detect any flavor transfer but I imagine it would be smart to play it safe.  I also read of people that made a pepper beer in a plastic fermenting container and had the flavor leech into the next batch they brewed.

At bottling time I gave the hydrometer sample a nice taste and was pretty pleased so far.  The FG came out at 1.012 and the beer is somewhat balanced.  The aroma is unequivocally jalapeno.  The taste however is a bit more subtle than the overwhelming nose.  There’s a decent malt component that at least reminds you that you’re drinking a beer and not a bottle of pepper juice.  The only heat I detected was in the back of my throat in the finish, well after the other tastes had vanished.  It was not an intense burn, just enough to give you a bit of a pause.  This burn might become more pronounced if you were to drink a larger sample, but I don’t think it is something that would turn away people other than those averse to spicy foods.  I suppose adding a hotter pepper (or a fraction of a hotter pepper) along with the jalapenos would be the best way to give the beer a bigger kick.  Adding more jalapeno seems to me like it would start to make the pepper flavor too intense by the time you got the heat you were looking for.  A couple more weeks and I’ll be able to taste the finished product.  I carbonated this beer on the high side.  I think the fizz from the carbonation will work well with the heat of the peppers.

A punch of peño Ale (1 gallon batch)

  • 1.5 lbs (60%) US 2-Row
  • .75 lbs (30%) Golden Promise Malt
  • .125 lbs (5%) CaraPils
  • .125 lbs (5%) Palm Sugar (about .25 cup)
  • .25 oz Challenger 7.3% AA @ 60 min
  • .25 oz Challenger 7.3% AA @ 5 min
  • about 2 sliced Jalapeno Peppers (adjust to taste) @ 5 min
  • US-05 yeast

Mash at 152 F for 60 Min

Fermented at about 70 F

This beer has the potential to be much better than the Bacon Maple experiment that I brewed recently.  The maple flavor imparted in the priming sugar is just too overwhelming and doesn’t seem to be fading much.  If I ever revisit the bacon beer I will definitely use a mixture of maple syrup and dextrose as my priming sugar instead of straight maple syrup.  Once this is ready to drink, I will revisit and give some final thoughts.


3 thoughts on “Jalapeno Ale Mini Batch

  1. Like the idea. I decided to try one after I tasted a commercial beer brewed with ghost and scorpion peppers that had a flash of heat. I have an 1gallon experimental batch going where I added 3 habanero peppers once fermentation was complete, can’t wait to taste it.

    • Three habanero peppers in one gallon will probably pack quite a punch of heat! I’ll be interested in hearing the results since I think if I were to make a pepper beer again I’d ratchet up the heat level… but maybe not quite that high!

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