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Old 05-02-2010, 03:56 AM   #21
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Just finished bottling! The brews spent 11 days in secondary.

That was an experience. My bottling device clogged with seeds that I can't remove to save my life, I'm gonna have to buy a new one I think. Oh well. I just kinked the siphon tube to stop the flow between bottles, it worked out okay. I used those cough drop-like sugar thingies for the bottles because I didn't want to rack 1 gallon at a time to a bottling bucket just to add sugar for priming. In the end, it all worked out fine.

I got about 10 bottles per pepper, give or take. Here are my thoughts on the tastes from my small samples of green beer:

Serrano - Starts normal, then the serrano flavor hits, then the heat hits the back of the throat. Not an overpowering heat but it's definitely strong enough. The serrano flavor came through perfectly.

Ancho - Great dark fruit taste, earthy, a little bit of heat. This may wind up being my favorite.

Panca - AMAZING! Not much discernible heat, but wow, it tastes like a fruit beer. It's somewhat similar to the Saranac Pomegranate Wheat. Very strong berry flavor. I think SWMBO will love it. I'm betting you could seriously pass this off as a raspberry beer and nobody would question it.

New Mexico - Kinda in between Panca and Ancho. A little more heat. Nice and fruity... the flavor seems a little less pronounced, I'd probably use more next time.

Habanero - At first, I thought it wasn't all that hot. It hits as you swallow. Nice punch, good flavor. It seems like 1/4 a habanero was a good amount, I wasn't afraid to sample it at all, yet got some heat.

For the two spicier beers, I don't feel like I can really judge it yet, once I have a full pint I'll be able to determine how much heat there really is. It seems like it'd be an additive effect. Also keep in mind these tastings were all on extremely green beer... I'm not sure what changes to expect since the peppers were really the only flavor, but maybe some flavors will mellow a bit.

All in all, I'm extremely excited by this project. The amounts of peppers seemed just about spot on for the most part. It'll be really fun to mix and match the different peppers to figure out the ultimate combination, which I'll later brew into a batch dedicated to my Uncle. He used to make hot sauce with his homegrown peppers and I'm going to name it after his signature sauce - Uncle Rick's Fire in the Hole!

I can't wait until these are ready, it's going to be so hard waiting!

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Old 05-02-2010, 05:17 AM   #22
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Very interesting!

I found that the habanero heat goes away quite considerably when the beer is chilled to serving temp. Let me know if you have similar results for the habanero or other beers.

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Old 05-02-2010, 04:43 PM   #23
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They all sound delicious! This has really inspired me to make a chile pepper beer and the other night in the produce section of Raley's I found myself starring at all of the peppers and contemplating.

I think what I'd like to try is the roasted serrano and ancho in a full 5.5 gallon batch. First of all, you mention the serrano flavor... what is that exactly? Secondly, would you recommend I just scale up your weight from 1 gallon to 5.5. gallons?

Thanks and I can't wait to hear how these turn out in the end!

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Old 05-02-2010, 07:33 PM   #24
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Did you try freezing any of the peppers before you put them into the secondary? I think i read somewhere that freezing them breaks open the cells and really allows for the peppery goodness to enter the beer. Might also help if you decide to scale up the recipe to a full batch so you don't end up with lbs of peppers in your beer.

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Old 05-02-2010, 10:51 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno_eNVy_446 View Post
They all sound delicious! This has really inspired me to make a chile pepper beer and the other night in the produce section of Raley's I found myself starring at all of the peppers and contemplating.

I think what I'd like to try is the roasted serrano and ancho in a full 5.5 gallon batch. First of all, you mention the serrano flavor... what is that exactly? Secondly, would you recommend I just scale up your weight from 1 gallon to 5.5. gallons?

Thanks and I can't wait to hear how these turn out in the end!
Awesome!

Serrano and Ancho would probably be nice. Serrano has that unique brightness to it, very distinct (and one of my favs). It's "green" tasting, whereas the ancho is very earthy. You'll get a nice spicy finish with the serrano, it's one of those "time delayed" heats.

When I scale up, my plan was just to scale the weight up exactly as you described. I don't think we have to worry about "capsaicin utilization" like with hops... treat it like a fruit (that's what it is after all).

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Originally Posted by Donner View Post
Did you try freezing any of the peppers before you put them into the secondary? I think i read somewhere that freezing them breaks open the cells and really allows for the peppery goodness to enter the beer. Might also help if you decide to scale up the recipe to a full batch so you don't end up with lbs of peppers in your beer.
I didn't freeze them because they were already dried. I figured the drying would bust up the cells... drying makes the heat come out in peppers so I figure I don't have to do anything else. As far as the serrano goes, I roasted it to damage the cells a bit and to activate the heat. I did slit it down the side a bit. For the larger dried ones, I stabbed them a few times to ensure the beer could get at those seeds. When I took the peppers out they were completely waterlogged so I don't think you really have to worry about it.

If you weren't going to roast fresh peppers, freezing is probably a good idea (again, like fruit).
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Old 07-07-2010, 01:32 AM   #26
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Now that my batch is 85% gone I figured it's time to write up the end of the story! The base beer is a very simply pale ale-ish recipe with Northern Brewer hops. First I'll go through my thoughts on each beer individually.

Ancho: Deep, earthy flavor. Hint of heat, nothing to be scared of at all. The heat is rounded in that it affects the whole palate with just a slight extra touch at the back of the throat. Full flavor, dark fruits... I think if I did it again I'd add more and I'd definitely add more in a beer with more of a malt presence.

Habanero: Wooh! Good amount of heat in the back of the throat. The delicious earthy flavor hits right before the heat but just barely. For me, it's too much heat on its own about 80% of the time... I like heat but I don't normally like to be bombarded with it. It'd be cool to separate out the heat from the flavor but I'm not sure how to do that... I only used 1/4 of a habanero in a gallon after all.

Panca: Wow, starts off like berries then finishes with a very slight peppery punch of heat. Very clean flavor. Delicious on its own, I'm considering doing a panca pils once I get a lagering setup. I would use a little bit more though, the flavor is just a little too light.

Serrano: Definitely my favorite on its own, refreshing summer ale. Clean flavor, nice and green, good balance of heat. I think this and panca would both pair well with lighter beers.

New Mexico: I initially thought this was a bit disappointing and that I didn't use enough, but it's probably my second favorite on its own. Earthy yet clean flavor, almost an 'ancho lite'. Like all the less spicy beers, I could have used more and been happy with it. This feels as though it works best unblended IMO.

---

Blends:
I spent a night mixing and matching the beers in as many combinations as I could think of before I was completely hammered... SWMBO was unable to drink that night so it was up to me to consume 5 beers in the course of half an hour. I managed to choke them down and hopefully could differentiate the flavors! It got a little tough to figure out what I was tasting but I think I got the general trends down.

Things that rocked:

Panca/Serrano - heavenly! The two cleanest peppers combine into a fruity capsaicin heaven! I liked this combo so much that I currently have an american wheat in secondary with this combo with about 20% extra panca.

Habanero/ancho - Excellent combo, would be great with a porter or stout. I plan on brewing up one of these for the winter. Habanero is delicious but since it's so damn hot it's hard to get enough flavor to complement the heat. Ancho fills in that role perfectly. I was thinking it'd be fun to do a high heat and low heat version... one with double the habanero and one with 2.5x the ancho.

Habanero/panca - panca is magical! Great combo, again. The earthy hot punch lasts just a second, punctuating the slight heat from the panca and contrasting nicely with the fruitiness. I had a tough time deciding habanero/panca vs serrano/panca for my american wheat but decided cleaner would be better... plus I'm just a sucker for serrano.

Ancho/serrano/panca - one of my fav combos, quite outstanding. I'm keeping this combo in the back of my head as a 'pale ale' recipe that substitutes peppers for hops. I'd double the amount of panca but keep the other two the same.

Habanero(x0.5)/Ancho/Panca - great combo, balance of clean and earthy, light heat but still definitely present. Ancho/panca was good too but I really liked what Habanero brough tot the table.

Serrano/Ancho - solid combo, a little clean heat, a little deep earthiness. Not sure what type of beer it'd mix with well but I liked the flavor combo in this instance. Was good but may have been the weakest combo of the ones that were good... a little panca really improves it.

---

Things that sucked:

An equal mix of all 5 peppers... sucked. It was just too messy and unfocused. It was by far the worst mix I tried.

New Mexico as a mixer - just seemed weak, even with habanero. Too light yet too earthy... balanced on its own, skews any combo in the wrong direction. It'd be a good option if you're afraid you're going to make your batch too strong, it'll dilute the heat but still keep a solid semi-undefinable pepper presence.

Serrano/habanero - messy, both were hot but in different ways that didn't complement each other, plus it was too much of a clean green flavor vs too much of a sharp earthy flavor. No matter the combination, if both of these were present, I found it disagreeable.

Serrano/New Mexico - meh. Nothing special. NM just seemed bland and watered down the serrano. Perhaps the NM was just weak.

---

Basically... the two hot peppers were great with panca. Panca was the undisputed highlight as a mixer, it made everything brighter and better. Serrano was nice and clean and combined well with ancho and panca and it seems to me would fit right in in a lighter style. Ancho had a deep almost 'grungy' feel and would be perfect in a darker beer, especially when complemented by habanero. Hab is the ass-kicker, giving you that strong pepper heat but when applied in the proper amounts really shines, especially if the flavor is highlighted with ancho. I tried a lot more combos than I took notes on and a lot of them weren't stellar... the ones that really stood out are the ones I took notes on.

I really felt that combinations of two peppers were overall better than combinations of three. Combos of 4 and 5 peppers were all awful. When I say awful, I mean relative to the other combos... I'm sure if I were handed a 5 pepper blend beer I'd enjoy it, but side by side with less 'complex' combinations I thought it was lacking. The only exception might be the hab(x0.5)/ancho/panca which I think would make for a good darker beer with a mild amount of heat.

All in all, a great experiment that I fully enjoyed and I really learned a lot about these peppers and their uses in brewing.


A little note... at bottling the pepper flavors were very pronounced, when the beers were carbing but still a little green the flavors almost disappeared, then when carb'd they came back at about 80% the strength of at bottling... so for all you impatient brewers out there (like me!), don't freak out that your young beer lost its flavor!

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Old 07-07-2010, 01:50 AM   #27
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Very interesting!

I found that the habanero heat goes away quite considerably when the beer is chilled to serving temp. Let me know if you have similar results for the habanero or other beers.
I actually just poured myself a straight up habanero beer and didn't really find that to be the case... it's pretty powerful right out of the fridge. If it gets hotter as I drink it (in this 95 degree heat) I'll edit this post :P
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:50 AM   #28
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I just brewed a 2.5 gallon blonde with hatch chilies (what you called New Mexico chilies). I used three fresh chilies and two roasted. I froze them and then removed the veins and seeds once thawed. I pasturized them in some water and then dumped the whole thing in. My dad grows these peppers, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to try something new and a way to tie two of our hobbies together.

Not a lot of heat, but lots of flavor. At first it was mostly aroma and little flavor, but 7 days in it was less aroma and a lot more flavor. Only a small amount of heat at the end. Hatch chilies are generally used for flavor rather than heat, so I'm not surprised. Sometimes, you can get a really spicy one or a plant that kicks out really spicy peppers.

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Old 07-08-2010, 12:56 AM   #29
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The wife and I are in the process of brewing up a Chipotle/Ancho Chocolate Porter. We're pretty excited, especially after reading these posts. We're planning on putting in 3 dried chipotles, and 2 anchos. Do you think that would be a good combo or should I do 3 and 3? We'll also be adding 4-6 oz of cacoa nibs to the mix. The porter goes into the secondary this weekend.

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Old 07-08-2010, 05:09 AM   #30
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The wife and I are in the process of brewing up a Chipotle/Ancho Chocolate Porter. We're pretty excited, especially after reading these posts. We're planning on putting in 3 dried chipotles, and 2 anchos. Do you think that would be a good combo or should I do 3 and 3? We'll also be adding 4-6 oz of cacoa nibs to the mix. The porter goes into the secondary this weekend.
Holy balls that sounds amazing... not sure on the raito but yes, do it!

EDIT: Just don't forget your Chipotlaway!
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