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brigbrew

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I'm getting ready to brew a jalapeno cream ale next month, and I've been combing the threads for info on brewing with peppers. I had a jalapeño pilsner in Fort Collins a decade ago and it was the best nachos pairing ever. I've wanted to brew one ever since. Here's what I've gleaned so far:

- Seeds and veins give you heat. If you want more flavor, get rid of them.
- Adding the peppers to the boil gives you less heat and more flavor, adding to secondary gives you heat.
- If you do not remove the pepper from secondary or wherever it dropped, heat will continue to increase until it becomes undrinkable.
- Heat will mellow with time if the pepper is gone.
- Roasting, freezing and thawing will break down cell walls. (Does this help with flavor utilization?)
-# of peppers added ranges from 1 to 25. (Not really helpful, but I plan to err on the conservative side to ensure drinkability)
-Jalapeños have a high heat to flavor recipe.
-Serranos are another commonly used pepper (how do these compare in heat/flavor ratio to jalapeños?

I decided to just put all of this information in one place and ask the collective to chime in with their experiences and opinions. I'm looking to brew a cream ale with nice pepper finish but little to no heat, but I'm sure others have different tastes and might be looking for some control. Thoughts?
 

jperry

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I know that serrano peppers are a good amount hotter than jalapenos. I would start experimenting with a very low amount of peppers, maybe just a couple deveined peppers in 5 gal, and decide where to go from there. I've seen a few threads on here about ruining the beer with too much heat, so be careful. I dont know much on the subject or else i'd answer more for you... good luck!
 

OhReally

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Jalapeño cream ale?!? Now that's what I'm talking about!! :) My interest is definitely peaked. This idea combines two good things: spice and beer. Are you brewing extract or AG?
 

45_70sharps

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I'm planning on making some pepper beer this weekend.
Not sure of the peppers yet because I have to see what i find.
I will take notes though!
 

UtahNate

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Nachos and a jalapeno beer sounds like a fantastic pairing. Will definitely be taking notes.

Sorry that I don't have anything to add... Have just gotten started with home brewing.
 

Patro

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You may want to taste your peppers before brewing with them. I've been dissapointed while cooking by getting habenero and jalapeño peppers with very little heat, and the occasional pepper that's uncharacteristically hot. Never brewed or tried a pepper beer though.
 

signpost

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I had a jalapeno amber ale over the summer, and have thought about trying to brew one myself. OP, thanks for collecting those thoughts.
 

Backporchbrewery

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I brewed a Jalapeno Wheat once that turned out great. It was a basic american wheat recipe, but I added a pound of honey malt to add something to balance out any pepper heat. I used ~7oz fresh jalapenos @15min left in the boil, then removed them at flameout (had them in a hop bag). For prep, I removed the seeds and just cut into quarters. The beer left the jalapeno flavor on the finish and limited the heat from the pepper. Turned out great!
 
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brigbrew

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jperry said:
I know that serrano peppers are a good amount hotter than jalapenos. I would start experimenting with a very low amount of peppers, maybe just a couple deveined peppers in 5 gal, and decide where to go from there. I've seen a few threads on here about ruining the beer with too much heat, so be careful. I dont know much on the subject or else i'd answer more for you... good luck!
Agreed. I haven't seen a single thread that complained of too little heat or that the none of the flavor came through.

Another interesting point I forgot to mention was the skin. I saw a thread on leaving the skin on to add a smoky flavor. Did anyone else have that experience?
 

HopSong

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As is grilling/searing the japs? Caramelize them a tad. Sounds good.

I have some good jap vodka.. tried a couple ml's in a pint and the flavor came through but no heat. Not sure I want the heat in my beer.. but the flavor was a nice change.
 
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brigbrew

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So the plan is to brew a Jalapeno Cream Ale next weekend. I thought I'd post my plans here ahead of time to see if y'all have any suggestions or feedback. Also, I decided to abandon kits and use Jamil's Cream Ale for the basic recipe.

3.3 lb. Pilsner LME
3.3 lb. Light LME
1.7 lb. Rice Syrup

Liberty 4% AAU 1oz. @ 60 min
2-4 jalapenos, deseeded/deveined/chopped/skin on @ 30 min
Liberty 4% AAU .5 oz @ 1 min

Looking for yeast suggestions... I've seen Nottingham dry, Wyeast 1056 and WLP080 in a lot of cream ale recipes.

What I'm going for a light, refreshing quaff with a nice pepper flavor, but little to no heat. A perfect pairing with nachos. The plan is to roast, then freeze the pepper overnight and thaw during prep. I also decided to err on the light side with the pepper, rather than risk overdoing. Better to have subtlety, I think. I'm also on the fence about dry hopping another few peppers in for the last week of primary. I want the more complex flavor, but I want to minimize the heat. Suggestions?
 

HopSong

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I've not done it yet.. but, will likely do this recipe in the spring. I absolutely love to chomp japs.. and love to stuff them with cream cheese and smoked salmon.. IOW, I'm a jap nut..

BUT, for a brew.. I'm going to err on the light side. I'll brew a 2.5 gallon batch and use one jap. If that seems too light, the next time I'll go 1.5 or 2 max. I really want the cream all with only a hint of the pepper.

But, that's me.
 
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I disagree about boiling = flavor; secondary = heat. I find it is the other way around. Boiling drives off a lot of the aromatics and breaks down the flavor (think hops boiled 60 min versus dry hopped) while peppers in secondary release the flavor and some of the heat. I think you can to your conclusion because a lot of people like to throw too much in secondary and it ends up being too spicy. Although lots of brewers in CO seem to add the peppers at the end of the boil with a few minutes left or at flame out and get some different flavor. That will work, too.

The easiest way to add peppers is definitely in secondary because you can add and taste daily to see when it reaches the right flavor profile and heat. If it isn't getting hot enough for you, add more peppers. You just can't take heat away from your beer.
 

Tamarlane

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If you dry the peppers and toast them in a skillet then make a tea with vodka you will get a richer flavor then just dropping them in the kettle or secondary.
 
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brigbrew

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But won't that also add more heat? Or is the key to minimizing heat in getting rid of seeds and veins?
 
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brigbrew

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So I brewed this beer today using the recipe I listed above and pitched 1056. Threw in 4 grilled and halved peppers at 20 min left in the boil. OG was 1.055. Couldn't taste any pepper or heat in the wort sample. I held two peppers back and have them soaking in vodka to add next week of it needs more flavor.
 
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brigbrew

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Took my first sample tonight, 7 days in primary. Sample was pretty clear already with a subtle but definite pepper finish and no heat. Exactly was I was looking for. Decided to press my luck and dropped in two more peppers (bagged for extraction) into the carboy. Held the soaking vodka back but saved it just in case. Maybe I'll split the batch at bottling and see how the vodka affects the final product.
 
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brigbrew

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Oh, damn, this beer is amazing! 24 hours of dry hopping the jalapeños and a couple more days to clear and I just took a gravity reading of 1.013, which gives me a 6.1 ABV. Nice, clear and dry with a clear pepper finish and zero heat. If the reading is stable tomorrow, I'll be bottling.
 
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brigbrew

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Bottled the batch a few days back. FG was 1.012, 6.25 ABV. The pepper taste is perhaps a bit too forward right now, but based on what I've read I expect the green-ness to fade in the next few weeks. No heat at all, except the faintest tickle after finishing the sample. Planning on making up a big plate of nachos in about a week and see how this batch fares with its intended food pairing. I'll be sure to post photos.
 

Seedly

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I did a Peppered ESB as a gift for my father in law. I actually intended to have some heat in the beer, but as it turned out the beer had zero heat and scads of pepper flavor.

I used 1 pablano, 2 jalapeno, and 2 serrano peppers all de-seeded, de-vined, and grilled. I also used a touch of rauch malt to add some smokiness.

Added the peppers to the primary for 7 days.

One final thing. I was worried about making the beer too hot so I split the batch for fermentation (2.5 gal in 2 fermenters). the idea being that if you over-do it, you can blend the un-peppered portion to reduce the heat. Turned out it was unnecessary as the beer was under-peppered for what I wanted.
 

krackin

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When you seeded and removed the membrane you removed most of the capsasin retaining parts. Next time around leave the membrane and half the seeds if not all, then grill. Poblanos are not especially hot to start with but are kick butt grilled for cheeseburgers.
 

BaronAaron

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I made an excellent chili beer using Serrano peppers in the boil and big Anaheim chilies in the secondary, it had great green chili flavor. I made it with a blonde ale base and 4 small Serranos (boil 60m) and 4 big Anaheims (secondary 1wk). I think ReverseApacheMaster has it right with the boiling and the secondary additions, boiling will extract heat and a little flavor, and adding to the secondary will add a little heat but mostly flavor. Another thing to consider is that the heat will fade as it ages. My green chili beer started with little heat when it was fresh, but had very little heat left after a month in the bottle.
 
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brigbrew

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My experience has been different with heat. I added four jalapeños into the boil at 20 minutes and got good subtle flavor with no heat.

I think it may just come down to how the peppers are prepared. I was diligent about removing all of the seeds and veining. That probably has more effect than anything else.

I guess I'll just have to drink this batch and brew a few more to test the theory!
 
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brigbrew

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Seven days in the bottle and plenty good to drink. I downed two with dinner. Pepper flavor had taken more of a backseat, which I think just makes it even more of a sessionable brew.

This is going back on the brew schedule after the new year!

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