We made a second running of the chili pepper beer, though there were a few changes to the recipe that made for some interesting new flavors. The majority of these changes were on the basis of ingredient availability.
Whereas last time, we used habanero peppers for heat and chipotle peppers to give a smoky flavor, the grocery store, unfortunately, was out of habaneros when I went to acquire ingredients to make another batch of our (outstanding) recipe. Instead, I picked up the peppers with the highest Scoville rating out of what the store had available, eventually settling on serrano huasteco. Unfortunately, they’re only 1/10th as hot as habaneros.
So, with the same number of chipotles, but replacing habaneros with serranos, to secondary we went. After a few days, we still weren’t getting the heat we wanted (oh, the glory of a spigoted ale pail), so it was back to the grocery store to purchase habaneros. We threw a couple of those bad boys in, and then waited a week or so.
Eventually, we tested again, and the beer had plenty of heat, but not the smoky flavor we wanted. Using a slotted spoon, we scooped out most of the hot peppers, but left the chipotles. I kegged five days later…
This edition is much hotter than the first, primarily since the peppers stayed in secondary longer. Whereas batch #1 would sneak up on you after a couple sips, this one isn’t hiding any heat. It also has a different flavor mix, with a bit more earthiness (from the serranos) to go along with the heat. Alas, the chipotle smokiness is covered up by the other things.
If we were to make this beer again (something I think is probably pretty likely), I would prefer to make it from the original recipe, with an emphasis on the smoky flavors, and just enough heat to complement that. Regardless, I’m good to relax and not worry…