Hello. It is me again.
I am the guy who wrote the recent article Popcorn Jalapeño Cream Ale on this blog.
I am sure you have been impatiently waiting to find out how the beer turned out. When I last left you, the Popcorn Cream Ale was fermenting away jalapeño-less in a couple of Mr. Beer fermentors.
Feel free to refresh your memory about the brew day by checking out Popcorn Jalapeño Cream Ale.
The Jalapeños Strike Back
I happen to like chili pepper beers. If I am at a brew pub with a pepper beer on tap, I almost always have to give it a try. I’ve even brewed this home-brew recipe before using flaked corn instead of popcorn. Personally, I want a little heat in my jalapeño beer, but as with most radical flavors in beer, too much is not a good thing.
There are several places in the brewing process in which you can add peppers to your beer. Some brewers add to the boil. Some add the peppers at the beginning of fermentation. Some add to a separate secondary fermentor. For the batch (and the one I did before), I add my peppers to the primary fermentor after the initial “hot and heavy” fermentation is done.
On day four of this particular fermentation, I chopped up five jalapeño peppers. I carefully removed the seeds and that inside white “stuff” (if you know what that white “stuff” inside the pepper is called, leave a comment below). I then put the chopped peppers in a nylon mesh bag.
Then, I soaked the bag of peppers in a mixture of vodka and star san for about 10 minutes. The reason for the mixture is that I thought I was going to use vodka, but I did not have enough to cover the whole bunch of peppers. Star san is what I had to make up the difference. I have been told that this is an unnecessary step as the alcohol and PH of the beer at this point should be enough to kill off any nasties. I don’t have enough faith in that philosophy and figure I am better safe than sorry.
After the 10 minutes of sanitation, I simply put the bag into one of the Mr. Beer fermentors. You know if you read Popcorn Jalapeño Cream Ale that I split a 5 gallon batch so that half would be a chili beer and half would be a nice refreshing session ale.
Then, of course, I waited. I relaxed. I didn’t worry. I had home brews.
Chilis flavor the Beer
So, the jalapeño sat in the beer. The beer sucked out the nice pepper flavor, aroma, and heat. Starting on about day 3 after adding the peppers, I tasted about half a shot glass of beer to see how hot the beer was getting. One nice thing about those little Mr. Beer fermentors is that they have a built-in spigot, making it easy to pour off a small sample.
On the 5th day after adding the peppers, I decided the pepper flavor and heat was about where I wanted it for this beer. I pulled out the sack of jalapeños. If you are trying this at home, I do suggest you keep on top of this. Your personal feelings on how much pepper you want in your beer is probably different from mine.
Bottling the Beer
I keg most of my beers, but I do still bottle some. As I had two half-size batches, I knew from the beginning that this beer would be bottled. If you are reading this, I assume you Home-Brew and therefore know how to bottle.
One thing I might do a bit differently than the typical bottler is that I actually put my priming sugar solution and beer into a corny keg. I bottle using a Beer Gun under carbon dioxide pressure. I find that bottling goes a little smoother this way, although it might just be that I enjoy using the toy.
So, after bottling up both mini-batches of beer, I let them sit at room temperature for a couple of weeks while they carbonated up.
Drinking the Beer
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, but was actually only 4 weeks, I sampled my finished beer.
Visually, both beers came out with a hazy golden orange color. Both had white heads. The non-pepper beer was considerably thicker and longer lasting. On the last jalapeño beer I did, the head formation and retention improved with time, so it will be interesting to find out if this is the case again. I think the clarity of the beer is likely to improve as well.
The aromas were very different. The jalapeño beer smelled like … well …. like jalapeño peppers. The non-jalapeño beer … well … didn’t. I might have been imagining it, but I do think I got some pop-corn aroma from the non-jalapeño beer.
I loved the flavor of the jalapeño beer. Yes, I detected the popcorn. It sort of reminded me of corn-chips. Of course the jalapeño flavor combined to make (for me) a pleasant sensory experience that really reminded me of nachos. There was a bit of heat that I could feel in the back of my throat, but not too much. It was less than the last time I did a jalapeño beer. Personally I think this is good. I attribute it to the fact that I took out the jalapeño seeds this time (I didn’t last time).
I detected a bit more popcorn flavor in the non-jalapeño. It is a nice tasty beer with just enough bitterness to balance out the malts. It is a little biscuity with a bit of honey (from the honey malt I would guess).
Overall, I am very pleased with both beers. I am looking forward to drinking either or both with my wife’s tacos. I would also like them with hamburgers or brats grilled in my backyard. Heck, I’ll drink them with just about anything. They are great summer beers.
Anything I missed?
So, what do you think? Popcorn Jalapeño Cream Ale seemed to get a bunch of facebook likes and tweets, so I know someone out there is interested in this beer. I have not gotten a lot of comments, so I for the most part I don’t know what was said.
Questions? Comments? If you have made a beer with jalapeños and / or popcorn, let me know how it went.
Feel free to look over my recipe (follow this hyperlink) and let me know what you would do differently. Or, if you have or will brew something close to my recipe, I would really like to hear from you.
Let me know what you think (leave comments below).