How to Ferment Beer Hot Sauce [Hazy IPA Hot Sauce]

by Karl S | Updated: January 23, 2023

This isn’t even spicy, oh oh, it’s spicy. Hey, what’s going on everybody?

For first week feast, I’m Shawn Evans, and you’re watching Hot Ones. It’s the show with hot questions and even hotter wings. Thanks for having me, Sean.

He’s a YouTube juggernaut, technologist, and filmmaker with clout through the roof, but the whole house of cards could come crashing down today if the man taps out before explaining that. Graham, welcome to the show. You ready to get it going? Let’s do it.

I hope you’re ready for some heat, because today we’re whipping up two delicious and spicy hot sauces infused with our favorite beverage.

First up will be a Mexican lager infused tomatillo, poblano, and jalapeno sauce that has a fresh and bright character with a more mild heat. The other will be a hazy IPA mango habanero sauce, bursting with tropical notes and an intense heat.

But really, you can use any of your favorite peppers and whatever beer you’ve got. I just found these combos to be absolutely amazing, and I think you’ll enjoy them too. Let’s jump in and talk about what you’ll need to get started.

For fermenting veg, you can go many ways, but here’s what I recommend: some clean and sanitized mason jars. I like the wide mouth variety, but any type will work. You want to weigh them when empty and write that down. You’ll need it later.

Some sort of airlock is super helpful for controlling fermentation and keeping the bad bugs out that can mess things up. There are a few kinds, like this one that’s rubber and has a hole at the top, or these that require an actual airlock, but I like these ones that just let the CO2 of fermentation escape, but nothing in.

You could of course just lightly screw on a lid, but it’s always a bit of a gamble. Airlocks are pretty foolproof. Another nice-to-have is some sort of weight to hold down the veg during fermentation. Often they sell ones like these with airlocks and a set, and I’ll have a link below with my favorite kit, but this just keeps the veg from reaching the top and touching air, which can lead to spoilage or mold growth.

A scale is needed to ensure we have the right amount of salt for proper fermentation. More on that later. Some gloves will also be handy since we’ll be touching those hot peppers, and of course, a knife to chop.

First up is the poblano, jalapeno, and tomatillo hot sauce. Start with the freshest ingredients you can buy for the best results. I’ll be using three small tomatillos, a poblano, about a half of jalapeno, and a clove of garlic.

In addition, we’ll need salt, kosher or sea salt, but not iodized salt, and then some water. Don’t worry about the beer right now, we’ll add that a little later.

If you’ve never had a tomatillo before, they grow in this husk, which you just have to remove, but you’ll notice it’s quite sticky, so I just washed them with some water to remove the stickiness. The flavor of tomatillo is kind of like a tomato, but slightly more acidic, less sweet, and more dense than a tomato.

It’s kind of its own thing, but it’s really tasty. For all these ingredients, I’m just going to give them a rough chop. You don’t have to be precious here, just enough to fit them into the fermenter jar. 

For the garlic, I just peel it, then smash it, and drop it in. Then chop everything else and add it to the jar. Once they’re all in, you can push them down, or if you have a wooden spoon or something like this tamper, you can press everything down, helping to get those juices released. Then just top off with water until the veg is covered.

Now we just need to weigh this jar with everything in it. Then, using your empty jar weight, you can do this calculation to figure out how much salt to add: weight of everything minus weight of jar times 0.02 equals the salt needed. Basically, what this does is find out how much salt to add to make a two percent salt solution.

This is the ideal zone to keep bad bacteria at bay but make sure that lactobacillus, the good bacteria, can thrive. This works for just about every fermented veg from sauerkraut to pickles and beyond.

So, for this example, my weight was 669 grams minus 285 grams, the weight of my jar, which equals 384 grams times 0.02 equals 7.68, but let’s just call that 8 grams of salt.

Add it in and then you’ll need to make sure it dissolves. I like to just throw in a solid lid of the mason jar and give it a good shake until it’s dissolved and mixed in. If you have a weight, you can now add it on top to keep the veg below that water line.

You can use anything you’ve got to be the weight, even a ziploc bag full of water can work. Then, just add on your airlock and you’re done. Set that on the counter for three to five days while it ferments. We’ll check back on that in a little bit.

For now, let’s move on to the mango habanero sauce. It’s pretty much the exact same process, just changing up the ingredients.

This time we’ll be using five habaneros, that’s right, five, a half cup of mango. You can use fresh if the price is right or frozen works great, plus it’s pre-chopped, which is nice, just thaw it out before using. Then, a garlic clove.

Also, be using half of a red bell pepper to add some more substance since the habaneros can be kind of small. Chop everything up and toss it into the jar, top over with water and take the weight using the calculation again. Fill jar minus empty jar times 0.02 to get your salt addition.

Add it in, shake it up to mix, then add the weight and the airlock and set it on the counter. And right there, you have the start to something amazing. They’ll start out with very saturated colors but you’ll notice the colors fade as it ferments and you also smell that fermentation activity in the next three to five days.

Keep an eye on them.

If you see any green or black mold, just start over, but that likely won’t happen if you use fresh ingredients and use a weight interlock. The longer they sit and ferment, the funkier they can be. So, if you like it less funky, move on to the next step earlier than five days, but whenever you think it’s ready.

We can now finalize the sauce starting with the green sauce. Strain out the liquid leaving just the fermented veg behind and then add that to a blender.

Now it’s time to add the beer. Grab your favorite Mexican lager and crack it open. Step one is to take a drink. Better bonus points if you brew your own beer and use it here.

Okay, now just add a little bit into the blender, just enough to get some liquid for the veg to blend. Once it’s blended, you can slowly add a little bit more. Keep blending until you hit the consistency you like – more runny and smooth, add more beer. More thick and chunky, add less.

You can also strain this mixture again if you want a super smooth final product. The beer not only adds a good flavor to the sauce, but the alcohol and more importantly, the pH or acidity will help the sauce stay for longer. But, if you really want to ensure a long shelf life, adding a bit of distilled vinegar can really lower the pH to help keep that bad bacteria far away.

Now just do the exact same thing for the habanero sauce. Strain the liquid, add it to the blender, add your favorite hazy IPA, taking some sips for yourself of course, blend, and then just keep adding more until you hit that right level of consistency.

The last step is just to add them into some hot sauce bottles. I like to just reuse old sauce bottles that I cleaned out and boom, you got some delicious hot sauces to use for your next meal or share with friends. And just look at those colors. There you have it, two sauces using two beers and the options for you to tweak and make this your own are endless.

And if you do make a beer hot sauce, I’d love to see what you come up with. Send me some pics on Instagram at the brew shop or drop some images in the discord. And if you’re in the mood for some more beer related foods, check out this one that uses spent beer grains. You won’t be disappointed.