The inspiration for this brew came from the absolute best chile beer I’ve had in my life – at a restaurant in Fort Collins, Colorado. Normally, when I am out on a beer tasting adventure I drink as little of each beer as possible – so that I can try a lot of different beers. However, this beer was so good that I had to order seconds. The brew had lots of chile flavor, with very mild heat. It was incredibly well balanced, light, crisp and refreshing – and this from a guy who isn’t a fan of blond ales. But the malt wasn’t the key; it was the add-in, that made this beer special.
In an attempt to mimic this chile beer we opted for fresh jalapenos – not knowing what the original brewers used in their “Hot Blonde.” Jalapenos are a natural choice because they are inexpensive and easily available at your local retailer.
The jalapeno was initially cut into slices as per the photos. This, however, did not make it through the funnel into the primary carboy. In a successive brew, we actually minced the jalapeno with a Cuisanart. The minced jalapeno was added at the end of the boil. The tasting notes at the end of this post, however, refer to the former experiment.
Given the addition of jalapeno to the wort, the wort faintly smelled and tasted of jalapeno when we sampled. We ended up adding the same thinly sliced jalapenos into the primary carboy. Best practice dictates cutting the jalapenos into smaller pieces – as per using the Cuisinart. To get even more out of the jalapenos, one could puree them. For this batch, we’re reporting on the results we got with coarsely cut jalapeno chunks.
The Difference in Original Gravity
The difference in original gravity was just -0.002. Of our batches brewed for the day, this was some of the smallest differences we saw. The difference should be negligible. In this instance, the efficiency calculation of just 60% was spot on. This is despite milling the grain only use.
After two weeks in the primary, two weeks in the secondary, and a final two weeks of bottle-conditioning the brew was ready to enjoy. When sampling the brew, it was easy to identify the jalapeno notes on the nose. (It smelled like jalapeno.) It was not entirely subtle. Multiple folks who sampled the beer reported getting a whiff of pepper before ever drinking the beer. The nose is just plain fun, but misleading because the nose is more prominent than the flavor or heat existent in the actual beer. But perhaps it’s a good balance for white people. That is to say that the heat was also present, but mildly so. In total, the beer itself is good.
Thought, while it is good, but I want a lot more pepper flavor and a bit more heat. It’s the pepper flavor that I recall from Colorado that was my inspiration for this beer. I want more of it! However, adding more jalapenos to get more flavor would also result in more heat. So what’s the solution? Adding peppers without heat – like the sweet red peppers in the photo above.
Jalapeno Blond #2?
Going forward, it would be interesting to try some tweaks on this same recipe. Some ideas include:
• Adding more sweet peppers
• Adding sweet peppers at multiple stages of the process
• Before the boil
• At the end of the boil
• In the primary fermenter
• In the secondary fermenter
• In the bottle!?
• Pureeing the jalapeno (previously mentioned)
• Experimenting with other chiles, instead of just adding sweet peppers to the jalapeno chiles
• Adding capsaicin extract