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  C Why Brew with Chiles? C hile! In beer? Nothing strikes more fear into the hearts of beer judges than the words chile beer  . “That one will defi-nitely have to be judged last in the flight—wouldn’t wantto ruin our palates, would we?”  What would possess a brewer to deliberately put hot chilepeppers into a perfectly good beer, and why would anyonedrink it? Let’s peel this chile and see.   Why Brew with Chiles? In New Mexico, where the official state question is “red orgreen?” it’s just natural to want to put chile in beer. Red orgreen refers to your choice of chile to be slathered on top of your meal. Appropriate answers also include “Christmas,” inwhich case you receive both. New Mexican cuisine constitutesan homage to the chile plant, with dishes such as carne adova-da (hunks of pork stewed in red chile sauce), chile re-llenos (whole green chiles stuffed with cheese, battered and deepfried) and huevos rancheros (a fried egg or two served on ablue corn tortilla, smothered in red or green chile), to saynothing of the more pedestrian enchiladas, tamales, burritosand tacos.“Chile,” by the way, is the preferred spelling in New Mexi-co. “Chili” is that eastern/Texan concoction of tomatoes, beansand meat, and “chilli” is the spice powder mixture that con-tains ground chile and other things like cumin. Sure, chili isgood in its own right, but that’s not what we’re talking about.  be completely wrong. But New Mexicansare quick to tell you that it is also the fla- vor of the chile that they crave. I guessthere is no simple explanation for thedesire to infuse beer with chile except forthe uncontrollable urge to put chile intoeverything. All that is left is to determinehow to do it well.  Drinking Chile Beer  When is the best time to drink a chilebeer? A tall, cold, spicy one goes naturally with New Mexican food, blending with andaccenting the southwestern flavors. Youmight think chile beer is merely a novelty forthe tourists, but the locals buy it by the pitch-er to drink with chips—no salsa necessary.Chile beers vary greatly in flavor andheat. Some are so mild that only the chileflavor comes through, such as Rio GrandeBrewing’s golden Pancho Verde ChileCerveza, which has won Great AmericanBeer Festival ® medals. Others are so hot thata sip will make your buds think that thebarn is on fire and there’s not a bucket of  water in sight. Personally, I prefer a beer with lots of chile flavor and a smooth burnthat builds and lets you know the chile isthere without making you want to cut out your own tongue. There is even some vari-ation in the way the burn comes through:some chile beers have an afterburn in theback of your throat after you swallow, oth-ers have a sneaky, slow-growing burn thatis only evident after a half pint or so.The color characteristics of chile beersare strangely consistent, as if New Mexi-can brewers had subconsciously followedthe prescriptions of Belgian monks. Greenchile beers are usually pale, with either a wheat beer or pale ale as a base, but redchile beers are usually a variation on thebrown ale theme. Chile beers uniformly have poor headretention because of the chile’s oils. Oftenpale chile beers will show a haze, but thisdepends on how the peppers were added and whether or not the beer was filtered. A goodchile beer will have a prominent chile aroma,but common flaws include a vegetable smelland/or a sour taste, depending on the way thechiles were processed. You can choose toenhance the pleasant aromas of smokiness(from the roasting process), earthiness androasted grain in chile beers as well. Chile Characteristics The genus Capsicum is comprised of  various peppers, from the innocuous greenbell pepper and pimento to the searingScotch bonnet and habañero. Columbus was the one who started the confusion 24   ZYMURGY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2002 WWW.BEERTOWN.ORG    C   H   I   L   E   P   E   P   P   E   R   P   H   O   T   O   S   ©   2   0   0   2   P   H   O   T   O   D   I   S   C   A   N   D   T   H   E   C   H   I   L   E   P   E   P   P   E   R   I   N   S   T   I   T   U   T   E .   B   E   E   R   P   H   O   T   O   B   Y   B   O   B   G   O   L   D   M   A   N Pepper TypeScoville UnitsColorMinMax Pure capsaicin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16,000,000Habañero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95,000 . . . . . . . . .577,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Orange Scotch Bonnet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100,000 . . . . . . . . .350,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/Yellow Jamaican Hot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100,000 . . . . . . . . .200,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red Thai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50,000 . . . . . . . . .350,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red Chiltepín . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50,000 . . . . . . . . .100,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red-orange Pequín . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30,000 . . . . . . . . . .85,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedCayenne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30,000 . . . . . . . . .125,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red Tabasco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15,000 . . . . . . . . . .50,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedSerrano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . .50,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedChile de Arból . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15,000 . . . . . . . . . .30,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedChipotle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . .10,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Black Jalapeño . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . .8,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .GreenGuajillo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500 . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .GreenMirasol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500 . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red Pulla . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .700 . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red-purpleNew Mexican . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenNM: Española Improved . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenCochiti . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . .5,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenCherry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 . . . . . . . . . . .3,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedRocotillo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedNM: Sandia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenNM: Chimayó . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenPasilla . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .BlackCascabel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .BlackNumex Big Jim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenAnaheim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 . . . . . . . . . . .2,500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenNM: Jemez . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500 . . . . . . . . . . .2,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenNM: Española . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000 . . . . . . . . . . .2,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenAncho . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000 . . . . . . . . . . .2,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Purple-blackPoblano . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000 . . . . . . . . . . .2,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .GreenPepperoncini . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .200 . . . . . . . . . . .1,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/GreenBell Pepper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .600 . . . . .Red/Green/Yellow/OrangePaprika, Pimento . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .RedSweet Italian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Red/Green More acres of chile are grown in NewMexico than in all the other states com-bined, and more chiles are consumed inNew Mexico per capita than in any otherstate. You might think it’s the pain-killingendorphins produced by the brain thatnullify a burning tongue and keep peoplecoming back for more, and you wouldn’t  Green chiles, t    he younger fruits, are flame-roast    eduntil the skin is blist    eredand blackened. The aroma of freshly roast    ed chiles fromstreet-side vendors is a familiar aut    umn experience t    hat draws cust    omers likemot    hs t    o a flame.  with pepper when he mistakenly thoughtthat he had discovered the black pepperplant (true pepper is Piper nigrum , and isnot related to the chile).The defining characteristic of hot chilesis the chemical 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-none-namide, also known as capsaicin. The heatintensity of a particular chile can be mea-sured by the amount of capsaicin present.One popular method is the Scoville RatingSystem, where one part per million of cap-saicin equals 16 Scoville units. New Mexi-co chiles, both green and red, range from100 to 5,000 Scoville units, jalapeños varyfrom 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units andhabañeros burn up the charts with up to577,000 Scoville units. Thus, New Mexicanchiles are by no means the hottest, butmany consider them to be among the mostflavorful. See sidebar for a comparison of chile pepper heat ratings.New Mexican chile beers are most com-monly made with—surprise—New Mexi-can green and red chiles. The chiles comefrom the same plant, but are picked at dif-ferent stages of maturity. Green chiles, the younger fruits, are flame roasted until theskin is blistered and blackened. The aromaof freshly roasted chiles from street-side vendors is a familiar autumn experiencethat draws customers like moths to a flame.The vendors, many of whom are local chilefarmers, roast them in large metal meshdrums that rotate to keep the peppers fromscorching over the propane flame.  After roasting, the chiles are put intoplastic bags to “sweat,” which helps to 25    WWW.BEERTOWN.ORG ZYMURGY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2002 For 5 U.S. gal (19 L) 15lb (6.8 kg) Clover honey1lb (0.45 kg) fresh roastedNew Mexican greenchiles, unpeeled2packages Lalvin K1V-1116(Montpelier) yeastãOG: 1.115Brewer’s Specifics  Add water, honey and chiles. Topasteurize, hold at 170° F (77° C) for30 minutes. Cool and pitch thehydrated yeast. Rack off the chilesafter fermentation activity diesdown, usually about a month. Brewed by Steve Eskeback at Eske’s Brewpub in Taos, N.M., and winnerof the bronze medal in the Fruit and Vegetable Beer category at the1993 Great American Beer Festival ® . For 5 U.S. gal (19 L) 7.0lb (3.2 kg) pale ale malt 1.0lb (0.45 kg) malted wheat0.5oz (14 g) Chinook hops, 13.2% AA (90 min)0.5oz (14 g) Chinook hops, 13.2% AA (60 min)1.0oz(28 g) Cascade hops (finish)1.0lb (0.45 kg) fresh roasted New Mexico green chilesWyeast No. 1187 Ringwood ale yeastãOG: 1.039–1.041ãFG: 1.008–1.010Brewer’s Specifics Conduct a short (five to 10 minute) protein rest at 122°F (50°C) then saccharification rest at150°F (66°C) for 10 to 15 minutes followed by a rest at 158°F (70°C) until conversion is com-plete. Eskeback uses Sandia chiles from Taos Chile Brothers Roasting Co. Put fresh roasted greenchiles (unpeeled) in a grain bag and add to the beer after fermentation (think dry-hopping withchile). Leave beer in contact with the chiles for a week, then squeeze the bag and remove.
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