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Spiced Chili Beer

Classification: spiced ale, chili beer, szechuan chili, extract

Source: Robert Rybczynski (, HBD Issue #1706, 4/15/95

About 2 months ago I asked a few questions regarding the use of dry chiles in beer. I received some interesting and helpful suggestions. In the end I did my best to combine this collective wisdom, but my first attempt is no stunning success. Neither is it a failure. It's slightly warming with no chile aroma. Here's the recipe for 5 gallons.



Removed stems and seed from chiles. Boiled extract and hops in ~3 gallons of water for 1 hour. Steeped chiles from 10 minutes, then discarded them. Started yeast in a small yeast starter. Pitched when wort cooled (I don't have a wort chiller). Bottled approx. 10 days later with priming sugar.

Before bottling I used a wine thief to taste the beer. Since the heat from the chile was low I decided to steam a few chiles and "dry spice" in the bottle. I also made two bottles with unsteamed chiles.

I'm not going to throw the chiles in the brew pot again. Very little spice was contributed from the six chiles I steeped.

I'll not put one chile in each bottle again, either. Fortunately, I limited this to 8 beers. The steamed chiles made the brew overpowering. The unsteamed chiles were worse, with a mild infection that caused those beers to become hazy. The problem is not the heat. The dry spiced bottles are about as hot as Pace hot salsa. It's the chile aroma that makes the beer undrinkable.

My next attempt will utilize dry spicing in the fermenter. I'll try 6 to 8 steamed chiles in a musslin bag. Also, I'll put more hops in the boil (1.5 oz of similar bittering hops). The chiles seem to provide heat and aroma, which leaves flavor wide open to bittering.