A very much belated installment of Irregular Zymurgy - batch number 02-6

In the first part of this year, I had adhered to a rigorous brewing schedule, I had at least one batch of ale fermenting at anytime through mid-May. I don't know how my intentions were derailed, but I found the ingredients for this batch on the sidetable in the dining room, the receipt inside the bag was dated over two months ago.

Last fall, one of my housemates made a beer to which he added jalapeno chilis during the fermentation. The result was a golden-colored, and, even when chilled, tingled the lips and had a spicy aftertaste. I was inspired by this example, however I choose ancho and chipotle chilis for a warmer, smoky flavor.

    As usual, I began by boiling
  • 2 ½ gal filtered water,
    and in a separate pot I set
  • ½ lb crystal 15L malt and water to cover
    over a low flame and brought it to the brink of boil.
    This is a new step, as I had burned my last grain bag, so I thought to make a tea of the crushed grains separately, then strain them into the main pot once it boiled. After that boiled, I poured
  • 5 ¾ lbs ultra light malt extract and
  • 1 lb sage blossom honey
    into the boiling water and stirred so that it wouldn't settle to the bottom of the pot and burn. After the pot returned to boiling, I added the bittering hops
  • 1 oz Northern Brewer and
  • 1 oz Cascade.
    I took a bottle of beer out to the porch and read a magazine for about 60 minutes while this boiled. At the end of the hour, I turned the heat off and threw in (another)
  • 1 oz Cascade hops for fragrance,
  • 3 dry ancho chilis and
  • 3 dry chipotle chilis, split so that the seeds could mix into the wort.
    This steeped for 20-25 minutes, until the flesh of the ancho chilis had reconstituted. Then I strained the wort into a bucket with a some ice in it to help cool it down. Later, I decanted it into a carboy and pitched in Wyeast strain #1056 "American Ale". This yeast got a special blessing, for I was feeling unsure of its ability to propagate in the presence of the combined anti-bacterial properties of both hops and chilis.

That evening, conform came over and we reprised the spring's ales, both my Belgian Ale and my Scotch Ale, which have remained drinkable through this summer. However, I can see the back of my beer cupboard, there aren't many bottles left in it, so this batch will have to be ready soon.

Update Sat Aug 3 2002

This afternoon I racked the ale from the carboy into another, clean one. Part of the fun of syphoning ale is helping yourself to a taste. This ale is not tasting quite as spicy as I had hoped, so I added more chilis: 5 chipotle and 2 ancho, as well as another 1 oz Cascade hops. The racking procedure left about a quart and a half of sludge from the grain and hops in the first carboy. This gets flushed down the toilet.

Update Tue Aug 6 2002

This evening bindlenix and I bottled the ale. It displays a sweet smoky bouquet from the roasted chilis, and a good amount of capsaicin comes through in the taste. I can hardly wait the three weeks until it has properly bottle conditioned.

About an hour after finishing the bottling and cleaning, I realized that the back of my right hand was burning. There were no scratches or cuts. As I applied calmine lotion I tried to figure out just what I had done to myself. What I think happened is that the capsaicin left behind in the spent hops and chilis I pulled out of the carboy burnt the skin on my hand.