Afterburner Pepper Ale Recipe
Greetings, and welcome to another Recipe of the Month blog post! This month, we will be looking at making a pepper ale with just a little heat on the back end that I like to call Afterburner Pepper Ale. This beer has a simple amber base, but incorporates a light tincture made with deseeded Japones chili peppers to give it just a little heat on the backend.
This recipe started as an attempt at a pepper beer for part of our Brewer’s Reserve line of beer kits. We don’t currently have a pepper beer, but customers have expressed interest in making a pepper beer, so we set to work. Using the Japones dried chili peppers that we started getting through one of our suppliers, we set to work. We figured an amber ale would be a good base for such a beer. Not too light in color and body, yet not too dark either. We went with a pretty simple base recipe without too much to cover up the pepper heat or flavor. Next, we tried to decide how to incorporate the peppers. As making a tincture with the peppers was recommended many times in the research, we decided to go this route. We tried making them with various amounts of peppers, both seeded and deseeded. We found the best results, which gave some heat but wasn’t overpowering, came by soaking about 0.5 oz of these deseeded Japones peppers in enough vodka to cover in a mason jar for about 7 days, shaking them a bit every day. NOTE: to increase heat and pepper character, you can leave the seeds in, use more peppers, or do a combination of both.
With our test batch made and the tincture added (straining out the actual peppers when adding to the keg, which you could also do at bottling time), we gave it a try. While we did get some heat on the back end with the test, we were worried that there wasn’t enough pepper flavor. Afterburner was then put on the backburner, and we had a keg of a pepper beer that was forgotten about for a week or two.
Needing something to put on our kegerator in the front of the store, we figured we’d burn through the Afterburner (silly pun intended) and put it on. The response we have gotten has been surprisingly positive! Customers told us this was the pepper beer they wanted to make, that it had just a touch of heat on the back end, but was not overpowering. As for our perceived lack of pepper flavor, that did not seem to be the case for most people, who liked the touch of spice on top of the malty amber base.
While we did not release this as a Brewer’s Reserve kit (yet), we decided that it would be a good beer to try as a recipe of the month blog. If you have been thinking about trying your hand at a pepper beer, this might be a great place to start. So without further ado, we present Afterburner Pepper Ale. Cheers and Happy Brewing!
Afterburner Pepper Ale Recipe (final vol. of 5.5 gallons)
Estimated O.G. = 1.052
Estimated F.G. = 1.015
Estimated ABV = 4.8%
Estimated bitterness = 28
Estimated SRM: 13
10 lbs. 2-Row Brewer’s Malt
0.5 lbs. Biscuit Malt
0.5 lb. Crystal 120L Malt
0.25 lb. Pale Chocolate Malt
0.5 oz. Columbus pellet hops (14.9% AA), added at the beginning of the 60 minute boil.
0.5 oz. Cascade pellet hops added with 10 minutes left in the boil.
1-2 packs (or make an appropriate starter) of Wyeast 1968 London ESB yeast, White Labs WLP 002 English Ale, or 1-2 packs of dry Safale S-04 yeast. You might also use 1 can of Imperial Organic Yeast A09 Pub.
Japones Chili Pepper Tincture Instructions
To make the pepper tincture, take 0.5 oz dried Japones chilies, deseeded and soaked in enough vodka to cover (around 6 oz) for 1 week. You can put in a mason jar and shake once a day. For more heat and pepper character, you can do more peppers, leave the seeds in, or a combination of both. However, we have had good luck with 0.5 oz of deseeded Japones chili peppers. This gives you a beer with just a little heat in the back end.
- Mash at 151-153F for 60 minutes. A mash-out at 168-170F for 15 minutes is recommended, but not necessary. Drain, sparge, and proceed with a 60 minute boil.
- Chill to 66-68F and pitch yeast. Ferment at 66F for two weeks before bottling or kegging.
- A secondary fermentation for one week to improve clarity and reduce sedimentation is optional.
- Pepper tincture is added at bottling or kegging time. You can use a strainer to strain out the peppers when adding to the bottling bucket or keg.
- Extract Version:Replace the 2-row brewer’s malt with 6 lbs of light dry malt extract . Steep the specialty grains (biscuit, crystal 120L and pale chocolate) at 150-155F for 30 minutes using a muslin grain bag. Remove the bag, allowing the grains to drain into the boil kettle. Turn off the flame and dissolve the extract in the kettle. Turn the flame back on, bring to a boil and proceed as above. NOTE: as the extract version is slightly different than the all-grain, you may have a slightly different gravity before and/or after fermentation.