Good Beer Week is but a distant memory now and as we all look forward to next year’s hop-soaked bacchanalia, let’s cast one bleary eye back to May – specifically to the first event of the week – Grain and Grape’s “Iron Brewer” contest.
Seven professional brewers entered, only one could leave (with the title that is, the rest just left via the door). Each was tasked with brewing a beer on their home brew system, of any style they liked, but ideally one which would celeberate and showcase the mystery ingredient, which was only revealed once all the brewers had mashed in. The mystery ingredient was chilli. Not one but seven different varieties were offered, with brewers allowed to select one in the same order that they mashed in. While Chris pushed for the guajillos, Brendan zeroed straight in on the habaneros – by far the hottest of the bunch (about 100 times hotter than the next hottest and 1000 times hotter than most).
Improbably, his Habanero Whisky Old-Fashioned peated American-style Imperial Stout brewed with mango powder, lemon zest, lemon verbena, Angostura bitters, toasted American oak, cocoa nibs, Tahitian vanilla, peated and rye whiskey and bourbon, was freakin’ delicious, with a chilli heat that packed a real punch.*
Then on a Saturday late in June two forms of judging took place – formal judging to BJCP guidelines, and a People’s Choice vote. Sadly on judging day the HWOFPASIS was too hot to win the judges over (the prize went to Simon Haylock for his Poblano Saison) but was overwhelmingly heralded by the public. The People have spoken – and the People want HABANERO!
In all the chaos and madness of our recipe and method, we found some truly wonderful results, and look forward to brewing some subtle variations of this beer again one day.
More pictures from the day can be found on the Grain and Grape Facebook page.
*Please note, both Chris and Brendan highly recommend that while handling habaneros that you make sure to rub them in your eye and nose so as to best experience the flavour.
Chris post-chilli in the eye
Brendan post-chilli in the eye