Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Climbing the summit of (beer) heat

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2011 at 8:16 AM

I attended this past weekend's Summit Brewfest at the Norris Penrose Event Center.

And so did a crap-ton of other people:

Lines werent only long to get into the event, but they also formed in front of most sample tables by mid event.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Lines weren't only long to get into the event, but they also formed in front of most sample tables by mid event.

Many attendees played pool, on account of the American Poolplayers Association's involvement with the event:

The more you drink, the straighter those shots get ... yeah.

And I particularly loved the clomping around on the dark soil in the indoor arena, a fine staging area for consuming a bunch of top-caliber craft beer:

Beer looks good in earthtones.

But rather than blathering on simplistically with what you already can assume about something called a "brewfest" — that nearly 30 breweries were in attendance and that sampling a bunch of excellent Colorado beer is fun — I'm going to focus on on particular beer style that I enjoyed at this year's event.

And that would be chili beer.

I first sampled San Luis Valley Brewing Company's Valle Caliente chili beer.

That is a big chili and I am happy to see you.

It's a light, Mexican-style lager made with a blend of mild and hot New Mexico Hatch chilies. It's not too hot at all but delivers a nice, clean chili flavor that of course would pair beautifully with a nice Mexican meal.

Then, I tried Twisted Pine Brewing's Billy's Chillies beer (which I have had before).

Jayson DeBellis, whose title on his business card actually reads avocado ambassador, chatted with me about all things chili at Twisted Pine.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Jayson DeBellis, whose title on his business card actually reads "avocado ambassador," chatted with me about all things chili at Twisted Pine.

This too is a fine, light chili beer, but will a little more kick and character from the use of five different chilies: serranos, habeñeros, jalapeños, Anaheims and Fresno chili peppers.

Discussing this beer with Twisted Pine rep Jayson DeBellis led us to talking about the brewery's much-hyped Cinco de Mayo release a couple weeks back: the Ghost Face Killah.

As this Westword blog post cites (with links), Ghost Face Killah, brewed to perhaps be the hottest beer in the world (apparently a submission has been made to the Guinness Book of World Records), has already received attention from the likes of Rolling Stone magazine and the L.A. Times.

DeBellis says he was the brewery's guinea pig as it was concocting the proper proportion of both fresh and powdered ghost chilies (bhut jolokia, one of the world's hottest peppers) to add to a base that's basically the Billy's Chillies beer. Let's just leave further description on that process to the phrase, "fire in the hole."

Anyway, Twisted Pine only bottled 100 cases of the beer, and DeBellis had a list with him on Saturday of Colorado Springs liquor stores that received shipments. Coaltrain Wine & Spirits, which was on my way home, happened to be one of those places.

Drink me when you want a little burn with your brew.
  • Drink me when you want a little burn with your brew.

Naturally, I stopped by.

(Wait ... has a blog post about the Summit Brewfest been totally hijacked by the Ghost Face Killah beer? Why, yes — yes it has.)

I couldn't find a bottle of the beer on display and eventually asked an employee, who informed me that they had about a half-dozen bottles remaining from their supply, which were being stored in back and limited to one per customer.

They were basically confident enough that people like me would walk in requesting it — so they could effectively sell out of a beer they never even let people know that they had. No signs — nuthin'. Awesome.

I waited until the next day to open my bottle so that my palate would be clean and unbiased. While grilling some buffalo burgers outside, I began sipping the Ghost Face Killah, which surprisingly quickly disappeared.

DeBellis had said that he'd seen folks drink a few in one sitting at the brewery, while others could barely manage a few sips. I obviously fall into the first category.

Sure, it was hot and delivered a certain throat burn and lengthy smolder inside the chest, but my lips didn't heat up as other drinkers have reported, and I didn't get a tremendous amount of heat on the tongue either.

I guess I'd prepared myself to be lit up like the time I took a big dollop of Dave's Insanity Sauce on a tortilla chip. Not so.

The thing that's very likeable about the Ghost Face Killah is that it is actually drinkable, not just a heat-bomb gimmick meant for a meathead's dare.

I'd say it's just a couple of few notches hotter than the Billy's Chillies, and anyone with a decent spice tolerance should enjoy it.

Good luck still finding a bottle.

As for the Summit Brewfest, (yes ... I was talking about that) it's totally worth the $20 admission, which benefits the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation, which in turn gives money to local military charities.

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