Thursday, April 5, 2012

Craigs Oolong Chilli Challenge

At the beginning of the year, Craig posted a ready, steady, brew challenge for home brewers to come up with a beer featuring some weird and wonderful ingredients.

The options were:

1) Oolong tea, lemon and honey
2) Oolong tea and chilli
3) Black tea and cardamon
4) Black tea and black pepper and
5) Asparagus and black pepper

From this list, Oolong tea and chilli was selected as the most popular choice, by me included. I have a decent selection of tea but Oolong is not a staple in our home. Chilli's, on the other hand, we generally have on the go. The first step was to get a recipe together. For this one of Sev's workmates, Adam, found a traditional Hock recipe. This would have been the equivalent of todays white stout and so it seemed a fun base to work from. 

The problem with recreating a historical recipe lies primarily with the scarcity and potential toxicity of some of the original ingredients. For instance, the original recipe calls for hard multum made from Cocculus indicus berries which were used to enhance intoxication in the absence of sufficient malt. These berries are, however, toxic in not overly large quantities so I didn't look too hard for them. I also tried to keep the brewing method as close to the original as possible, however, on such a small scale (4L), a few more compromises had to be made.

The selection of the tea was also nice. Sev and I went to Eteaket and tried a few Oolong's before deciding on a golden variety. Liquorice tea was also reduced down and added to the boil in place of Spanish root so the tea quality could hopefully come through. Balance was the real challenge with this one because Oolong tea is such a subtle flavour and chilli's well, aren't. I also wanted this beer to taste like a beer so there was a fair bit of pipetting done to get the balance of these flavours just right. While pipetting out drops of chilli infused vodka into the conditioning vessel, I definitely felt I had an idea of what it must be like to be a master blender at a distillery.

The beer came out at 4% abv and 85 ibu. It's not white, of course, but it's still fairly light given that I had to beef up the malt bill to account for a lack of toxic berries. This was a very time intensive process, involving a 75 minute mash and 135 minute boil. The Oolong tea was added for the final 5 days with chilli-infused vodka added before bottling. I've had a couple of these already and I'm really enjoying it. I wish I'd made more but for now I'm looking forward to seeing what other people come up with when the tasting night comes around. I have also added some Oolong tea and chilli to a mead for a giggle.

No comments:

Post a Comment