Friday, July 27, 2007

(botulism free) Chile beer: a recipe

Most of the cool farm wives and frugal huisvrouwen these days freeze rather than can, but I've always been fascinated with jars of preserves.

It's complicated. It's about going down into the dank, slightly scary basement at my grandparent's house in earliest memory to pick out a quart jar of beans or peas, and how much I would give to be standing there now. It's about the home ec barn at the Minnesota State Fair, where the colors and patterns of backlit preserves rival those of the quilt display. It's about a kitchen 10 miles out of Athens, OH, where A. and I put up apples and tomatoes, lining up the jars on shelves by a window that framed frosty laundry and a defunct pump in the yard.

And it's about botulism toxin, the stuff that stills the palsied and spastic and makes so many New Yorkers look smooth and impassive, that grows in oxygen-deprived spaces and that is lethal in in doses above one microgram. And that is potentially lurking in tens of millions of cans of chili sauces, hash, beans, and other meat- and chili-containing products made by Castleberry Food Co. for major store brands like Meijers, Krogers, Piggly Wiggly, Food Club over the past two years. (For a complete recall list, click here.)

All the more reason to cook up your own tasty chile products at home. Here's my recipe for chile beer, adapted from Shawn Davis and Fred Colby's 'Hot Chihuahua' Jalapeno and Santa Fe Chile Blonde Ale (Zymurgy Sept/Oct 2005) and originally inspired by Sigda's Green Chili Beer. I just cooked it up yesterday so I can't speak for the results yet, and honestly, several critical recipe alterations were the unintended consequences of mistakes. It is bubbling furiously right now, though, and you know how much I love that.

for 5 gallons/19 liters:
  • 7.5 lbs. (give or take) Cooper's Light malt extract
  • .5 lb 80L crystal malt
  • .5 lb clear candi sugar
  • 1 oz N. Brewer pellet hops, added at the start of the boil
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade flower hops, added with 15 minutes left on the boil
    • [This would also have been a great time to throw in an oz. of ground coriander seed to give the beer a little citrusy something something, but I forgot. On the other hand, it's deep summer and our apartment is never in the temperature range (70-75 degrees, tops) recommended to prevent 'fruity esters' from cropping up in my beer, so I guess I can just leave it to the little yeasties.]
  • Irish moss added in the last couple of minutes to clarify
    • [Usually I use Whirlfloc tabs, but dried seaweed seemed much more sporting.]
After the wort was cool, I pitched Windsor yeast. This was a mistake; I was supposed to use Doric Ale yeast, which apparently I must have thrown in my Irish red batch a couple of weeks ago, also by mistake. I haven't found a really detailed description of the flavors imparted by either one, but I have no complaints about the work ethic of the Windsor strain in this batch.

Primary:
  • Dry hop with 3 oz. of dried Guajillo chiles and 3 oz. of dried New Mexico chiles.
Secondary:
  • Dry hop with .5 oz flower hops; I'll probably use Saaz.
Kegging/bottling day:
  • I plan to chop up 3 fresh serrano chiles--I like them better than Jalapenos and anyhow that's what's in Sigda's--boil them in 2 c. water, strain out the chiles and throw the cooled water in the keg along with the priming sugar.

20 comments:

johnny b goode said...

So... how did it turn out if I may ask?

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