Chili beers aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy a little heat in your brew, there are some great local choices. Some, like last week’s Franchise Wars jalapeño-tomatillo sour from Grindhaus Brew Lab, are quite mild and have a more flavor-focused pepper profile. Others, like Fiery Redhead from Land O’ Lakes’ Craft Life Brewing, are just downright hot.
How hot? Not hot enough to render the beer undrinkable, but enough to let you know exactly what you’re getting into on the first sip. It’s intense, but also approachable.
Fiery Redhead starts out as Island Cove, Craft Life’s house red ale. Its nutty, malt-forward base is a great counterpoint to capsaicin, providing a more layered approach than you might get with a drier base beer. It’s not heavy enough to drown out the chili pepper flavors; instead, its role is quite complementary.
The pepper flavor, restrained but unmistakable, is the result of a hefty addition of locally grown Scotch bonnets. You may have had these peppers before in Caribbean hot sauces, where their sweet but powerful heat makes them a top condiment choice. The heat is more habanero than jalapeño — less crisp chili flavor and more of a back-of-the-throat burn that builds gradually and levels out around halfway through the pint.
You don’t need to be a diehard capsaicin lover to enjoy Fiery Redhead, but the pepper-averse will probably want to stay away — perhaps try the excellent cinnamon-pear sour instead — as this beer is not for beginners. For the rest, head on over to Craft Life’s tasting room at 2624 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. and buckle up.
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