Chili Peppers

Chili beer is a (somewhat) recent addition to the craft beer experience. Brewers are experimenting with this craft beer by adding hot pepper juice, oils or even whole peppers to ales and lagers to create what is commonly becoming known as chili (or chile) beer.

Of the various adjuncts that can be added to beer, hot chili peppers are among the most unique, imparting flavors commonly associated with Southwestern cuisine along with a noticeable heat. Brewers use a range of chili peppers, from sweet all the way to ghost peppers, to get the balance of hot flavor and aroma they’re looking for. A common and simple method for imparting chili characteristics in beer involves adding the chopped fruit directly to the beer, usually during fermentation similar to a dry hop addition. However, there are some who believe adding that much plant matter to the beer leads to undesirable flavors, and to avoid this, they use a tincture.

In general, tinctures are extracts produced by soaking a particular material, in this case chili peppers, in alcohol over a period of time, after which the material is separated from the liquid. Commonly used in cooking to add the essence of a certain ingredient to a dish, tinctures offer brewers an easy way to experiment with different flavors that not only eliminates the addition of vegetal matter to their beer, but comes with minimal risk in that dosing can occur on a very small scale.

The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spiciness or “heat”) of chili peppers, as recorded in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), based on the concentration of capsaicinoids, among which capsaicin is the predominant component. The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur L. Scoville (1865-1942), whose 1912 method is known as the Scoville organoleptic test.

The Scoville organoleptic test is the most practical method for estimating SHU and is a subjective assessment derived from the capsaicinoid sensitivity by people experienced with eating hot chilis.

In the Scoville organoleptic test, an exact weight of dried pepper is dissolved in alcohol to extract the heat components (capsaicinoids), then diluted in a solution of sugar water. Decreasing concentrations of the extracted capsaicinoids are given to a panel of five trained tasters, until a majority (at least three) can no longer detect the heat in a dilution. The heat level is based on this dilution, rated in multiples of 100 SHU.

30,000 – 50,000 SHU
“Aji” means chile pepper in Spanish, and “amarillo” means yellow. Although they are named yellow chile peppers, their color changes to orange as they mature. It is typically associated with Peruvian cuisine, and is considered part of its condiment trinity together with red onion and garlic. Common dishes with aji amarillo are the Peruvian stew Aji de Gallina (“Hen Chili”), Huancaina sauce and the Bolivian Fricase Paceno. In its dried form it is called Ají Mirasol.

Commercial Examples: Imperial Chupacabra| Hop Hooligans; Hades | Olimp; Mango Inferno | Vault City Brewing Co.

10,000 SHU
Also known as the Halaby Pepper, the Aleppo pepper is used as a spice, particularly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, named after the city of Aleppo in Northern Syria. It is commonly grown in Syria and Turkey, and is usually dried and crushed. It starts as pods which ripen to a burgundy color, then are semi-dried, de-seeded, and crushed or coarsely ground. This crushed chile has an ancho-like flavor with a little more heat and tartness.

Commercial Examples: Aleppo Pepper & Pom Cream Ale | Ironfire Brewing Co.; Aleppo Pepper Pilsner | Spice Trade Brewing Co.; Ardent Dark Rye Coffee & Aleppo Peppers | Ardent Craft Ales

5,000 – 30,000 SHU
Also known as the Shipka’s Pepper, the Bulgarian Carrot heirloom pepper was supposedly smuggled out through the iron curtain 20 years ago. This attractive white flowering plant produces glossy orange colored peppers resembling carrots. Medium to very hot, with an irresistible crunchy bite, Bulgarian Carrot is one of the best varieties you can find for roasting or chopping into salsa and chutney. Early to mature and very high-yielding.

Commercial Examples: Fathom IPL (w/ Cherry Bomb Peppers & Bulgarian Carrot Peppers) / | Ballast Point Brewing Co.; Community GroundWorks Pepper Pilsner | Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

1,000 – 2,500 SHU
An Ancho chile pepper is the dried form of a red ripe Poblano pepper (above). The ripened red poblano can be hotter and more flavorful than the less ripe, green poblano. Ancho chiles have a deep red color and a wrinkled skin. Anchos are sweet and smoky with a flavor slightly reminiscent of raisins.

Commercial Examples: 5 Vulture Oaxacan Style Dark Ale | 5 Rabbit Cervecería; Xibalba | Wicked Weed; Luchador en Fuego | Clown Shoes

700,000 – 800,000 SHUs 
This is the a Chocolate version of the King Naga. More chocolate colored than black this monster sized pepper turns a very dark shade of brown that gives it a black like sheen. Like other Nagas this one originates from Bangladesh and is similar in flavor profile to the more common chocolate Bhut Jolokia. Seemingly very productive it has a brutal sweet heat. The true stability of this variety is unknown because not many have grown it. its SHU is slightly less than a Bhut Jolokia or Naga Morich.

Commercial Example: Fathom Cask W/ Gold Naga Chilli Peppers | Ballast Point Brewing Co.;

5,000 – 30,000 SHU
Also known as the Shipka’s Pepper, the Bulgarian Carrot heirloom pepper was supposedly smuggled out through the iron curtain 20 years ago. This attractive white flowering plant produces glossy orange colored peppers resembling carrots. Medium to very hot, with an irresistible crunchy bite, Bulgarian Carrot is one of the best varieties you can find for roasting or chopping into salsa and chutney. Early to mature and very high-yielding.

Commercial Examples: Cherry Bomb Fathom | Ballast Point Brewing Co.; Community GroundWorks Pepper Pilsner | Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

1,569,383 – 2,200,000 SHU
As of August, 2013, Guinness World Records stated that Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper® is officially the world’s hottest chile pepper. Originally named the “HP22BNH7”, bred by cultivator Ed Currie, who runs PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The original cross was between two former world record holders, the ghost pepper and a Red Savina Habanero. Carolina Reapers have the distinctive lobes and the stinger tail.  Typically superhot chilis have chemical undertones, as if you can actually taste the capsaicin. The Carolina Reaper has a sweet and fruity flavor, right before the heat kicks in.

Commercial Examples: Heat Series: Carolina Reaper Peach IPA | Flying Dog Brewery; Pepper Spray Porter | Uiltje Brewing Co.; Pepper Spray Porter | Cotton Brewing Co.;

2,500 – 8,000 SHU
The Cascabel chile pepper (little bell), is also known as the rattle chile. The rattle and bell designations describe the tendency of loose seeds to rattle inside a dried cascabel when shaken. Fresh Cascabel are also known as bola chile or chile bola (Spanish: ball chile). The color of the fresh fruits starts out green and matures to red. These 3 cm chiles resemble small cherries. Most commonly used dried, the color darkens considerably and are called Guajones’ or ‘Coras’ once dried.

Commercial Examples: Mexas Ranger | Mikkeller; Cascabel Cream Stout | (512) Brewing Co.; Heavy Water Tonka Beans, Cinnamon, Vanilla Pods, Cocoa Nibs & A Hint Of Chilli | Beavertown

30,000-50,000 SHU
The word cayenne seems to come from kian, the name of a pepper among the Tupi Indians in what is now French Guiana and was named after either the Cayenne River or the capital of the country, Cayenne.  It owes it spread around the world to Portugal whose traders carried it around the world in the 15th & 16th centuries. The cayenne pepper, also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, aleva, bird pepper, or, especially in its powdered form, red pepper, is a hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes. It is also sold whole or crushed as red pepper flakes. Cayenne chiles are generally sold dried. The majority of cayenne chiles are used to make cayenne pepper.  There are now a multitude of varieties available with differing fruit lengths, thicknesses and heat levels.

Commercial Examples: Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti | Great Divide Brewing Co.; Black Butte XXIX | Deschutes Brewery; Indra Kunindra | Ballast Point Brewing Co.

2,500 – 5,000 SHU
Cherry Bomb Peppers are about 2″ nearly round peppers that mature quickly from green to brilliant red. Moderately hot with thick walls which makes them ideal for pickling and stuffing. This early-bearing, disease-resistant, hybrid chile explodes with flavor and bears as much as 50 percent more fruit per plant than its traditional, open-pollinated relatives.

Commercial Example: Fathom With Cherry Bomb Peppers | Ballast Point Brewing Co.; 

30,000 – 50,000 SHU
A very attractive plant in the garden, the F1 Cheyenne is an easy to grow hybrid branching chile that produces a heavy crop of 4 inch green peppers that mature to bright orange all over the plant. The habit of Cheyenne makes it a superb choice for pots and hanging baskets as well as open ground. Cheyenne plants remains compact and only requires at most a little support. Very tasty and highly recommended.

Commercial Examples: Tiny Tap – Pinappple Cheyenne Pepper Saison | The Elizabeth Brewing Co.

30,000 – 60,000 SHU
The Chile de árbol, Spanish for tree chili, are named in reference to the woody stems attached to the pod. These slender, 2-3 inch long chili peppers start out green and mature to a bright red in color. Originally from the Oaxaco and Jalisco states in Mexico. The Chile de árbol is a small and potent Mexican chili pepper, also known as bird’s beak chile and rat’s tail chile, are quite hot and related to the cayenne pepper. In cooking substitutions, the Chile de árbol pepper can be traded with Cayenne pepper. Chile de árbol peppers can be found fresh, dried, or powdered. As dried chiles, they are often used to decorate wreaths because they do not lose their red color after dehydration. 

Commercial Examples: Mexas Ranger | Mikkeller; Imperial Stout W/ Chile De Arbol |SunUp Brewing Co.; Stone Delicious With Tamarind, Lime, And Chile De Arbol | Stone Brewing

 

4,000 – 6,000 SHU
An heirloom chile grown for generations in the Chimayo Valley of northern New Mexico. Chimayó is celebrated for two things: its sacred dirt, and its near-sacred chile pepper. Unlike larger, mass-produced chiles Chimayó chiles are unpredictable and more commonly grown in individual homes and gardens. A single plant might produce some chiles as long as six or seven inches and many more that are shorter; a few might be straight and skinny, but most will be oddly bent oddly into curls. At first it tastes sweet and then medium hot.

Commercial Examples: Chimayo Green Chile Ale / Chimayo Chile IPA / Chimayo Chili Red | Local Relic; Imperial Pumpkin Porter (w/ Chimayo Red Chile, Cacao Nibs, & Sea Salt) | Epic Brewing Co.; Journeyman W/ Mango & Chile Chimayo | Turkey Hill Brewing Co.

2,500 – 10,000 SHU
Generally, a chipotle is a smoked red ripe jalapeño. The two most popular types of chipotle chiles, “Morita” and “Meco”, are both smoked jalapeños. Morita chile peppers are smoked for less time than the Chipotle Meco, leaving them softer and retaining their modest fruity flavor. Most of the “chipotles” being sold in markets in the United States are Chipotle Moritas. This is because most Chipotle Mecos produced in Mexico are eaten there, leaving little for export. Plus they can be more expensive than Moritas. Morita means “little blackberry” in Spanish. The color of this smoked chile is dark red, sometimes approaching purple in color.

Commercial Examples: Chipotle Ale | Rogue Ales; Speedway Stout (Chipotle and Morita Pepper) | AleSmith Brewing Co.; Bourbon County Stout – Proprietor’s 2016 | Goose Island Brewing Co.

0 – 500 SHU
The Corno di Toro pepper is sometimes called Bull’s Horn Chile Pepper, Cowhorn Pepper, or Carmen Italian Sweet Pepper . The name of this Italian Cubanelle type heirloom translates as “horn of the bull”. Long 8-inch tapered, bull-horn shaped, peppers are sweet and mature from glossy green to either red, yellow or orange. They are great fresh or roasted. Brought to this country by Italian immigrants and widely used in sauces ever since.

Commercial Example: Community GroundWorks Pepper Pilsner | Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

250 – 750  SHU
The Cubanelle, also known as “Cuban pepper” and “Italian frying pepper”, is a variety of sweet pepper of the species Capsicum annuum. It is used extensively in the cuisine of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Italy. When unripe, it is light yellowish-green in color, but will turn bright red if allowed to ripen. Compared to bell peppers it has thinner flesh, is longer, and has a slightly more wrinkled appearance. Most of the Cubanelle pepper imports come from the Dominican Republic (where it is called ají cubanela), which is the main exporter of this pepper.

Commercial Example: Peter Piper Pepper | Broken Axe Brew House

2,500 – 10,000 SHU
The Fatalii is a chili pepper that originated in central and southern Africa. Sometimes spelled Fatalli, this is a habanero relative. Fatalii plants grow on average to about 2 feet, but can grow as tall as 4 feet. Fatalii Peppers are green when young and turn yellow as they mature with fruits around 3″ long.  Fatalii’s thrive in full sun and do well in pots. A very popular pepper for their great flavor, described as having a fruity, sweet, citrus flavor with a searing heat that is comparable to a standard habanero.

Commercial Example: Punishment  | Arrogant Consortia

2,500 – 10,000 SHU
The Fresno pepper is similar to the Jalapeño pepper, but contains thinner walls. The Fresno tends to be a slightly less hot than a jalapeño with more flavor, probably because they are most often sold when red ripe. The fruit starts out bright green changing to orange and red as fully matured. Mild green ones can typically be purchased in the summer while the hot red ones are available in the fall, depending on the region. The Fresno pepper can often be substituted for or with Jalapeño and Serrano peppers.

Commercial Examples: Ghost Face Killah | Twisted Pine; Hot Box Imperial Smoked Pepper PorterIndeed Brewing Co.; The One Horned Wonder and His Fanciful Flying Fresno | Pipeworks Brewing Co.

800,000 – 1,041,427 SHU
Known by many names including Bhut jolokia, Bih jolokia, Nagahari, Raja Mircha, Raja chilli or Borbih jolokiai. The word Bhut, given from the Bhutias people, means “ghost” and was probably given the name because of the way the heat sneaks up on the one who eats it. From 2007 until 2010 The Ghost Pepper was certified as the hottest Chili Pepper in The Guinness Book of World Records.  The first flavor you will notice is an intense sweet chili flavor, the heat does not kick in for 30 – 45 seconds. Once the heat kicks in, expect sweating, watery eyes, hiccups and shortness of breath. The hottest ghost pepper is 416 times hotter than the mildest jalapeno pepper.

Commercial Examples: Ghost Face Killah | Twisted Pine; Ghost Pepper Bourbon County Stout | Goose Island Brewing Co.; The Ghost of Hunahpu’ (2014) | Cigar City Brewing Co.; Cascabel Cream Stout w/ Ghost Chiles | (512) Brewing Co.

2,500 – 5,000 SHU
A Guajillo chile (Pronounced gwah-HEE-yoh) are the dried form of the mirasol pepper. They are almost never used raw. They are the second most popular dried chile pepper used in Mexican cuisine after ancho chiles. There are two distinct varieties of the guajillo. The guajillo puya is smaller and therefore, hotter because the chemicals are more concentrated. The guajillo is longer and wider. It has a very rich flavor and is not as spicy. Smooth, shiny, and typically dark reddish-brown in color, their skin is tough and wrinkled. They tend grow four to six inches long with a slight curve at the bottom.These dried peppers need to be soaked in water longer than other dried chiles. This pepper has a green tea flavor with berry overtones, a slight smokiness and the warm flavor of a ripe, juicy, sweet tomato.

Commercial Examples: Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Lord de Muerte | 3 Floyds Brewing Co.; Greatest Hits &+ (And Plus) | Cycle Brewing Co.; Liquid Confidence / Confidential (Rhum BA) | To Øl

100,000 to 350,000 SHU
The Habanero is a South American pepper. It hails from the Amazonas region of Peru, but it’s really thought of as a Mexican pepper. The pepper can be found in many different varieties and colors, from red and orange to dark brown and nearly black. Some of those red (the Red Savina habanero), black habaneros (the chocolate habanero) and the Caribbean Red Habanero, actually are much hotter than the normal varieties, tipping the Scoville scale above 475,000 SHU. The common orange habanero pepper has a tropical, fruity flavor that make these peppers very popular among chefs, both amateur and professional. And underneath the sweetness, there’s a subtle smokiness as well. Other habanero pepper types (like the Caribbean red habanero, Peruvian white, or Roatan pumpkin) have similar flavor profiles, but the chocolate hab (like other chocolate-hued chilies) has a smokier, earthier flavor to go along with its extra spiciness.

Commercial Examples: La Pingüina en Fuego | Clown Shoes; Stone Ruination IPA w/ Habanero Peppers | Stone Brewing; The Hobbit: Smaug Stout | Fish Brewing Co.

1,500 – 5,000 SHU
Late in the summer is Hatch chile pepper season from August thru September.  These New Mexico chiles are grown in and around Hatch, New Mexico, USA. Hatch is located in the fertile Rio Grande Valley, about 40 miles north of Las Cruces. What makes the Hatch chiles special is where they are grown. The town of Hatch experiences abundant sunshine, hot daytime temperatures with cool nights. There are five or six main cultivated varieties of New Mexico chiles, so the heat level can vary, with some being very mild but some are quite spicy. Generally speaking, the Hatch chile is hotter than an Anaheim, but slightly milder than a jalapeño. The flavor is similar to the Anaheim. The Hatch Chile Pepper is New Mexico’s state vegetable. They tend to feel very light and are great for roasting.

Commercial Examples: Roasted Hatch Chile – Sidra De Los Muertos | Republic Of Cider; Fresh Cut Session IPA (w/Roasted Hatch Green Chilies) | River City Brewing Co.; Roasted Hatch Chili Wildflower Mead | Skep & Skein; Anvil ESB W/ Smoked Hatch Chiles | AleSmith Brewing Company

1,500 – 15,000 SHU
The Hungarian Wax pepper has a wide scoville scale range, so you never know just how hot they may be. This pepper is usually harvested before maturity when still yellow. It measures between 4″-6″ inches in length which tapers to a rounded point. Upon maturity, the pepper becomes orange then red in color. Although similar in appearance to banana peppers when immature, it is a different cultivar. Due to the ease of cultivation and the productivity of the plant, many home gardeners pickle these whole or sliced in rings.

Commercial Examples: Barrel Aged Spite (Hungarian Wax) | Founders Brewing Company; Peter Piper Pepper | Rockford Brewing Co.; Community GroundWorks Pepper Pilsner| Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

2,500 – 10,000 SHU
The Jalapeño pepper, originating in Mexico, is the world’s most popular chile pepper. The jalapeño is a medium-sized chile that is commonly picked and consumed while still green, but if allowed to fully ripen, they turn crimson red. According to the USDA, starting since 2010, California produces the most Jalapeños in the United States, followed by New Mexico and Texas. The Chile Pepper Institute is known for developing several jalapeño variations, such as the Purple Jalapeño, NuMex Jalapeño Pumpkin Spice, NuMex Jalapeño Lemon Spice, NuMex Jalapeño Orange Spice, NuMex Jalmundo, NuMex Vaquero, NuMex Primavera and NuMex Piñata.

Commercial Examples: Ghost Face Killah | Twisted Pine; Chipotle Ale | Rogue Ales; Roasted Jalapeno Blueberry Porter | Two Henrys Brewing Co.

100,000 – 350,000 SHU
Originally from Suriname, a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America, it is used in almost all facets of Surinamese cuisine. This Habanero variant is grown on the Islands of Surinam and Aruba. The Madam Jeanette has 2 color varieties, yellow and red, and are also called  “Suriname Yellow” or “Suriname Red”. The plant is very prolific. It has a relatively compact growth and dislikes cool sites. It will also grow indoors.  Its flavor is described as fruity, with hints of mango and pineapple.

Commercial Example: Salt & Pepper | Brouwerij de Molen

2,500 – 3,000 SHU
The Mulato Chile Pepper is a mild to medium pepper, closely related to the poblano, and usually sold dried. Mexican Mulato chiles are part of the famous “trinity” used in mole as well as other Mexican sauces and stews. The Aztecs made sauces with chiles and they were referred to as molli. The Spaniards translated this word to mole and that is the familiar name today. Many of us think of mole poblano when we think of mole; a dish made with dark dried chiles, nuts, seeds, and a small amount of chocolate. The mole poblano holy trinity of chiles are the Mulato, ancho, and Pasilla negro. The Mulato’s color while growing is dark green, maturing to red or brown. The dried Mulato is flat and wrinkled, and always brownish-black in color.

Commercial Examples: Sunday Mole Stout | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; BA De Molé | Magic Rock Brewing Co.; Mexas Ranger | Mikkeller

1,000,000 – 1,100,000 SHU
Also known as the snake or serpent chili, this pepper is native to North East India and the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. The Naga Morich is an extremely hot pepper, but has a flavor that is quite unique. Genetically, the serpent chili is closely related to both the Ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia) and the Dorset Naga. Like the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper), it has a sweet and slightly tart flavor, followed by slight undertones of woody, smoky flavors. Traditionally the Bangladeshi people will impart the heat of the serpent chili into their culinary dishes by cutting open one of the immature, green chilies and rubbing it on to the foods they are preparing. 

Commercial Examples: Abstrakt AB:04 / Dog D / Dog H | BrewDog;

2,500 – 3,000  SHU
The giant NuMex Big Jim pepper was introduced by New Mexico State University in the 1970s as a cross between a few different types of local chiles and a Peruvian chile. These peppers are in the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest chile ever grown and can grow up to a foot long. Plants yield many mildly hot, thick-walled green fruits perfect for roasting and stuffing. Pepper cultivars developed at the New Mexico State University carry the designation ‘NuMex’.

Commercial Example: Ring of Fire Green Chile Ale | Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

250 – 1,000 SHU
The Paprika chile pepper is a large, cone-shaped pepper, typically dried and ground to make the more familiar powdered spice. The true paprika spice should use only ground Paprika peppers, but depending on where you get your paprika spice, it may be made from ground bell pepper or miscellaneous chile varieties or a mixture of both. Although paprika is often associated with Hungarian cuisine, the peppers from which it is made are native to the New World and were later introduced to the Old World. Originating in central Mexico, paprika was brought to Spain in the 16th century. The seasoning is also used to add color to many types of dishes.

Commercial Examples: Sassy Squash Ale |  Zymurgy Brewing Co.; Chilli | Pivovar Kaltenecker; Midnight Mistress | James River Brewery; Louisiana Spiced Ale | Abita Brewing Co.

1,000 – 2,500 SHU
Pronounced pah-SEE-yah, a true Pasilla pepper is the dried form of the long and narrow Chilaca pepper (above). In the United States, though, producers and grocers often incorrectly use ‘pasilla’ to describe the poblano. Pasillas are used mostly in sauces. They are sold whole or powdered in Mexico, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Commercial Examples: Sunday Mole Stout | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Greatest Hits &+ (And Plus) | Cycle Brewing Co.; Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout | Cigar City Brewing

4,000 – 10,000 SHU
Pasilla de Oaxaca Chiles, are also called Pasilla Mixe (pronounced “mee-hay”), Chile de Oaxaca, or Oaxacan Pasilla. The locals call this chile Ayuujk. These are smoked Pasilla chiles that are grown in the Oaxacan region of Mexico. While closely related to the better known Pasilla Negro Chiles that are grown further north in south central Mexico, the chile Pasilla Mixe is native to the northeastern highlands of the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca and true Pasilla Mixe chiles can only be from that area. P. Oaxaca have a strong smoky character, with a scant hint of fruit, and a heat level that is pure and sharp but not overwhelming. With more smoky flavor but less heat than the chipotle.

Commercial Example: Hades | Olimp;

40,000 – 60,000 SHU
Pequin pepper, or Piquín, is a hot chile pepper cultivar commonly used as a spice. The popular Cholula brand hot sauce lists pequin peppers and arbol peppers among its ingredients. The Pequin has small fruits that rarely exceed 2 cm (about 1/2 inch – 3/4 inch at the most) in length. Like most chiles, fruits start out green, ripening to brilliant red at maturity. Pequin peppers have a flavor that is somewhat citrusy with a touch of smokiness and they are quite hot.

Commercial Examples: Breakfast of Champions | Moon Dog Craft Brewer

1,000 – 2,000 SHU
The Poblano pepper is one of the most popular peppers grown in Mexico. It is a mild chile pepper originating in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Dried, it is called an Ancho chile (“wide chile”). They have thick, dark-green skin and a wide base which tapers to a point. Poblano peppers are good for roasting. Roasting brings out the fruitier flavors of the pepper and eases in removing the skin. Somewhat large and heart-shaped, the mild poblano is common in Mexican and Southwestern cooking, most notably in the classic chile relleno in which the roasted pepper is stuffed with cheese, then coated in egg and fried.

Commercial Examples: Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged El Lechedor | Night Shift Brewing Co.; Praying Mantis | Pig Minds Brewing Co.; Poblano Wit | Cigar City Brewing Co.

5,000 – 20,000  SHU
Pueblo chiles (AKA Mosco or the New Mexican Improved) encompass any variety that’s grown in and around Pueblo County, Colorado. The chile has a thick flesh and big flavor is due in part to the climate in the region. When you break the pepper open, there’s a vein that runs from the seeds to the tip of the pepper, along the pod, and on those veins, that’s where the capsaicin is located. The hotter the pepper, those veins will actually start to change color. On a mild pepper, the veins appear almost white. On a hotter pepper, the capsaicin in the veins turns yellow or orange. A Mirasol’s Mosco can be grown elsewhere, but it can only be called a Pueblo chile if it is grown in Pueblo, CO. 

Commercial Examples: Ring of Fire Green Chile Ale | Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.; Pueblo Chili Beer | The Walter Brewing Co.

5,000 – 30,000 SHU
Introduced by New Mexico State University in 1956, Sandia plants bear heavy yields of green peppers that ripen to red. Heat increases as fruits redden. Sometimes labeled as NuMex Sandia, this chile-style pepper has medium-thick walls that add a nice crunch to salsa. A favorite for roasting, the peppers are also often dried to create decorative strings, or ristras. It sounds like most of these are fairly mild, but then very once in a while one will be a scorcher.

Commercial Example: Cervesa Picosa Ahumada Roja | Valley Brewing Co.

500 – 700 SHU
Introduced in 1965, the Santa Fe Grande pepper, also known as “Yellow hot chile pepper” and the “Güero chile pepper”, is a very prolific variety used in the Southwestern United States. The conical, 4 inch blunt fruits ripen from a pale yellow to a bright orange or fiery red. Makes a great ornamental plant for the garden. Santa Fe Grande peppers have a slightly sweet taste and are fairly mild in heat.

Commercial Examples: Santa Fe Hatch Pepper Lager | Great Revivalist Brew Lab; Santa Fe Pepper | Funhouse Brews

100,000 – 350,000 SHU
Scotch Bonnet’s are brightly colored Jamaican hot chiles that are typically red or yellow when fully ripe. They can be eaten fresh but are also great for pickling, garnishes, sauces and jerk rubs. The Scotch Bonnet is also known as Boabs Bonnet, Scotty Bons, Bonney peppers, or Caribbean red peppers. Found mainly in the Caribbean islands, it is also in Guyana (where it is called Ball of Fire), the Maldives Islands and West Africa. It is named for its resemblance to a Tam o’shanter hat. The Scotch bonnet has a sweeter flavour and stouter shape, distinct from its habanero cousin with which it is often confused.

Commercial Examples: Willy Tonka 3 | Moersleutel Craft Brewery; Chocolate Heat | Hardywood Park Crafy Brewery; Texas | Goose Island Brewhouse; Fields Of Fire | Bluejacket

10,000 – 25,000 SHU
The Serrano Pepper is a type of chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo. Serrano translated to English means ‘from the mountains’. Their flavor is crisp, bright, and notably hotter than the jalapeño pepper. Typically eaten raw, Serrano peppers are also commonly used in making pico de gallo. Unripe serrano peppers are green, maturing to red. The pods can be eaten in their green or red form. These bullet shaped chiles grow up to 6 cm long, are thick fleshed and mature from lime green to red approximately 85 days after transplanting. Ripe red Serrano peppers are featured in Sriracha.

Commercial Examples: Ghost Face Killah | Twisted Pine; Original C Cave Creek Chili Beer – Cerveza Con Chili | Cervecería Mexicana; Southern Ambrosia | Wicked Weed Brewing

30,000 – 50,000 SHU
With its origins in Mexico, the Tabasco pepper is named after the Mexican state of Tabasco, and is best known for its use in Tabasco sauce. Until recently, all of the peppers used to make Tabasco sauce were grown on Avery Island, Louisiana. While a small portion of the crop is still grown on the island, the bulk of the crop is now grown in Central and South America, where the weather and the availability of more farmland allow a more predictable and larger year-round supply of peppers. The tapered fruits are initially pale yellowish-green and turn yellow and orange before ripening to bright red. Tabasco fruits, like all other members of the C. frutescens species, remain upright when mature, rather than hanging down from their stems.

Commercial Examples: Dale’s Pale Ale (With Hot Peppers & Tabasco) | Oskar Blues Brewery; Tabasco Blonde | Blue Moon Brewing Company; Tobasco Chocolate Stout | Elliott Bay Brewing Co.

50,000 – 100,000 SHU
There are dozens of varieties of Bird Peppers throughout the world. The two best known varieties in North America are Chiltepin and Pequin. The Chiltepin is native to southern North America and northern South America. Common names include Tepin, chiltepe, and chile tepin, as well as turkey, bird’s eye, or simply bird peppers, due to their consumption and spread by wild birds. Some chile enthusiasts argue that the Chiltepin can potentially be hotter than the habanero or red savina, supported with the numbers reported from Craig Dremann’s Pepper Hotness Test scores. However, since this pepper is harvested from wild peppers in the Mexican desert, the heat level of the fruit can vary greatly from year to year. While the heat is intense, it is not very enduring.

Commercial Examples: Red Maniac |  Bakunin Brewing Co.; Hades | Olimp; Filthy Animal 3 |Boundary Brewing

50,000 – 100,000 SHU
There is no single “Thai pepper” though most candidates for the title are small in size and high in heat. There are at least 79 separate varieties, some include Bird’s Eye Chile, Bird’s Chile, Peri-Peri, Thai Hot. All Thai peppers appeared from three species in Thailand. These little peppers are about 1 – 2 inches long and very hot. Green ones are not ripe, and red are ripe, but you eat either one and mix them together for color. Bird’s eye chile is a pepper commonly found in Southeast Asia. In the northern parts of Malaysia, this chile is known as cabai burung or bird chile, as birds eat this variety of chile. In the Philippines, it is called labuyo. it is also found in rural areas of Sri Lanka, where it is used as a substitute for green chile.

Commercial Examples: Thai Chili Wahoo / Wahoo White w/ Thai Chili, Kaffir Lime Leaf & Orange Peel | Ballast Point Brewing Co.; Imperial Scoville | Jailbreak Brewing Co.

1,200,000 – 2,000,000  SHU
Created by Wahid Ogeer of Trinidad, The Trinidad moruga scorpion is native to the district of Moruga in Trinidad and Tobago. The New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute identified the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion as the newest hottest chili pepper in the world as of February 2012. The current world record holder is the Carolina Reaper. However the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion wasn’t certified as the hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records. Aside from the heat, the Trinidad moruga scorpion has a tender fruit-like flavor, which makes it a deadly sweet-hot combination. Paul Bosland, a chili pepper expert and director of the Chile Pepper Institute, said, “You take a bite. It doesn’t seem so bad, and then it builds and it builds and it builds.”

Commercial Examples: Grandma’s Jam Mango & Pineapple & Passion Fruit Trinidad Moruga Scorpion | Samovar Brew; Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Porter | Lake Ann Brewing Co.;  Orange Scorpion | CIB Brewery; Ghost Scorpion Lager | Elevator Brewing Co.; Flaming Ass-Owl  | Uiltje Brewing Co.

Descriptions courtesy of Cayenne Diane
Blog Comments

Great work on the peppers. Very informative and interesting. I never knew their was so many types of chili peppers in beer.

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