In a nutshell, my objection is why put something that’s hot into something that’s supposed to be refreshing? Why put something that strong into a beer, because it’s just going to overwhelm everything?
I’d truly given up on chili beers because they are the dumbest things on Earth. Well, aside from anyone who watches Australia’s Got Talent, that is. And then I tried Garage Project’s Death From Above and I went, “aha, so that’s how to make a beer with chili that tastes good”.
Made for the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in May, it was a beer that created a bit of controversy in Garage Project’s native New Zealand. And when I say “controversy” I mean “total beat-up by a journo on a slow news day”. You can read the story here, where the journo talks about how the beer was inspired by the napalm-dropping helicopters in Apocalypse Now (choppers don’t drop napalm, by the way).
So the brewers copped a bit of heat for it. Geddit? It’s a chilli beer? Anyway, the brewers call it an Indochine pale ale, as it uses Vietnamese mint, mango, lime and chili, along with Centennial, Amarillo and Citra hops.
The idea behind it was to get something like a Vietnamese mango and chili salad vibe – bit of heat and a bit of sweetness. They did that – but it was the way the chili was incorporated that I liked. It definitely gives a smidge of heat but it melds well with the other ingredients. You also get some residual heat on the lips, much like you would by eating an Asian dish with a bit of chili in it. It’s warming but not overpowering.
I guess that’s why the chili works here, because it’s part of a greater whole, rather than being the only ingredient. And you know, what? I’d really like to try this with Vietnamese food one day.