I recently did a quick favour for Stuart from Crown Brewery in Sheffiedand in return I ended up with a few of his ales, including something that excited me quite a lot – Ring of fire, a 10.3% Chilli beer. In case you didn’t know I’m also a bit of a chilli addict and run a chilli website when not writing beer reviews.
Most beers I have had in the past that contain chilli, have been, to put it bluntly, pretty rubbish, they have either had too much chilli making the beer un-drinkable or have just been really rubbish ales that someone has chucked a bit of chilli in.
So it was with some in-trepidation i opened my first bottle of Ring of Fire, i was quite scared in case it was terrible, not because i am scared to write about a bad beer or because Stu seems like a nice guy, but because i really wanted to find a great chilli beer.
Luckily i shouldn’t have worried, this was indeed a bit of a corker!
It opened with a nice hiss but unfortunately poured with no head, that could have been me but i suspect its because the beer is a whopping 10.3% and when you get up over 10% with dark ale it tends to start to lean towards a barley wine. It kind of reminded me of my first impressions of Lee’s Harvest Ale and Thomas Hardy’s ale.
The beer smelt a little of chilli and brown sugar, neither of which was particularly strong, maybe because of the lack of head.
The moment this beer hits your mouth you can taste sweet, but not sickly brown sugar and smooth malt, it’s not really until after you have swallowed that you can taste the chilli, it’s not a spicy chilli just a warm mellow slightly bitter chilli.
If Stu hadn’t told me that he had used 1kg of green chillis in the beer i might have guessed it because the more you drink of this beer the more the chilli comes through, the easiest way to describe it is almost like the taste of a raw green pepper, mildly bitter but with that distinctive pepper taste, only in this case chilli.
Ring of fire is not an ale i could drink lots of bottles of, it’s far to strong and heavy for that, im pretty sure it would make an excellent “desert” beer to accompany cheese and biscuits at the end of a meal….I shall be trying that with one of the other bottles. I could also see this beer working really well in gravy for a spicy bangers and mash, although that might be a bit of a waste so I might not actually try it.
I would seriously love to try this on draft, I’d also like to see someone (Stu if you’re reading this) make a really wicked, mega hoppy chilli beer, not sure if its possible but it would surely be awesome.