From the HBD Archive
From: (Paul Kramer)
Subject: Some thoughts on Hot peppers and beer
Date: 1992-07-01 21:34:56 GMT

With regards to Paul Sherrill's article on pepper beer, I submit the
following tangential musings:

> When I do this again I will go for the 1/4 inch slices in some sort of
> ale. In fact the IPA in primary could turn into India Peppered Ale.
> Also on the agenda for the future would be attempting a pepper tea at
> bottling. The problem with this is the extrapolation of the number of
> peppers to use and the pepper extraction rate when made into a tea.
> Now how can I figure the pepper extraction rate in IPUs (International
> Peppering Units) ?

As a devotee of fine beer & an enthusiastic pepper eater, I am pleased
to hear how well Paul Sherrill's pepper beers are coming out. His comment
about IPU(International Peppering Units), whether jesting or not, is a
reality. The Scoville Heat Unit has been around for years as a measure of
the amount of Capsaicin in a pepper. Because the quantity required for
taste perception was almost immeasurable, the scale originally relied on
human taste testing, but now through the wonders of "High-performance
Liquid Chromatography" a much more accurate method is available to
assay this chemical. The Scoville scale runs from 0(Bell pepper land) to
15,000,000, which is pure Capsaicin.

The peppers themselves have different ranges of heat going up to almost
300,000 Scovilles for the hottest Habaneros. At 1 part per million, the
warmth of pepper is perceptible on the palate. At 1 part per 100,000,
there should be an obvious burning. Now the extraction would not be 100%
on any given pepper, but I would think that a little testing with a couple
of varieties of peppers could produce some rule of thumb, given the peppers
original Scoville heat rating and its potential effect on ones tongue.

Since individual peppers vary in heat(within a range for their type), &
different parts of a pepper also vary greatly in their heat potential,
special preparation is necessary for controlled testing. The area around
the seeds is the source of the Capsaicin, therefore making a pulp of one
or better yet several peppers, and then using a portion of that to flavour
the beer would have more predictable results than using strips from a single
pepper. Another and possibly better method would be to use a packaged,
ground red pepper, such as Cayenne or Paprika. These are made in larger
quantities, and would be more uniform in heat from sample to sample within
a single brand. This ground pepper could be made into a tea.

Since Capsacin has been used as an emetic, it is conceivable that it is
available in solution from a pharmacist. If this is true, one could have
excellent control of the dosage per bottle or keg.(Remember, the burn is
not a taste perception, it's teh pain receptors in your mouth which get
stimulated. And Capsaicin has no flavour on its own.)

Although I have never done any of the above, I have the greatest confidence
in the skills of the HBD audience, and offer myself as a taster wherever
& whenever convenient.

As an aside, I think that when I go home I'll put a measured splash of
a hot sauce, which has few adjuncts, into a beer to see what it tastes
like. Since the peppering could be accomplished after the brew is cooled
off, it may not matter when it goes into the beer.

paul davis kramer

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