Three years ago, we gathered our bravest editors and beer judges to sample what were, at the time, the spiciest beers on the market: Stone Brewing Co’s Crime and Punishment (bourbon-aged versions of Lukcy Bastard and Double Bastard brewed with a bunch of hot peppers, including Caribbean Red Hots, Fatalis and Moruga Scorpions) and Twisted Pine Brewing Co.’s Ghost Face Killah (a wheat ale made with the Serrano, habanero, jalapeno, Anaheim, Fresno and the dreaded bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper). It went about as well as you’d expect. These beers were—and still are—hot as hell.
But they’ve got nothing on Brewtality.
In October, beer fan-turned-brew-entrepreneur Jeff Pickett will launch the first production run of Brewtality, a 10% ABV triple IPA made with Carolina Reapers, currently the world’s hottest peppers. To understand just how spicy these monstrous veggies are, a little context: The spicy heat exhibited by chili peppers is measured in Scoville units, named after pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. A bell pepper has 0 units; a red jalapeno (the variety used in Sriracha) usually has around 5,000. Things get really painful in the upper ranges: Habanero peppers can hit for up to 350,000 units on the Scoville scale, while ghost peppers—once the hottest chiles in the world—average 1 million. Carolina Reapers have been recorded in excess of 2.2 million units.
“I’m not going to satisfy everyone with a beer like this, so I really wanted to push the boundaries,” says Pickett, who contracted with a farm in Santa Rosa, California to have the super-spicy peppers grown exclusively for his brew. “I knew I wanted to use the hottest pepper in the world, but what was a really pleasant surprise was that the flavor of Carolina Reapers is really good. It’s got this nice fruitiness that I would contrast with Ghost Peppers, which have a flavor I would describe more like dirt. Thanks to the properties of the pepper and the recipe that we concocted, it really mixed well. It has a sweetness to it; it’s not super-hoppy because we felt that would fight with the flavor of the peppers. It’s all really well-balanced, and yet super hardcore.”
Brewtality will serve as both the name of the brewery and the Reaper-infused brand, Pickett says, and it will be the only beer he produces this year. He’s in talks with San Francisco breweries BareBottle and Speakeasy to contract-brew it. The beer will be packaged primarily in 16.9-ounce bottles and shipped throughout California.
“The focus is really just on doing one thing really, really well, and that’s making an amazing spicy beer,” Pickett says.