Walter Mencken 9 a.m., Oct. 1
A Mystery SOLVED (and consumed) in the Ranch
As it turns out, the mystery cask that Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits rolled out today played off a method they've employed with great success over the past year - infusion of hot chile pepper heat into beers.
This time, they didn't pull any punches, or peppers, adding four habañero chilies to a version of Black Marlin Porter that had been dried hopped with Amarillos. The result was a brew that had plenty of porter chocolate and coffee notes as well as a round Cointreau-like sweetness that was nearly hidden on the mid-palate. It was plenty tasty, especially for fire-eaters, and the heat built up over consecutive sips.
To date, the best chile beer from BP has been their habañero-infused Sculpin India Pale Ale (IPA), a capsaicin-laced version of their medal-winning citrusy, highly hopped ale that delivers equal parts spice and crisp effervescence. It works for the same reason that today's Black Marlin faltered a bit. With a light-bodied mouthfeel and a chilled serving temperature, the beer helps to cleanse the palate, keeping things from betting too hot or sticky. With a cask-conditioned beer like the Black Marlin, served at room temperature, there's nothing to work against the heat or inspire persistent gulpage.
All that considered, it was an inspired beer that captures current trends in the local brewing industry. And since the question of "do you want us to do more of this" was the main query to be answered with today's experiment, I feel inclined to answer with an emphatic, "yes!"