Chilli beer

The Beer Lover’s Table: Chinese-Caribbean Wings and Elusive x Hop Burns & Black Aztec Challenge Smoked Chilli Porter

Wings are, in many ways, the perfect food. Crispy and juicy when done right, they offer the messy, almost carnal satisfaction of eating with your hands, of failing to care that your face is smeared with sauce and grease. Not a pretty experience, and all the better for it.

Much as I love classic Buffalo wings, I wanted to serve a different iteration alongside Elusive Brewing and Hop Burns & Black’s collaboration smoked porter, Aztec Challenge. Brewed with smoked cherry wood malt, pequin chiles, and scotch bonnet peppers, its kindled heat is tempered by a rich, almost sticky sweetness.

These wings respond in turn. Their sauce riffs on a Sam Sifton recipe for baked Trini-Chinese chicken, and combines Caribbean flavours - potent scotch bonnet hot sauce, the brightness of lime juice - with Chinese ingredients like oyster sauce, soya sauce, and anise-scented five-spice powder.

The wings themselves, made using J. Kenji López-Alt’s tried-and- true double-fry method, are shatteringly crisp underneath that slick of sauce. Sweet, spicy, and umami-laced, they’re just what this beer deserves.

Chinese-Caribbean Wings
Serves two as an appetiser, one as a main

For the wings:
1.5 litres rapeseed oil
500g chicken wings, the juiciest and fattest you can find, cut into flats and drumettes (tips removed)

For the sauce:
10g butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
3 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs dark brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs soya sauce
2 tsp scotch bonnet-based hot sauce (try Dalston Chillis' version)
1 spring onion, white parts discarded, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

You’ll be frying the wings twice; for the first fry, add the oil and prepared wings to a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and place over medium-high heat. Use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature; you’ll want to raise the heat to between 107-121 degrees C. Cook the wings, stirring and flipping occasionally, until tender and just cooked through, but not golden on the outside, roughly 15-20 minutes.

Remove with tongs or a spider-style strainer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack and lined with paper towels. Let rest an hour at room temperature or covered in the fridge overnight.

When ready to do your second fry, heat the oil to 205 degrees C and remove your chicken from the fridge. While it’s heating up, prep the sauce: place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the garlic and ginger and stir frequently until the raw flavour and aroma has dissipated and the mixture is starting to brown, 3-5 minutes. Next, add the five-spice powder and stir quickly to toast before adding the oyster sauce, dark brown sugar, lime juice, soya sauce, and hot sauce. Turn heat to low and cook until just warmed through, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the oil is at temperature, carefully add the chicken pieces with tongs to avoid splattering. Stir to make sure they’re not sticking to each other or the bottom of the pot. Cook, keeping the oil temperature ideally between 190-200 degrees (it will drop when the wings are added) for roughly 10 minutes, or until the wings are crispy and golden. Remove from the oil to the wire rack and let rest for a moment.

Pour your sauce into a large bowl and add the wings. Toss well until all pieces are well coated. Serve in a bowl, topped with sliced spring onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of our Elusive collab Aztec Challenge while you can.

#HBBAdvent Beer 23: BrewDog Neon Overlord Mango & Chilli IPA (Scotland)

BrewDog says: This chili mango IPA lures you in with intense juicy fruit before sending you reeling with a habanero knockout punch. This dry, light- bodied IPA has devastating bitterness backed up with spicy heat, firing your tastebuds on all cylinders - citrus, chili and resin, on light biscuit malt. The mango adds a sweet, almost soothing layer, which balances the incredible intensity of this twisted India pale ale.

We say: OK, so we're properly sick of BrewDog's stunts too. The casino thing? Spare us. But it can't be denied that the Scottish attention-seekers knock out some pretty great specials, one of which being the new Self Assembly Pope (like drinking a Bounty bar) and another being this one. Neon Overlord appeals to us for obvious reasons - chilli and beer, together? Bring it. If you hate chilli beers, this may not float your boat quite so much. But if you don't mind a little kick, OK, a LOT of kick, then this is the beer for you. A fruity hit from the mango followed by a powerful chilli rush. We love it. - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Neon Overlord was so popular at ours that we've completely sold out, but keep an eye out for more BrewDog specials in the future.

#HBBAdvent Beer 3: Fierce Beer Fuego Feroz Spiced Pale Ale (Aberdeen)

[NB: Some editions of the calendar feature Fierce Beer's Cafe Racer, a glorious coffee and vanilla porter.]

Fierce Beer says: Fuego Feroz is to be consumed with caution! This Pale Ale is packed full of Habaneros - so it is hot! FIERCELY hot! It will smack you around the chops like a wild Nino going full pelt at a Pinata. You have been warned. (Spice levels may vary)

We say: Well, of course there was going to be at least one chilli beer in a HB&B collection. We absolutely love this zesty beer from this new Scottish brewery. Beer writer Matthew Curtis of Total Ales recently featured Fuego Feroz for his No More Heroes column on our blog, and describes it thus: ”The chilli heat hits you like a blowtorch to the face, but habanero heat is a pleasant, savoury heat. The lime juice tempers this and add a touch of sweet, zingy balance, which mellows this beer out. It’s that lime kick that reminds me of sipping on margs in some of my favourite cocktail bars.” It’s delightfully refreshing and invigorating, and just writing this is making us thirsty - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Look out for Fierce Beer Fuego Feroz when it's back in stock, either in store or via our online shop.

No More Heroes XXVII – Fierce Brewing Fuego Feroz Spiced Pale Ale

Just because it’s getting colder outside doesn’t mean you should stop making margaritas. Or indeed, drinking beers that taste like them, because that’s the first thought that came to mind when I first sipped on this week’s beer. That and, “ouch.”

You see, Fuego Feroz, a pale ale from Aberdeen’s Fierce Beer Company, isn’t like other pales. In fact the label even warns that this beer is to be consumed with caution. That’s because Fuego Feroz is brewed with habanero peppers and the spicy flavour these impart is balanced by the addition of fresh lime juice.

“We actually wanted to make an all-chilli beer, so added the habaneros on their own first,” Fierce founder and brewer Dave Grant says. “However the flavour was a little dull, so we added fresh lime juice too.”

The combination might sound a little wild, and believe me when I say this is a long way from your run of the mill pale ale, but somehow it just works. On tasting the beer the chilli heat hits you like a blowtorch to the face, but habanero heat is a pleasant, savoury heat. The lime juice tempers this and add a touch of sweet, zingy balance, which mellows this beer out. It’s that lime kick that reminds me of sipping on margs in some of my favourite cocktail bars.

“Chilli and spice lovers really love it, and can’t get enough,” Grant says.

This is without a doubt a beer for chilli (and hot sauce) fans. Its similarity to a margarita also means that it pairs well with dishes such as fish tacos or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, breakfast quesadillas. Caution is advised, however, as heat levels vary from bottle to bottle and you could end up playing Russian Roulette with your palate if you’re not careful.

Music Pairing – Kurt Vile, Pretty Pimpin’
The best way to tame chilli heat is to mellow it out with something creamy. As I don’t have any natural yoghurt to hand, this sublime slice of chilled out alt-pop from Kurt Vile will have to do instead. This track features one of the most hypnotic and enjoyable pieces of guitar playing I’ve heard in years, and as it gently trundles on throughout pretty much the entire track, you’ll soon forget that the beer you’re drinking has set your mouth aflame.

Find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. You can find Fierce Beer Fuego Feroz in store or at our online shop to get it delivered to your door.