Each year for the last 17 years the Cap and Hare Homebrew Club has organized and run a competition called Iron Mash. In the competition each homebrew team is challenged with a variety of ingredients, always some very non-traditional ingredients as well, to come up with a beer that not only matches a specific BJCP style but also highlights the specialty ingredients.
This year Nick and I were challenged with creating a beer using malt and hops from different countries, but no two ingredients from the same country, and we had to choose two specialty ingredients from three options of either Swiss Miss instant cocoa, Tajín chili salt or Cubeb Pepper. After some quick research, because time is limited, we chose to do an American Stout with Swiss Miss and the Cubeb peppers added to the boil as well as in the keg.
In the midst of brewing this beer we made a bit of a crazy discovery. Cubeb peppers did not have a taste or aroma of all spice and black pepper like the Internet told us but smelled and tasted like menthol! But that’s not all! We also found out that cubeb pepper was used many years ago as a treatment for Gonorrhea! Because of that, Nick suggested we name it “Sexual Chocolate”. As the day drew near when we had to turn in bottles of our entry as well as serve it to our fellow competing home brewers we found that the Swiss Miss character as well as the cubeb pepper character was not as strong as we felt it should be. That necessitated us adding more to the keg and then transferring that beer into another keg before bottling and serving. We went through several tastings to get the balance right so that you could taste the specialty ingredients but also still taste the beer…not always an easy task with beers like this.
As the day of the event arrived we served our beer alongside a number of other homebrew teams and also presented the second part of our Iron Mash entry which was a good paired with our beer. We had homemade cinnamon caramel popcorn we served with it that helped to bring out the chocolate character of the beer.
There were some fantastic and interesting beer and food entries and in the end we got best of show for our beer! Not only did we receive a really cool engraved mash paddle as an award but also our beer will be brewed by Rahr and Sons Brewing here in Fort Worth, Texas as their Pro-am entry at GABF this fall!!