Twisted Pine Brewing Company has the distinction of being founded by one of the greatest names in craft brewing, Gordon Knight. Mr. Knight, started brewery after brewery in Colorado, moving on after each became established, after acquiring the 5 hectoliter system that he acquired from Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, the founders of New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins. Mr. Knight started Twisted Pine in 1995 with an initial line of three beers: American Amber Ale, Honey Brown Ale and Raspberry Wheat Ale. By late 1996, with Twisted Pine established, Mr. Knight sold the brewery to his friend, and current owner, Bob Baile. Over the years Twisted Pine grew, acquiring a larger facility in 2003 and expanded their product line, which currently consists of 31 beers including seasonal and special releases.
GhostFace Killah is a Chili beer, an increasingly popular style, defined by the addition of Chilies to a base beer, adding a wonderfully spicy kick to any beer. I am a big fan of all things spicy, ordering Tabasco by the gallon, Frank’s Red Hot by the gallon, and Sriracha in 28 oz bottles. A while back, I was talking to my good friend Russel, from Colorado Beer Adventures, who let me know about a beer that was supposedly the spiciest commercial chili beer. What can I say, I was hooked and knew that I had to track this beer down and taste it for myself to find out if it lived up to the hype. Unfortunately Twisted Pine does not distribute to Wisconsin, but I was down in Texas a few weeks back and was lucky enough to find a bottle in a liquor store down there. I picked up the bottle without thinking twice and split the bottle with my brother-in-law, or rather tried to, but more on that in my review below.
Ghost Face Killah currently has a 75 on Beeradvocate. Over at ratebeer, where apparently none of the reviewers were able to handle the heat, it has a 21 overall and a 23 for style. The problem over at ratebeer seems to be that people tried a chili beer that goes by the tagline "Hottest beer this side of Hell," and said that it was too spicy... If you don't like spice, stay away from spicy foods, wimps...
They Say:Style: Chili Beer IBU’S: 10 Hops – Willamette, Northern Brewer ABV 5%
Availability: This beer is seasonally available in CO, NE, NM, FL, MO, TX and LA.
GFK is brewed with 6 zany peppers. Anaheim, Fresno, Jalapeno, Serrano, Habanero and Bhut Jolokia – Otherwise known as the Ghost Pepper. 200 times the heat of jalapenos, Bhut Jolokia are the hottest peppers in the world, a pepper so hot it can be weaponized. So hot that our brewers had to wear masks and gloves to cut them up. Aroma of smoked chillis fills the nose on first whiff, but don’t let it linger to long. Immediately on first taste GFK has a nice golden wheat flavor, but this is only for a fleeting moment before the temperature rises. Just hold on, the warmth of this beer will set in for a long spicy burn. There is only one finish on this beer – HEAT!
Food Pairing: Ice-cream or milk, because that is all that is going to help you with this brew.
Okay, so I brought this bottle back to my brother-in-law’s house, poured out to equal glasses, and asked him if he would like to try a particularly spicy chili beer. He said sure, why not and happily reached out for the glass. I stood there in amazement as he quickly brought the glass up to his lips and took a huge gulp. Unsurprisingly his face turned bright red, almost like those cartoon characters who eat a particularly hot pepper, I swear I could almost see the steam coming out of his ears. Apparently, I should have led by telling him it was the spiciest commercial beer in production. One gulp was all he could take, so I had my half bottle, and the remainder of his half.
So, knowing what to expect and seeing the effects of large gulps first hand I took even more time to savor Ghost Face Killah than I normally do with chili beers, I am glad I did because this is a surprisingly complex chili beer, far more so than any other chili beer that I have ever had.
It pours light golden, which is to be expected in a filtered wheat beer (the base), however it has no head (does capsaicin really do that?). The aroma is chock full of chipotle (smoked jalapeño). The flavor is initially smooth and wheaty, with a subtle toasted smokiness. The chipotle smokiness remains as the heat level rises with an initial spice hit, followed by a stronger smoked flavor and progressing to a wonderful burn, causing my sinuses to run, and my mouth to feel as though someone had set it on fire. The burn momentarily gave way long enough for an amazing fresh Anaheim pepper flavor, but that was short lived as the burn came back and persisted. Fortunately though, I was in Texas for my nephew’s birthday party which coincidentally meant that there was plenty of cake, frosting and ice cream around to mellow the heat.
That’s all for tonight, check back soon for a review of Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing Company.