Long name, long story. For those of you outwith the range of the culinary-tentacled beast that is BBC’s MasterChef, it’s essentially the X-Factor of cooking. There are several series, staged concurrently so they never overlap – one for celebrities, one for young chefs, and one for Joe Public. The most recent series was the latter of these, and it was won (gasp) by an American – and a beer-lovin’ Anglophile American at that. Tim Anderson, then manager of the Euston Tap, wowed all with his wacky fusion cuisine, and was head and shoulders over the other contestants.
Being a beery sort, and clearly a supremely gifted chef, Tim has recently turned his spatula to pairing dinners – one at Aberdeen’s Musa with BrewDog, and one at Edinburgh’s Caley Sample Room with Black Isle. As part of the event, the lucky Wisconsonian also brewed a special beer with each of the two producers. At BrewDog he came up with a 7.5% miso and walnut-infused schwarzbier called Mr Squirrel. With Black Isle he dreamed up a 7% smoked chilli doppelbock – Red Hot Chilli Bock.
Clearly an imaginative chap, the Chillibock was debuted at the Caley Sample Room pairing dinner – which alas the BeerCast was/were unable to attend. However, unlike the Mr Squirrel, the beer is now out in bottled form, so we managed to pick one up and put it to the test. Run as a limited edition, ours was number 73/864 (I can only imagine what 864 would taste like – plenty of chilli in there, I’ll bet). It poured a deep brownish black, and quite a thick pour at that. A frothy off-white head formed almost immediately.
The first thing of note was the aroma – highly peppery, like ground black pepper, which really tore through everything else. On tasting, you realise just how complex the beer is. Firstly, spicy peppercorn and a touch of sweet smoke, before that smoke builds until the finish – which is snatched away by the chilli. The more you have, the more smoke becomes evident, but the chilli really follows every time. It’s not red hot, but it’s definitely there. After a while, it catches the throat quite a bit. There’s certainly a buzz about it.
But is it nice? I guess that depends on whether you like the idea or not. It’s brilliantly put together – all of the big components are there, they all follow on from each other. It’s highly inventive. But again, is it nice? Well, no. Not really. It’s just too much – pepper, smoke and chilli. Pepper, smoke and chilli. Pepper, smoke and chilli. After a while, it simply beats you into submission.