A couple of years ago, I struggled to find words to describe what was, to that point, the worst beer I’ve ever had. I’m not talking about the macrolagers we beery types love to hate; even their greatest detractors would admit they don’t really taste of much. Some can be quite unpleasant, but anyone can close their eyes and chug them down if needed (which, of course, is why they are popular). No, the beer I had back then was revolting – it turned the stomach from the first taste. It was, of course, the infamous Garlic Beer.
Although the memory of seeing the slug-like garlic clove drifting around in the bottom of the bottle is fading, I’d thought my gag-inducing beer days were over. That was until I tried a beer that was almost as bad – in fact, it may actually have been worse. Again, this wasn’t an offering that was simply tasteless, or one that had gone off, or spoiled in some way. The experience of drinking Forstner Chili Hotbeer is unlike any other I’ve had.
It begins reasonably enough – if a little strangely. Completely flat opaque orange isn’t what I was expecting (for some reason I thought it would be brilliantly clear and bright red). The aroma is sweet, hot peppers – like the ones you get on Pizza Express American Hot pizzas, or those roquito peppers that are all the rage at olive stalls. To be honest, it actually smells quite nice – not in terms of something to drink, but as in a decent hot sauce for serving with nachos, or something.
Anyway, on to the taste. AHHHHHHHH!!!! It’s astonishing. Right from the start, from the very first moment of the tentative opening sip – mammoth chilli burn. It’s pure chilli. Heat. Like drinking a police-issue pepper spray. It makes you want to roll around on the floor crying for help. In short – it’s spicy. I had never before had a beer that is patently undrinkable, but this readers – this is the one. You could kill small animals with it.
Released as an ‘extra-sharp’ version of their regular draught chilli beer, I’m not quite sure what Handbrauerei Forstner were thinking. It seems utterly counterproductive to brew a drink that is painfully difficult to even sip. I know some people who quite enjoyed the firepower it deployed – but not me. I want to enjoy beer – go back to the glass on many occasions, and find each one rewarding. The only reward I got from Forstner Chili Hotbeer was sparklingly clear sinuses.