January 4, 2021

About Rohit Parwani
Born in the scorching heat of Chennai on a Sunday afternoon, I completed a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and headed straight for Edinburgh, Scotland. Ah Edinburgh! After sixteen months of learning how to brew a fine beer and distil an elegant spirit at Heriot-Watt University, of touring the breweries and distilleries in and around Scotland, of witnessing the passion that goes into making that pint of beer and that dram of Scotch whisky, I decided to return to India and spread what I had learnt. So here I am, Head Brewer at the first brewpub in Bangalore, still learning, still appreciating and still in awe of the magic of fermentation. As secretary of the Craft Brewers Association of India, I am also doing my part to make sure craft beer gets the attention it deserves.

How does different addition times of Chillies impact the flavor profile of the beer?
From my experiences, boiling Chillies for 5-10 minutes should suffice. Although I haven’t noticed any unpleasant flavors with the longer boiling times, but these short boiling times have given me better flavours comparatively.

Chilies can also be added to conditioning but there are some risks involved. Before adding to conditioning, Chillies must be sanitized just in case of infection. This can be accomplished by soaking them in alcohol for a while or just roasting them for a bit. Roasting brings out some additional interesting flavours.

I prefer adding them to the boil (either roasted on unroasted).

A few tips on extracting the most out of these specialty ingredients:
Flavour extraction depends on what you want the beer to taste like. Chillies add spiciness (capsaicin heat), aroma and taste depending upon when it is utilized in the brewing process. They can be de-seeded if you want mild spiciness or you may leave the seeds in to make it properly spicy.

The degree of chopping will also impact the flavours extracted from the Chillies. We usually chop the Chillies fine to ensure maximum extraction during boil. Using whole Chillies may cause processing difficulties.

What are some of the quick ways to find out the flavor impact of specialty ingredients well before making a full batch of beer?
Buy a beer close to the style of beer you envision for the ingredient. Make a few cocktails with said ingredient (different cocktails with different amounts) and check for flavour compatibility. Note the balance in flavour and drinkability and then fine-tune your intended addition.

Things to keep in mind while purchasing the specialty ingredients –
It is best to procure Chillies a day in advance for the brew to ensure maximum freshness. Being said that, dry Chilles can also be used but the quantity and the addition times will have to be altered based on their distinctive difference in flavour compared to fresh Chillies.

Final thoughts
Using any experimental ingredients will entail a similar process of fine-tuning. There’s only so much we can theoretically calculate. Making cocktails, brewing teas with the specialty ingredients to emulate boil additions (especially for spices, which will have to be ground) are some of the practical ways to get a better understanding of their flavor profile.

Fruits can be pureed and leaves can be chopped. The only way to get your flavour right is by trial and error; with different types of ingredients, different degrees of processing and different times of addition.

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