Beer Review 0342: Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah Chile Beer
Recently, my little town, located on the northern outskirts of Winston-Salem, NC, had a scheduled power outage so the electric company could perform equipment maintenance. Also recently, Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado) began distribution in North Carolina — with the new brewery came probably their most talked about beer, Ghost Face Killah.
Brewed with Anaheim, Fresno, Jalapeño, Serrano, Habanero, and Bhut Jolokia peppers, the base beer here is a Wheat Ale and it comes in at a mere 5% ABV (alcohol by volume). But you might be asking yourself, “what is a Bhut Jolokia pepper.” Well, it’s affectionally known as the “ghost pepper,” a/k/a the hottest pepper in the world.
At 200 times the heat of the Jalapeño, the Ghost Pepper ranks 855,000 Scoville Units, a scale used to determine the amount of capsaicin present in peppers. The Ghost Pepper is so hot that it can be weaponized, and in the making of this beer, the brewers wore masks and gloves while working with the raw material.
I figured there was no better time to try this beer than while the power was out, using candles for lighting. This review is going to be a bit different than normal; I’m not going to rate this beer on my point scale since it is more of a novelty beer than a serious brew, and I figure since everyone likes to watch people try extremely hot food and drink (right?!), I’d film myself trying this one.
So here’s the video! Scroll below for more tasting notes.
Now that you’ve presumably watched the video, let me fill in some details I didn’t mention. Ghost Face Killah poured with average carbonation, but it went completely flat within five minutes of being in the glass. The very first initial taste starts with some bland wheat beer, and the spice quickly ramps up, attacking the back of the throat. It’s initially alarming and grows more intense, while a pleasant smoked pepper flavor lingers. The spice pushes through to the tongue and lips, but isn’t anywhere near as hot as the back of the throat.
You’ll notice in the video that I took small sips; I couldn’t imagine taking a full-sized sip. The heat is strong, then becomes intense, but it quickly levels out to more of a toasty burn instead of a roaring blaze. The spice dries out the mouth, which I think is what makes this so drinkable; you want another sip badly but the spice makes you wonder why you think that after you have another go. The mouthfeel is horrible, as you might imagine; extremely prickly. But the flavor of the peppers, minus the heat, is actually very good and makes you wonder how Twisted Pine would do with a tamed down version of this, concentrating more on flavor than the shock value of heat.
No way I could — or want — to sit down and drink an entire bottle. The appropriate serving for this would be at the end of the evening amongst friends who enjoy spicy foods or drink and want a good laugh at each other having tried “the hottest beer in the world.”
Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah, not rated (novelty beer). Price: $3.49 US for one twelve ounce bottle.
Editor’s note: After I wrote and shot the video, I did discover that Twisted Pine does make a version of this beer minus the Ghost Pepper. The beer is called Billy’s Chilies, and perhaps at a later date I’ll see if my bottle shop has this in and put it up for serious review.