Pepper beers walk a fine line. The best ones, as is the case with most spicy endeavors, are as much about flavor as they are heat.
Some, like Twisted Pine’s Ghost Face Killah, exist almost solely to push the boundaries of what one person can consume (try finishing a 12-ounce bottle of it by yourself — it’s impossible), but those beers are made for a niche market.
Others, like the Pep in Yo Step Double IPA from Trinity’s Infusion Brewing Co., offer a more broad appeal, able to be consumed in quantity but still hot enough to satisfy a reasonable capsaicin itch.
Since opening earlier this year, Infusion has seen Pep in Yo Step become an unlikely top seller, with regulars ordering it neat, or even blending it with the house porter. It’s unusual for a pepper beer to get so much love, but Pep has a few attributes that makes it worth repeat sipping.
The base beer is Infusion’s double IPA, a 9 percent alcohol by volume brew hopped with a somewhat traditional bill of Magnum, Centennial and Cascade hops. Pep in Yo Step adds 50 or so jalapeño and serrano peppers to the mix, grilled to add a smoky and savory element to the brew.
Pep pours copper and has a sweetish nose that’s equal parts floral and earthy. On first sip, there’s pepper — lots of it. Using the house double IPA as a base is a smart choice because it allows for ample spiciness without overwhelming other flavors. The flavor and heat of the grilled peppers balance out the beer’s malty sweetness.
You’ll feel a little heat on your lips and in the back of your throat as you drink, but it’s relatively modest, making a full pour not only feasible, but even repeatable. There’s a reason why Pep in Yo Step sells so well at Infusion’s tasting room (7813 Mitchell Blvd Suite 103, Trinity): it’s worth trying more than once.
— Justin Grant
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