This year, I embraced the organic Carolina Reaper pepper as part of my cider ingredients. I have used chipotle peppers before but when I saw the World’s Hottest Pepper was available as organic, I had to try it. My first plan was for my Ruby Reaper cider mistelle but since I had a few extra I started thinking about how I could use it in a regular cider as well and not just a mistelle. Pairing it with hops seemed like a great choice. Both are earthy and strong flavors. Also, the hops would aid in the cider I used, which had good sugar and acid but only mild tannins.
My approach was to make a concentrated tea. I usually try to limit my dilution to about 8 fluid ounces (237 ml) per gallon (3.8 liters). I used dried peppers added them and some hops to about 12 fluid ounces of water to steep for about 10 minutes at medium-low heat. I added his tea to my cider as a secondary process and let it age out. There isn’t any sugars that should ferment so this is more about the flavors maturing and the cider clearing.
The flavor is dry and tart apple with the hops showing up right before the heat. The heat builds as you drink it. The first few drinks don’t appear as hot as the last sip. It is a hard cider that is great for pairing with bold foods. It is a definite goto cider for hamburgers, cheese based pastas, Mexican, Thai, sausages, or similar dishes with robust flavor profiles, especially if you enjoy some heat.
If you have a cider that comes out a little too dry and thin of body, you should consider turning it into a Flamin’ Hop. However, it is also a great cider to purpose build. I used ElStar apples, which you should be able to find or something similar. They tend to be tart and not a lot of tannins. For more details on how to make it, check out the Flamin’ Hops recipe in my recipes sections. Here are quick links to the recipes.