Saturday, March 23, 2013

El Toro Brewing Company - Ghost Chili Golden Ale

Big things can come in
small packages.
I visited Apex Bar here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon yesterday after work. How is it I have never been to Apex before? They have fifty, 5-freaking-0, taps of fine craft beer behind that bar. Be aware that Apex only takes cash into their old-timey cash register, but it's well-worth the trip to the ATM. Many, many of my fellow bearded beer geek brethren patronizing this place, and quite a few Ladies of the Brew as well.

I saw they had a Ghost Chili beer on the menu. Okay, I give up. If people want to call a "chile" a "chili", then so be it, but "chili" with an "i" is a spicy meat stew they make in Texas. "Chile" is a hot pepper. It's a Spanish word, so it's pronounced CHEE-LAY, not CHILLY like you're cold. Yeah, I know, the word has been Americanized. Yada, yada. I'm a curmudgeon-y old grouch.

Aaaaaanyway, I ordered a glass of the El Toro Ghost Chili Golden Ale and it was delivered to me in a teeny, tiny 6 oz. glass. The folks at Apex know what they're doing because a small dose of this brew goes a long, long way. It was also recommended that I have another beer on hand, so I got a stout that they had on nitro.

Now, I'm a big-time chilehead. I can handle the heat. The Ghost Pepper is also known as the Bhut Jolokia. It was discovered in some remote Indian jungle and and until recently was the undisputed hottest chile on the planet. (The Scorpion Pepper currently holds claim as the hottest. I've never had the honor of meeting the Scorpion.) I've eaten a whole--albeit tiny--Ghost Pepper and it was f@#king hot. No lie. I was in pain and started hallucinating.

Ghost Chili Golden Ale was a clear golden color with the tiniest, pretty white head. The head dissipated quickly and no lacing was left behind across the top of that mini glass.

Aroma was grainy malt with a big chile pungency in the background. It smells hot. I bet if you got some in your eye, it would sting.

Taste. Yeah, this is a spicy brew. I didn't have any problem handling it, but those less initiated may have an issue, I'm just sayin'. If you think Tabasco is hot, this is not a good beverage choice for you. I didn't pick up much more than the chile after a few sips, but it's a good flavor. I'm wondering if they used more than just the Ghost Pepper for flavor. Maybe Jalapeno? From my experience the Bhut Jolokia isn't the most tasty chile. This beer has a really nice pepper taste to it, besides the heat.

Thin to medium mouthfeel. Nice carbonation. Finish is...well, hot. You get a little lip burn from this beer, which tells you it's more than a tad spicy.

I like this balls to the walls beer. It could have been just a novelty drink--one you use to mess with your brother-in-law--but the brewer made something worth drinking more than once. Kudos for that. I'm giving Ghost Chili Golden Ale a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4.


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