beer reviews

How can beer be peppery?


Beer reviewers like to use certain words time and time again. ‘Peppery’ is one that we’ve seen a lot but which has left us nonplussed — what are they on about?

Red Rock’s Rushy Mede organic ale (bottle-conditioned, 4.4%) helped us to get our heads round it.

It’s something like Hopback Summer Lightning but with a spicy, tongue-tingling edge. Nettles? Medicinal herbs? Although we’re not always impressed by organic beers, we really loved this and found it not only illuminating but also a very convincing imitation of a cask ale.

17 replies on “How can beer be peppery?”

I wonder if anyone can be bothered to write a script to trawl beer blogs and build a word cloud with the adjectives that are used most frequently in tasting notes?

Well, I understand from one craft brewer I met that some beers like Fantome saison in Belgium has white pepper in it which would make it, you know, peppery. I think a sharp spicy weedy hop, however, is better compared to a specific green like arugula or the taste on your lips after you drive a lawn mower into a ditch of weeds.

Pepper’s a useful word when describing the flavour of lots of wines and beers.

I read this last night just after writing about the peppery hop quality of Orval. I’ve had wines that have tasted like fresh green peppers and reds that have a dry, spicy peppery flavour. I think that’s what it is – an almost-savoury, slightly spicy, dryness.

Mark: bingo, that’s it. I was also thinking about the tingle you get from mustard leaves.

I still don’t know what “biscuity malt” means. What kind of biscuits? Jammy Dodgers? Garibaldis?

For me, “biscuity malt” means a Kristall Weizen, the real “champagne of beers”.

Brakspeare’s Organic Ale was very good indeed, and for a long time was the closest thing you could get to a good fresh pint of cask ale (in my local supermarket at least). They’ve stopped making it bottle conditioned, though, and now it’s just a fairly ordinary bottled bitter.

Phenolics created by many Belgian strains of yeast lend a distinct peppery/spicy flavor.

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