How I invented Chili Beer

April 27, 2023

BY Crazy Ed Chilleen


 Sometime in 1991, I got a call from a man that owned some Mexican Restaurants in California. He was looking for someone to bottle private-label beer for his restaurants and had heard of us through one of our bottle suppliers. We arranged a meeting and who would have known that out of that meeting, a legend would be born.


 We met at the Pointe Resort on 16th Street for dinner and during the discussion about a unique beer for his restaurant he asked me, " Could you make a spicy beer?" I thought about it and the idea of adding chili powder to 350-gallon batches of beer could result in ruining the whole batch if it didn't taste right. At that point, my crazy mind kicked in and I thought about the worm in a bottle of Mexican Mescal which resulted in thinking, " What if we dropped a chili pepper in each bottle." He thought that was a good idea and we agreed to pursue the project and see how it worked out.


 On my way home from that meeting, I called Maria, my wife, and told her I had this insane idea. When she heard it there was dead silence. She was used to this kind of ideas from me so this was nothing new for her.


 I stopped at an Albertson's Store on the way home and searched in the pepper department to find some peppers. My criteria was, it had to fit in the bottle. Jalapeños were too big and all I could find was a can of Serrano peppers in what they call Escabeche or oil, carrots, and onions.


 Our German Brewmeister subscribed to the Bavarian Purity Law that said you add nothing to beer except Water, Hops, Yeast, and Malted Barley. To put  a chili pepper in a bottle would be blasphemy and violate everything he stood for......but I paid his salary so when I told him to take the peppers out of the can, wash them off, and drop them in some bottles when they bottled next, he reluctantly did as I asked.


 Every Friday afternoon at the brewery bar was drinking and tasting time for all the beers and a bunch of my friends always came by to see what was new. About two weeks after dropping the peppers Eric, The brewmeister, came out with some of the bottles with peppers in them and asked, " What do you want me to do with these....throw them away?" No way we wanted to taste them. Bottles were opened and passed around......... The beer was HOT and SPICY REAL SPICY...TOO SPICY....Dead silence then comments......" You are on to something here." Paul Murphy my restaurant friend from Prescott said, " This is going to be your fortune and Legacy.


Chili Beer went on to sell thousands of cases worldwide. I eventually sold the brand to the Mexican brewery that was bottling it and they sold out to Modelo, who quit bottling it, and it disappeared from the market.


Since I'm the only one who knows how to make Chili Beer you would think I'd try and resurrect it. Believe me I have tried but at 85 years old I'm not the same 24/7 working guy I used to be.


One thing is for sure," since I created Chili Beer there is a whole new generation who have never tasted it."


If anyone knows of a brewery or a group of people who would like to get in the beer business contact me pleases.