For 15 years, Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest has been bringing novel, boundary-pushing, sometimes gnarly brews to Boston.
Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, whose Delaware brewery sponsors the festival, literally wrote the book on extreme brewing back in 2006. So it should come as no surprise that Dogfish is debuting something especially inventive at EBF this year.
IN YOUR MACE! is what it sounds like: a stout, brewed with coffee, chicory, milk sugar, and the two active ingredients in Mace brand pepper spray.
Calagione, who is from Massachusetts, got the idea while dining recently with a childhood friend who is also a Mace Brand executive.
“We got this super duper industrial strength and food grade oleoresin capsicum (chili oil) from a supplier in India,” says Calagione. “The brewers I worked with thought we were nuts, and thought this was a beer nobody would ever want to drink. But everybody was pleasantly surprised by how drinkable it came out.”
An additional ingredient in the beer is mace the spice, which is the outer hull of the nutmeg shell. While working with the spicy ingredients, the Dogfish team wore HazMat respirators to prevent inhalation, dialing the spice down to a level that wouldn’t require drinkers to do the same.
“If you can envision a tabletop in a sterile laboratory with beakers on a stand, we’re dosing in drops of this pure goodness,” says Calagione.
The beer’s other ingredients are designed to mitigate the effects of the spice: milk sugars are not fermentable and add sweetness, and nitrogen carbonation keeps it creamy. The beer’s ABV was kept low (5 percent) so as not to amplify the heat.
“I wanted it to be sweet and roasty,” says Calagione. “The goal of the spice was a tingling sensation and to keep it on the right side of palatable. It’s right on the edge of a sadomasochist sensation.”
Calagione wants to be clear the beer is not the spiciest beer ever brewed, and that it’s safe to drink.
IN YOUR MACE! will be pouring at all three sessions of the Extreme Beer Fest, which takes place Feb. 2-3. The beer will also be available on draft at the Dogfish Head Tasting Room in Milton, Del., and there will be a limited 750ml bottle release of 200 bottles Feb. 17 at 11 a.m.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.