I was given this brew with a very intense sort of warning. “This will make you break out in a sweat,” the boss told me. “The jalapenos are serious business.”
Having previously worked in a Mexi-cali restaurant where the cooking with and eating of various types of high Scoville chili peppers was commonplace, the warning was taken with a grain of salt. In this bohemian pilsner from Throwback, which boasts jalapeno peppers as an added ingredient, my first thought was immediately to wonder why they didn’t opt for habanero peppers or ghost peppers instead. However all things being equal and my own sense of what to anticipate from this brew still up in the air, I took it home for review and cracked it open, rather hopeful that the experience would be as described.
To start off with, it is a lightly colored beer. Golden, almost copper, it looks and even smells much like any other pilsner, with only a slight hint of something…different to it. The initial sip hits the lips and tongue smoothly, without much in the way of marked spice or heat at the outset, but again with something…different to it. But then, sometime perhaps just between sips, or otherwise upon a second, it arrives. A tingling on the lips and tongue, and warmth in the back of the throat.
Enter, the jalapeno. It is the sort of sensation that rolls up on one quietly like a spicy assassin hell bent on silently sneaking up behind you and smothering you with diced chilies. The blood pressure rises a little as the heart beats faster and soon the warmth in the throat evolves into a mild burn. The lips continue to tingle and the tongue sizzles just a bit.
This is not to say that the heat of jalapeno is the sole characteristic of the brew. However it is difficult really draw much else from it. The mouthfeel is smooth and of a medium weight. The underlying flavors to the brew are, from what I can gather in terms of general profile, crisp and alive. However for the moment, going any further into this is made difficult by the now settling heat which is overtaking the palate. A sensation not all that unlike the one experienced after consuming exceptionally hot salsa or hot sauce.
As a following sip cools down the palate once more, subtle notes of citrus and malt are noticeable and diminish slowly as the hot after burn returns. After a few more pulls from the glass, I notice the hot sensations beneath the skin and within the nervous system begin kicking in. The sense of a sincere physiological reaction to capsaicin coursing through the veins and muscles grows, turning what is generally an ordinary drinking experience into a more visceral physical one. Low in gravity, registering a paltry 4.8% abv, the Spicy Bohemian replaces the intensity of an 8%, 9%, 10% or higher drink with that of the feeling one gets from an exceptionally spicy meal.
Whereas it was a trick to really sort out what about this beer was appealing in regards to its own pilsner nature, the heat itself stands out in the mind as a worthwhile element worth returning to. Despite typically going for heavier gravity, hoppier, maltier, sweeter or even bitter beers, this bohemian is something else unto itself. And for what it is worth, it is a something else I’d happily enjoy again.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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