Although beer flavoured with chillies is an occasional speciality today, an earlier type is known from newspapers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and gets mentioned in Charles Dickens' 'Household Words'. It appears to have been fermented to produce a fizz rather than make alcohol, in the manner of the many low-alcohol, or 'temperance', 'Botanical Beers' of the Victorian era, such as Ginger Beer.
Original Receipt from 'Monmouthshire Beacon' - Friday 24 February 1899
Some Winter Drinks.
Chilli Beer.—Put twenty chillies, half ounce of bruised ginger, and two pounds sugar into a pan. Pour over one gallon of boiling water; stir well; then add one gallon water and one ounce of German yeast. Stand in a warm place for six hours; then bottle, leaving all sediment at the bottom. Cork down good corks, and tie them down. Ready in 24 hours.
Our correspondent (March 2019) Helene Sharp says that; "I was brought up in Flixton a suburb of Manchester and my parents used to make Chilli beer. It was like ginger beer so not real beer at all. I recall the bottles exploding in the pantry sometimes ... My grandmother was born around 1893 and my mother 1915. "
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