Brewing with Pink Peppercorn

So named because it resembles a regular peppercorn, this ingredient is actually part of the cashew family. Still, adding it to a beer adds a spicy, floral kick.

John Holl Feb 8, 2018 - 2 min read

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When he was a chef in the Caribbean, Michael Carroll learned to cook with tropical ingredients. It makes sense that he would bring some of those flavors to his brewery, Band of Bohemia, in Chicago, especially where the winters could use a bit of warmth.

Pink peppercorns, the dried berries of the Brazilian pepper tree, are a hearty ingredient, Carroll says, and add a spicy floral note to beer. It’s why he found them the perfect complement to a rye beer, one that already has a touch of spice. For the beer he makes, he adds guava—pink with pink he says—because when you ferment guava, all the sweetness goes away and you’re left with a tart, funky, Caribbean terroir on the back note, a “jungle note.”

Then, Carroll uses a German yeast, but with the ingredients, the beer winds up tasting more like a saison. So, some might call this a fruit beer, or a spiced beer, or try to put a style on it, but ultimately, Carroll just calls it a rye.

The pink peppercorns are added at 20 minutes before the end of the boil, and that helps them become more “of a back note as opposed to using a tincture, where you get a little more dusty peppery. This washes some of that out, and the yeast takes out that papery note,” says Carroll. He says the pepper flavor would be too abrasive if added in the mash.

Pink peppercorns are available at most grocery stores in the spice aisle. Thanks to its floral nature, it can also work well with other fruits in beers, such as passion fruit, pink grapefruit, or even mango.

While commonly found in saisons, it can be used in many other aromatic styles.

John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.