This is related to a previous question I asked when I wasn't as clinically insane as I am now. Allow me to explain:

A couple of months ago, I came upon Stone brewery's Crime and Punishment beers where they aged two of their ales on the world's hottest chili peppers. They were delicious, but disappointingly, they were underwhelming when it came to spicy heat. I expected to cough, hiccup, and possibly even visit the ER after hearing what they put in them, but I managed to champion both beers without any issue. What started as a disappointment quickly turned into masochism, as I've found that somehow, in some sadistic way, I have quite a tolerance for capsaicin.

From what I've heard from other homebrewers, chili heat dies off quickly in beer, so my mindset was that of "go overboard, and the worst you'll have to do is let it age until the heat dies down." With that goal in mind, I settled on an Imperial porter clocking in at 1.110 OG, using WLP090 for yeast. I ground up a total of six ounces of dried chilies in a coffee grinder (that'll make for one hell of an April fools trick on your better, angrier, coffee drinking half by the way), including dried arbol, chipotle, and another that I've since forgotten. I soaked this ground chili powder in bourbon and dumped them into the beer to age. After a day, my masochistic obsession encouraged me to draw a sample, and it was painful. Tolerable, but painful. I was convinced I needed more, but before I made any further investments, I wanted to see what aging would do to it. After seven days, even with the pepper powder still aging in the beer, it had lost heat. It had a pleasant pepper flavor, but significantly less heat.

Well that just will not do.

I went and purchased a quarter ounce of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chilies off of Amazon just now. I want this to burn. I want to be able (or not for that matter) to drink this and regret every sip. I want absolute pain and agony because Stone brewery couldn't deliver. I want to feel spicy pain, and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is sure to deliver, being the hottest known pepper in existence, clocking in at up to two million scoville units (for reference, habaneros are anywhere between 100k - 350k). I will no doubt regret my bravery, but I have a pass considering my admitted level of insanity.

Will this ridiculous amount of capsaicin in the beer adversely effect the yeast in any way? I do plan to bottle condition this beer versus kegging it as I normally would (goodbye bottling bucket). While this masochistic exercise in pain is a colorful one, I'd at least like to make sure the yeast survives the beating to bottle condition the beer.

  • Your beer sounds yummy! If you can't get enough heat you can always try pepper extract: hotsauce.com/16-Million-PURE-Capsaicin-Crystals-2-0ml-p/…
    – user2637
    Feb 10, 2014 at 6:40
  • I am doing now Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion flavor wine and it seems that yeast may not process these chilli. After one day I still do not see much activity . I will let you know in couple of days how it goes. And how was your beer? Success or failure?
    – Maxula
    Apr 13, 2018 at 8:53
  • This sounds highly uncharted...but being someone of a similar sense of mashochism...I am quite interested in the result...I've considered trying to do something similar with hard ciders and meads. Though admittedly I happened to stumble here looking to make a super spicy dough, though i suppose the questions pretty much the same in both cases...does the capsaicin play nice. Jan 15, 2020 at 8:30

1 Answer 1


This MSDS sheet lists Capsaicin as mutagenic in bacteria and yeast, although it doesn't state specifically which strains and by how much.

I think the relevant question is, how much is too much? Clearly chili beers can be made, but perhaps the levels of Capsaicin were not significant enough to hinder yeast activity. Given the amount and specific variety of chili you plan to use, you may well be in uncharted territory! I would suggest taking a packet of dry yeast, rehydrating and making a non-stirred starter complete with the chopped chilies. If the starter takes off and you see kraeusen, then you can assume the yeast function is still ok. You should probably also taste the starter, mainly to check for any off flavors but also to satisfy your masochistic tendencies!

Capsaicin, or C18H27NO3 is a pretty big molecule, so I wonder if it can even pass through the semi-permeable yeast cell membrane.

  • Thanks for the suggestion, I'll give the starter a shot when the chilies arrive.
    – Scott
    Feb 12, 2014 at 14:12
  • PMID 12005045 (free full text) gives some nice data on yeast growth under capsaicin. Up until 200 ppm nothing happens at all, but it slows down quite a bit at 500 ppm. Yeast grows even slower if the pump they use to remove capsaicin from the cell gets knocked out, so I guess the chemical does get inside the cell. Jan 22, 2022 at 4:11
  • 200 ppm capsaicin is about 3200 scoville units (ignoring the requirement that you use the dry mass, of course). That should be satisfying enough for most humans: standard tabasco (95% water) is about that hot when in the proper dry-weight scoville, so in this bastardized scoville it would be 1/20 as hot. Jan 22, 2022 at 4:14

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