I have a recipe in front of me for a Saison of the spicy variety. It calls for the addition of one Jalapeno pepper, seeds included. First off, I do enjoy a fair amount of spice (far more than anyone I know or eat with regularly would enjoy), and one jalapeno that the recipe calls for seems sort of weak for my tastes, hence the inclusion of habaneros should I decide to get squirrely on my limits as a mortal.

My question is, will the addition of these peppers have adverse reactions on the yeast? Since yeast is a living organism, and the spicy defenses of these peppers are genetically engineered to fight off threats, will the spice hurt the yeast growth/fermentation?

  • Is the pepper added at the begining of fermenation, or during a secondary fermentation? Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 15:53
  • FWIW, I saw a program testing out various shark repellents, and they found chili to be completely ignored by the animal. I suspect the fiery reaction to chilies is limited to a small part of the animal kingdom, and will have NO affect on yeast, which are a type of fungus.
    – GHP
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 18:18
  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsaicin#Natural_function "...there is evidence that capsaicin evolved as an anti-fungal agent. The fungal pathogen, Fusarium, is known to infect wild chilies which reduces seed viability. Capsaicin deters the fungus, and in doing so limits this form of predispersal seed mortality."
    – baka
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 20:36

2 Answers 2


Here is a great article from Zymurgy that you can read that talks about chilies in beer. http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/2500/ndzym02-Chile_Beer.pdf

From the article the main issues with using chilies in beer will be reduced head retention from the oils present and a haze in the finished beer. There is no mention of a problem with fermentation and they recommend using the chilie in either like a dry hop or like a first wort hop or even directly in the bottle for maximum punch.

  • 1
    Would you mind summarizing that page's text? That way, if their link changes, we still get the gist of your answer.
    – GHP
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 18:12

I bottled a batch of hef last Summer, half jalapeño, half habanero. What I found was poor head retention, as suggested by the Zymurgy article. It hit the target ABV, but overcarbonated (likely due to the extra sugars from the peppers, which I didn't account for).

The other thing I discovered was that the habanero beer was ready to drink after only two weeks in the bottle, but the jalapeño needed closer to six weeks before it really hit the flavors I was looking for.

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