Chili and beer - a perfect match?
Spicy food and beer. Is there a better combination?
Aside from the time where you really need that mango lassi to cool you down after getting carried away on the vindaloo, beer is almost always the best accompaniment to fiery food.
For perhaps this reason, the craft beer community and chilli-lovers seem to gravitate together.
On the beer side, brewer Joe Wood, of Liberty fame, is well-known for his love of chillies and Youtube videos featuring himself sweating through the latest flammable fruit he's managed to get his hands on.
In fact, there are an astounding number of videos on the internet of not just Joe but countless people eating hot chillies in all manners, be it raw or blending them up in a shot glass.
I've included an oldie, yet a goodie, of the chilli video variety at the bottom of the blog. Watch as a grizzled Hawaiian local eats the "ghost chilli" and suffers the consequences. People obviously love watching this poor (some would say idiotic) man writhe in pain on the couch, because it's had over seven million views.
Personally, my love of insanely hot chilli has waned over the past few years.
I'd like to say it's because I'm more mature, but that's an unlikely development so I'd be more inclined to say that my tastebuds have just had enough.
I went through a period where I also sought out the hottest things I could find, be it raw chillis, hot sauces or mouth-burning curries.
It stemmed, I believe, from a particular take-away shop near my high school called "Curry Man", run by a lovely chap who became known as "the curry man".
My friends and I would head to the shop and order the hottest curries we could, then compete to see who could finish their dish.
The curry man was a great bloke. Once, when we asked him to specially make us the hottest thing he could he was scolded by his wife who said something along the lines of "don't you dare make those kids your secret family recipe thermonuclear curry, it will kill them".
Curry man nodded solemnly, then winked at us when his wife left the kitchen and whipped us up the dish, whereupon we raced home, started scoffing it, then died.
When it comes to blending chilli and beer together, there are plenty to choose from but I've found most of them to be lackluster. In general, it seems a far better option to go down the food/beer matching route.
When a chilli beer does work, it seems to be a darker beer but even then it's not an ingredient I seek out when looking at a taplist.
The chilli eating champs will have several chilli beers if it is your thing, but if not it's still worth heading along for the hilarity that watching people eat insanely hot chillis brings.
Organised by Northland company Fire Dragon Chillies, who grow specimans with horrifying names such as the trinidad scorpion or the carolina reaper, the Wellington heats are on this Sunday at Little Beer Quarter.
The capital also has the pleasure of also hosting the national finals on July 5 at the Rogue & Vagabond, where you'll be able to witness the best chilli eaters (or just those with no tastebuds) duke it out.
A homebrew chilli beer competition will also be judged during the finals, so if you've got some spare chillies lying around and fancy your chances at brewing a decent beer with them you can find out more here.
Are you a chilli-head? What do you think about brewing beer with chilli?