CHILLI and lime are natural partners in plenty of recipes.
Beer though, is not generally on that list.
Refusing to be confined to tradition, Baffle Beer Brewery, ventured into the unknown and hit upon a winner.
What's more, the chilli and lime beer (named "Fiesta") is a testament to local production and ingredients.
The business, regarded as "Australia's most remotest craft brewery", is located at Baffle Creek, a bit over an hour north of Bundaberg.
Brewery owners, Bert and Bea Kangler, got the initial inspiration when from friends involved in Riverfeast, a collection of local food vendors and bars held at an old slipway overlooking the Burnett River each Friday night.
The beer was first shown to the public at the Chilli and Lime Fiesta at Riverfeast in July.
"They asked us if we could do a special beer for the event. We thought that’s a really good idea and so we started creating and planning," Mrs Kangler said.
The first batch sold out, supported by rave reviews and positive feedback.
The pair brewed 500 litres, its smallest batch size, and filled it into bottles and kegs.
"It was great fun, as it involved lots of handwork. Cutting up two big boxes of chillies, peeling many, many limes with a lovely old-fashioned manual machine and squeezing lime juice on a hand press.
"We used two different varieties of chillies and added them at different stages of the brewing process.
"Some went into the mash tun, so we had a mix of spelt grain and chillies afterwards that smelled amazing – and the cows liked it.
"We were very careful as we wanted to get all the flavours and aromas from the chillies but not a mouth-burning hot beer, so it was pretty exciting."
Meet the growers
THOSE chillies came from Australia's largest chilli producer, the Bundaberg-based, Austchilli.
Austchilli managing director, David De Paoli, said it was all about working with a neighbour.
"A product on its own is good but once you combine with others, the wow factor becomes greater," he said.
"And we all live in the same town so the greater exposure the region gets. It’s a win-win for all of us."
The other vital ingredient to the beer was the lime, courtesy of Bundy Limes.
She didn't have anything to do with the initial idea but Bundy Limes owner, Linda Vickers, said she was more than happy to supply the fruit.
"Bea dropped in to us here at Bundy Limes one day and we went into the shed and she chose the exact limes she wanted straight from the sorting line," Ms Vickers said.
And we all live in the same town so the greater exposure the region gets. It’s a win-win for all of us.
She echoed Mr De Paoli's thoughts on the benefits of local agricultural businesses working together.
"It has been a goal of mine since starting our business. It is just great to be able to work with other local growers and producers to create new and interesting products," she said.
"It’s a win for us as producers because we have double the marketing power and double the fun.
"But it’s also a win for the community and consumer because you get a unique and local product that can and do end up as recognisable and respected brands all over the world."
For the brewers, there was no hestitation in using produce grown on the doorstep.
"That was the reason why we thought we’ll do this straight away – it’s fantastic to use local ingredients," Mr Kangler said.
"Our business is pretty much based on the idea of using highest quality ingredients to create a unique product for our local area – we neither want to ship ingredients nor our products around the world; we believe in small business and love good food, farming and our local communities.
"So we use local ingredients wherever possible. Most of our beers are also named after places in our region: we have a 1770 IPA, Capricornia, Euleilah Ale, and of course they’re all Baffle Beer because they’re hand crafted in Baffle Creek."
We neither want to ship ingredients nor our products around the world; we believe in small business and love good food, farming and our local communities.
Following the strong support of the Chilli and Lime Fiesta, don't be surprised if there's another similar event on the cards for Riverfeast
"It was such a success that we are planning another like a Mexican night using our chillies, herbs and avocados," Mr De Paoli said.
New product makers
VALUE-adding is nothing new to either Bundy Limes or Austchilli.
While they hadn't tried doing a beer before, the Vickers family said there had been plenty of experimentation with their limes over the years for savoury and sweet foods plus drinks.
"I currently produce three different varieties of lime salt and lime salt and pepper, lime sugar, dried lime wheels, lime and mango chutney, lime biscuits as well as a couple of bathroom products, like bath bombs and foot scrub. I make all the products here on site," Mrs Vickers said.
Austchilli is also involved with the production of another local beverage, Kalki Moon Vodka with Chilli.
"It was also at the festival and great hit with patrons," Mr De Paoli said.
The three businesses involved in the beer have continued to let other ideas brew as well, but not everything can be revealed as yet.
Mrs Vickers said there were some other lime products in the works but they were "top secret".
"What I can tell you is that I’m pretty excited to launch it in the near future and I am working with another fantastic and well-known local grower and producer to create it," she said.
It was a similar air of mystery with Austchilli's next venture.
"There is another big one about to be launched in the food range but I cannot disclose until it is launched through major retailers later this year. Watch this space," Mr Da Paoli said.
For Baffle Creek Beer, the experimentation is not about to stop any time soon.
"We love experimenting with new flavours, and forgotten traditional recipes, and there are so many great beer styles and fascinating combinations, so we’ll certainly always have special releases from time to time. Stay tuned," Mrs Kangler said.
FIESTA is a 4.5 per cent alcohol content pale ale with a little zing.
It smells and tastes of chillies (roses, paprika, capsicum) and limes (tangy, fruity, tart, citrusy), without being hot or sour.
The brewers used matching fruity hops and yeast to complement the flavours.
It’s a refreshing, easy drinking beer full of exciting aromas and flavours, perfectly matched with spicy food, fish and seafood and Asian dishes.
With the first batch of Fiesta hitting tastebuds favourably, Mrs Kangler said a second batch was definitely on the cards.
- This story first appeared on Good Fruit & Vegetables.