I tried my first chili beer a few years ago and absolutely hated it. It just tasted...wrong. I don't remember which one it was, but I DO remember it tasting like someone mixed a beer with dirt and hot sauce. Then almost two years ago, Ballast Point introduced two chili versions of their Sculpin IPA- Habanero and Ghost Chili. I wasn't feeling chili beers at the time, but I had just tried a ghost pepper hot sauce (which I loved, but which also almost destroyed me) and I had to know what a ghost pepper beer would taste like.
Ballast released both chili versions of Sculpin on the same day, so I showed up at the tasting room and went straight for the ghost pepper one. And it sucked. The brewers were afraid of someone dying in their tasting room (or something along those lines), so they barely added any of the pepper to the beer. The result was a beer that tasted like Sculpin gone horribly wrong. Disappointed, I tried the habanero version and it was... fantastic! To this day, it remains the best chili beer I've ever had. But that day left me wondering something: Could a ghost pepper beer be pulled off? I finally got the chance to try one last week- the aptly named Ghost Face Killah.
Ghost Face Killah pours a deep and murky apple cider looking color with a fizzy head that looks better suited to a tonic water than a beer. The aroma is deep and smoky and laced with a good amount of heat. I didn't really pick up much "beer" aroma in there, but it almost smelled more like a freshly prepared chipotle salsa.
From what I've heard, this beer is widely known as the hottest beer in production, so it surprised me when I took my first sip and it tasted sweet. Instead of a mouth blistering blast of heat, I was met with a honey-like sweetness and a lot of smooth grainy flavors. Then, right as I started to think that the heat wasn't coming, Ghost Face Killah brought hell. A slow, smoky heat began to build on the tip of my tongue and then spread all over my mouth, getting hotter and hotter. As another reviewer put it, this beer provides a "slow destruction of your taste buds." Don't get me wrong, this beer isn't as hot as if you were to eat an actual ghost pepper. But as far as beer goes, this is freaking toasty. If you can't take the heat, don't mess with Ghost Face Killah.
Final Grade: B
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 128