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Celebrating St. Patty's Day with Hot Orange Beer

University of Mary Washington

A brewery in Fredericksburg will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in a special way – one that gives a nod to our southern neighbors.  Sandy Hausman reports on the spicy brew they have to offer.

The founders of the Maltese Brewing Company are firefighters with a passion for craft beer, and their business partner, Ray Parrish, is fond of spicy food.  He actually grows peppers called Carolina Reapers in his backyard.

“The Carolina Reaper chili is a very, very flavorful almost flora tasting chili,” he says.

But it’s very spicy. Still Parrish and his partners decided to use it in a new brew.

“We took a barrel of our pineapple IPA and dosed it with approximately 500 Carolina Reaper chilis to try to make the hottest beer in the world,”  Parrish recalls.

They named their new beer  Signal One.

Credit Ray Parrish
Maltese Brewery co-owner Ray Parrish toasts the newest product --  a brew made with super hot chili peppers.

“Signal One is a firefighting term for the first call for a hot fire," he explains. "Whoever gets signal one is the first responder to the fire.”

To certify their achievement, they asked a chemist at the University of Mary Washington to test the product.  Professor Sarah Smith says, anecdotally, it’s hot stuff.

“When you look at it it’s bright orange!  You can smell it through a mask.  It is spicy!”

And she’ll soon have data to prove it – a statistic that could put the Maltese Brewery in the Guiness Book of World Records.  In the meantime, they’re sponsoring a contest of their own. 

“I pour you a 10-ounce glass of this stuff," says Parrish. "You have ten minutes to finish it, and then once that happens you have ten minutes of not eating or drinking or putting anything in your mouth.  If you can survive that then you get your name on the wall and you get a T-shirt that says I survived the Signal One Challenge.”

Credit University of Mary Washington
Chemistry Professor Sarah Smith and her student Valerie Ebenski analyze Signal One Beer.

So far, he says just 20 of the 400 people who’ve tried have succeeded.  Chemist Sarah Smith is not among them.

“I’m actually allergic to beer," she confesses.  "I have a wheat allergy, so I haven’t tried it."

Because there is no listing yet for hottest beer in the Guiness Book, she and Parrish are confident Signal One will win that honor. 

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief