Ring of Fire

I got to try a new beer AND a new beer-style for me tonight, awesome!

Ring of Fire

This is the Ring of Fire Porter from Iron Hill Brewery. I bought three bottles yesterday, one for myself soon, one for myself later, and one for a trade. I also happened to be at Iron Hill again today and bought another bottle to split with the people I was with, Todd, Carrie, and Karen. The bottle is 13oz and 9 dollars, so to split between four you don’t get much to sample but at a good price.

This is what the bottle has to say: Ring of Fire Porter  – Aged and Finished in a Tabasco Pepper Mash Oak Barrel – Ring of Fire Porter: Brewed naturally with the finest malted barley, hops, and yeast. Our house porter, aged and finished in a Tabasco pepper mash oak barrel, imparting a hot pepper character which marries with the roasty and subtle chocolate notes of the porter. – OG: 1.057, Color: 23L, IBU: 37, ALC: 5.4%.

Rumor has it that this was originally a lighter beer, Iron Hill’s Light Lager perhaps, aged in the Tabasco barrel. Problem was there wasn’t enough to the Light Lager and basically they made a Tabasco beer, for real. Again I believe this to be the West Chester location, supposedly Chris figured that they needed a bigger beer with more body and flavor to help cut and carry the Tabasco. They chose their house porter, the Pig Iron Porter, which was a great choice. They really built a great “hot chocolate” one off.

I thought the beer had a great Tabasco burn characteristic commingled with the roast and chocolate of the porter, but with neither being overbearing. Both the Tabasco-type heat/flavor and the porter-like body/chocolateliness built a strong beer. The heat of the Tabasco did build a little in the back of the throat and made sure its presence was known, but I never felt like i needed to cool it down or rinse it out. Very excellent attempt at an ambitious idea. If it wasn’t so expensive, I would love to marinate some London Broil in this to make an excellent BBQ/grilling addition.

6 Responses to “Ring of Fire”

  1. Chris LaPierre Says:


    Just wanted to clear up details on the Ring of Fire. The hot base for this beer was Lodestone Lager aged in a Tobasco barrel. All along we knew that we were going to have to blend it into something. The beer that came out of the barrel was straight up undrinkable unless of course you’re the kind of person that likes to show how tough you are by eating really hot stuff! We chose the Lodestone Lager because it was the most flavor and color neutral all malt beer we do and would therefore be the best beer to blend into another beer. When it came time to blend we worked with a number of styles. The two we thought worked best were APA (for the same reasons hoppy beers go really well with spicy Thai and Mexican food) and Porter. In the end we thought that the roastiness and malt body of the porter worked best with the heat. What we also found out later was that the pepper really brings out flavors that are already in the porter most noticeably the chocolate notes.

    By the way If you’d like to try that marinate idea I’d be glad to put a couple of bottles aside for you to pick up. Just let me know soon because its going quickly!



  2. Freyguy Says:

    Very cool idea Chris. I’ll have to swing by this weekend to give it a shot. I just listened to the brew network podcast of you, so it doesn’t suprise me to see you try some crazy mixing stuff. It’s stuff like that that keeps me interested in breweries, so keep up the good work!

  3. John Says:

    CBS) Champagne taste on a beer budget?

    Think again!

    Just like the cost of food, some beer prices are skyrocketing, and you can expect to pay more for your favorite brew this summer, reports The Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen.

    “It’s never been this bad,” observed Eric Ottaway, general manager of the Brooklyn Brewery, which makes several craft beers, a sector of the beer industry that’s been hardest-hit.

    “I’ve had to raise prices,” Ottaway says. “We took the biggest increase we’ve ever taken here at the company this year.”

    Brooklyn Brewery has raised prices 10 percent — translating into $1 more a six-pack.

    “In the beer world,” he explains, “that’s a gigantic increase. Normally, we raise prices three-four percent, but a dollar is a gargantuan amount.”

    The price of beer is going up because it now costs more to make it, for several reasons, Koeppen points out.

    First, high gas prices make it more expensive to haul beer.

    And there’s a shortage of beer’s main ingredients. The cost of malted barley is has doubled, and hops have more than hopped — they’ve skyrocketed some 500 percent.

    “In 2008,” Ottaway says, “it will cost us about a million more dollars to make the same beer we made in 2007.”

    Even large breweries, such as Anheuser Busch, are feeling the pinch. The maker of Budweiser says the increased cost of its ingredients has lead to price hikes on its beers.

    “The situation with ingredients is not going to abate anytime soon,” predicts Benj Steinman, publisher of a beer industry newsletter, Beer Marketer’s Insights. “It will continue to exert pressure on pricing for the foreseeable future.”

    Steinman says, in some markets, such as Florida, California and Arizona, consumers are changing their drinking habits: “Some people are switching to lower-priced brands, because of the economy.”

    But, says Koeppen, even with price increases, consumers continue to throw them back.

    “We’re actually very happy that, despite all the economic turmoil, people are still buying beer. We say that, when you’re happy you drink and when you’re sad you drink, but either way, you’re still drinking!”

    The Labor Department says the average price of beer has gone up about four percent — that’s in stores and in bars and restaurants, as well.

    The big breweries are weathering the storm, Koeppen adds, but “the little guys,” that can’t get the ingredients, are having a tougher go of it, and, “The some of big guys are actually releasing some of their supplies of hops and malted barley to help them survive.”

    Imported beers, by and large, hasn’t seen the price hits that domestic suds have, due to the dollar’s exchange rates.

    © MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  4. Jim L Says:

    I was at the Iron Hill in Montgomeryville this past weekend and asked about the Ring of Fire. I wanted to buy a couple bottles to take home. My server said that they had several bottles explode on them and eneded up trashing all of it as many others looked like they were going to go as well. Was that really true? Was it just the batches brewed at Montgomeryville? Any chance of shipping it from other locations to Montgomeryville?

  5. Freyguy Says:

    I bought two bottles from the Wilmington location, and had one this past weekend when camping. At first, I noticed a good bit of carbonation…..big bubbles, like it was force carbed too much or something. I had to wait a bit for it to die down before I could pour it all in the pint glass. The carbonation gave the beer a bit of a “sting” at first, but after letting it sit for a bit, the sting was gone and I could enjoy the beer for what it was. A terriffic beer with slight laces of of tabasco. Very well done in my opinion, and went well with the smoked chicken I was having. Kudos on the beer, but I’m interested in the carbonation/exploding as well. I have another bottle at home that I might have to drink quick so I don’t have to clean the whole kitchen!!

  6. Brian Says:

    Jim – That’s ashame to hear about the bottle bombs, I suppose over carbonation from bottle-conditioning. My guess is that since this was such a fast mover that they’re not going to replace the ones at Montgomeryville, but you may be able to call the other locations and hunt some down.

    Brian (Freyguy) – Mine was definetly highly carbonated but not bad. I have another in the basement so I am assuming if there is a bottle-conditioning problem that will be the coolest / best place to keep it.

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