I suppose I should not talk only about the law of beer on the law.of.beer. The beer of beer is worth talking about, too.
The following is Stone’s official description of Crime: “Crime is Lukcy Basartd Ale (a blend of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard Ale and OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale) brewed with freshly harvested peppers and aged in bourbon barrels. Like a criminal act, this capsicum-laced temptation—brewed with jalapeños and black nagas, to name but a few—provides entrée into the seedy underbelly of Stone’s pepper-induced purgatory.”
The first chili beer I tried was Rogue’s Chipotle, many years back. I recall enjoying the subtle, building warmth and light smokiness. Since then, I have had several more. I recently enjoyed sipping a glass of habenero stout by Aztec in Vista, CA (San Diego). The heat level was notably more aggressive than a restrained use of chili as in Rogue’s Chipotle Ale. Yet, with the robust qualities of the stout to accompany it, it worked well.
I have not yet tried the Punishment, which I hear is quite searing. Crime, though, impressively dabbles with extremity while achieving elegance. A strong whiff of chili, wood, and smoke comes off the nose. Stings the nostrils a bit. But the aroma of chili is rich and fresh–as though whole chilies were floating there in the bottle. A drink reveals oak, mild whiskey notes, and poignant heat. Not a subtle, building warmth but immediate sensation. After a moment of surprise, the heat level was actually pleasurable and remained so. It allowed a full appreciation of the true accomplishment of the beer: the nuanced fruit/aromatic flavor of the chinense family of chili peppers (the nagas in this case, related to habaneros). It can be hard to incorporate high-heat chilies in a dish so that the flavor comes through, while keeping the heat level tolerable. Here, it was done with finesse . . . in a beverage.
Unless you really cannot tolerate heat, in my opinion this beer is a must-try.