I have been working part time at a local brewery here in Columbus called Land Grant. Being still new to the area, it has been a great way to meet new people, as well as express my love for the craft beer industry in a new way. I have already been inspired by my work there in many different ways, one being coming up with new recipes with our beer! The day we were canning Sweater Vibes, a cinnamon apple ale, all I could smell was the sweet cinnamon sent in the air and I dreamt up this chili that I was excited to finally make.
This chili was originally going to be for a city wide brewery chili cookoff, but unfortunately the event was canceled. I was determined to make the chili anyways. I didn’t take a ton of step photos today, but this first one here is important.
The base of the chili is 3 cans of Sweater Vibes, and some dried chiles. I let the chipotle and arbol chiles steep in the beer for about an hour until they got nice and tender, then I blended them all up and used it as the main liquid for the chili. This gave the whole stew a great backbone of deep complex flavors.
The next sort of secret ingredient is lamb. I used mostly ground beef, but adding a little lamb shoulder to the mix not only gives you little bites of shreddy meat, but also a richness that is hard to achieve with beef alone. And finally, a pinch of berbere seasoning to work together with the chili powder. This is an Ethiopian spice blend that adds an earthiness to the chili.
If you don’t live in Ohio, first of all, sorry to hear that, but more importantly, you probably can’t get your hands on a Sweater Vibes. (again, sorry to hear that) If you can find an apple ale, you can use that as the beer, and add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the spice blend.
Sweater Vibes Chili
- 3 Sweater Vibes Apple Cinnamon English Ales see note
- 3 dried chipotle chiles
- 5 dried arbol chiles
- 2 pounds ground beef 85% lean “chili grind” if available
- 1/2 pound lamb shoulder trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 onion diced
- 2 poblano chilis diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 28 oz can of diced tomato
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon berbere spice see note
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon clove
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablesppons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 14 ounce can small pink beans drained and rinsed
- Sour cream cilantro, and scallions for garnish
- Pour the beer into a sauce pan over medium heat. Break up the chipotle and arbol chiles with your hands into smaller pieces, removing most of the seeds and stem. Put a small frying pan over high heat and add the chiles. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Pour this mixture into the beer. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for a half hour.
- Put a large pot over high heat, or set a slow cooker to “saute” mode. Season the beef and lamb well with salt and pepper. In batches, brown the beef and lamb on all sides. Make sure you do this in smaller batches, not crowding the pan, to make sure to get some good browning. As each batch is done, remove to a large bowl, leaving the fat in the pot.
- Add the onions and poblanos to the pot with the fat when the meat is done. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minutes until softened and slightly brown on the edges. Add in the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add in the tomato, chili powder, berbere, cumin, paprika, oregano, bay leaves, coriander, clove, allspice, vinegar, sugar, and worcestershire. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Use a blender or hand blender to blend the beer-chile mixture until fairly smooth with no large pieces. Pour this mixture into the pot with everything else.
- Cover and cook at a light simmer for about 4 hours until the lamb is falling apart. Add in the beans and cook another half hour.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings to your personal taste. I added a pinch of allspice, oregano, and a little more vinegar and salt at this point.
- Serve with sour cream, cilantro, and scallions.