8 Big Novelty Beers of the Dixie Cup

The Dixie Cup in Houston, Texas has long been noted as one of homebrewing’s most eccentric homebrew competitions. Organized by the Foam Rangers homebrew club, there’s always something offbeat and unusual. One cherished Dixie Cup tradition is honoring homebrewing pioneer and author Fred Eckhardt each year with a different theme to commemorate the event. Another tradition
that has been flourishing is the annual novelty beer category, which is almost inevitably a high-gravity beer with an unusual ingredient. Frequently, the style is tied to the event theme, but not always. One year the style was malt liquor and the entries were submitted in 40 oz. bottles, wrapped in brown paper bags. The sight of BJCP master judges passing around a bottle of homebrewed malt liquor out by the hotel dumpsters has become a classic memory. The Dixie Cup novelty category forces homebrewers to think “out of the carboy” and thrives on account of their boundless creativity.

Dixie Cup 1999 — The Fred Files

Homebrewers who attended the 1999 Dixie Cup — The Fred Files — know that “The beer is out there.” The category description for the 1999 novelty category was also out there: Big and Stupid. The style guideline described the style as: “Dedicated to those big and stupid beers that only a homebrewer could hope to love. Use your imagination, but it must be drinkable.” The brewer had to specify the reasons why the beer should be considered stupid. As we found out, “stupid” is a relative term.

Panther Pee
By Donald Sadja
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)

O.G. 1.105 F.G. 1.035
IBU = 90+ SRM = 44 ABV = 9.0%

Don Sadja relates how he came up with his stupid idea. “I thought: Why not use a great imperial stout recipe as a base and do something stupid like add raspberry flavoring to it.” Apparently not so stupid, as it produced a very drinkable beer!


  • 12.0 lbs. (5.4 kg) dark malt extract
  • 0.5 lb. (0.22 kg) roasted barley
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) flaked barley
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) black patent malt
  • 0.75 lb. (0.34 kg) Special B malt
  • 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) oatmeal
  • 36 AAU Nugget hops (75 minutes)
  • (3 oz./85 g of 12% alpha acids)
  • 1 oz. (28 g) Fuggles hops (15 minutes)
  • 1 oz. (28 g) Cascade hops (15 minutes)
  • Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast
  • (1/2 gallon starter for primary fermentation)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (for priming)
  • 4 oz. (188 mL) apple juice (for priming)
  • 4 oz. (188 mL) raspberry flavoring
  • 1/2 package White Labs WLP013
  • (London Ale) yeast (conditioning)

Step by Step

Steep grains at 155 °F (68 °C) for 30 minutes. Add the dark malt extract and water to make 5.5 gallons (21 L). Boil for 75 minutes, adding hops at the times indicated in the ingredient list. At bottling, add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 oz. apple juice, 1/2 pkg. London Ale yeast and a 4 oz. bottle of raspberry flavoring. Condition for nine months at 68 °F (20 °C), then enjoy.

24 Carrot I.P.A.
by Bev Blackwood
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.074 F.G. 1.020
IBU = 60 SRM = 22 ABV = 7.0%

While Don’s beer may not seem very stupid, the third place beer — my own 24 Carrot IPA — was exactly that. An India Pale Ale brewed with a truly stupid ingredient, 24 pureed organic carrots. The beer retained the vegetal character of the carrots and seemed a little more orange than usual. However, the defining moment came during judging when Randy Mosher, noted on his judging sheet that the beer was “dry carroted” and defined the mouthfeel as “crunchy.” In truth, the carrot stick included in the contest bottle picked up a lot of the hop character of the I.P.A. and proved to be quite tasty, as was the beer!


  • 12.25 lbs. (5.6 kg) Maris Otter malt
  • 1.75 lbs. (0.8 kg) medium British crystal malt
  • 1.25 lbs. (0.57) Belgian Caravienne malt
  • 3.5 lbs. (1.6 kg) organic carrots
  • 15 AAU First Gold hops (first wort hops)
  • (2.0 oz./57 g at 7.5% alpha acids)
  • 15 AAU Challenger hops (10 mins)
  • (1.5 oz./43 g at 7.5% alpha acids)
  • 1.0 oz Cascades hops (0 minutes)
  • 1.0 oz. Cascades (dry hop)
  • White Labs WLP013 (London Ale) yeast

Step by Step

Single infusion mash grains for 1 hour at 158 °F (70 °C). Boil wort for 60 minutes. Add peeled and pureed organic carrots (appoximately 24 of them, depending on the size) to primary fermenter.

Dixie Cup 2000 — The Dixie Cup Sells Out

In 2000, the Dixie Cup “sold out” accepting sponsorships, posting banners and slapping Fred’s face on the17 dollar bill. It also brought the now common “Imperial Beer” category to the Dixie Cup. Inspired by John Maier of Rogue Ale’s I2PA and Imperial Pilsner, as well as Full Sail’s Imperial Porter, we encouraged our brewers to “kick it up a notch.” The guideline stated: “Imperial Beers are not for the weak-willed. These beers go to 11. Any recognized BJCP beer style may be brewed, but it must meet the Czar’s standards. Specifically, the beer must exceed the maximum original gravity specified by the BJCP style guidelines by no less than 20 gravity points.”

Imperial Beers were judged based on how well the increased gravity was handled while still conforming to the style guidelines of the base beer. Interestingly, there’s a new competition that has taken this concept and run with it. It’s the “X-Beer” competition, but it goes both ways, 20 points high and 20 points low on guideline.

Imperial Stormtrooper IPA
by Jimmy Paige
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.090 F.G. 1.024
IBU = 82 SRM = 20 ABV = 8.5%

Foam Ranger Jimmy Paige took first place that year with an Imperial IPA which he claims was more “like an American barleywine at the time it was judged.” Age when judged at 2000 Dixie Cup was approximately 7 months old. Jimmy claims he named the beer Imperial Stormtrooper because “that was the only thing I could think of with the word ‘Imperial’ in it.”


  • 7.0 lbs. (3.2 kg) English Maris Otter two-row pale malt
  • 7.0 lbs. (3.2 kg) Schreier domestic pale two-row malt
  • 2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) home-roasted amber malt (using Randy Mosher’s recipe for roasting)
  • (The brewer can substitute Victory malt or Belgian aromatic malt for this ingredient.)
  • 1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) light Munich malt
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) domestic wheat malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) Special B malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) Carastan malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) CaraPils malt
  • 7.2 AAU Chinook hops (first wort hopping)
  • (0.6 oz./17 g of 12% alpha acids)
  • 6 AAU Nugget hops (first wort hopping)
  • (0.5 oz./14 g of 12% alpha acids)
  • 10.4 AAU Columbus hops (30 minutes)
  • (0.8 oz./23 g of 13% alpha acids)
  • 4.5 AAU Centennial hops (20 minutes)
  • (0.5 oz./14 g of 9% alpha acids)
  • 3.0 AAU Nugget hops (20 minutes)
  • (0.25 oz./7 g of 12% alpha acids)
  • 10 AAU East Kent Goldings hops (15 minutes)
  • (2.0 oz./57 g of 5% alpha acids)
  • 0.68 AAU English Fuggle hops (15 minutes)
  • (0.15 oz./4.3 g of 4.5% alpha acids)
  • 0.25 oz. Nugget hops (10 minutes)
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial hops (dry hop at 7 days)
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial hops (dry hop at 17 days)
  • Wyeast 1968 (London ESB Ale) yeast

Step by Step

Single infusion mash for 60 minutes at 153 °F (67 °C) with 6.0 gallons (23 L) of water treated with 1/2 teaspoon each gypsum and calcium chloride. Bottled at 31 days and primed with 2.0 oz. (56 g) dried malt extract

Texas Imperial Brown
by David Cato
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.080 F.G. 1.021
IBU = 90+ SRM = 37 ABV = 7.6%

American Brown ale was once referred to as Texas Brown ale, since the Dixie Cup was the first competition to recognize the style. In honor of that, David Cato brewed his Texas Imperial Brown Ale, which is more or less a brown I.P.A. It’s a richly flavored beer and very hoppy, appropriately enough with Amarillo hops. It took 2nd place in the Imperial Beer category.


  • 13.5 lbs. (6.1 kg) Maris Otter
  • 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) aromatic malt
  • 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) biscuit malt
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) British medium crystal malt
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
  • 34 AAU Amarillo hops (60 minutes)
  • (4.0 oz./113 g of 8.5% alpha acids)
  • 17 AAU Amarillo hops (30 minute)
  • (2.0 oz./57 g of 8.5% alpha acids)
  • 2.5 oz. (71 g) Amarillo hop (10 mins)
  • 2.0 oz. (57 g) Amarillo hops (0 mins)
  • 3.0 oz. (85 g) Cascade hops (dry hop for 3 weeks)
  • Wyeast 1272 (American Ale II) yeast

Step by Step

David recirculated at 154 °F (68 °C) for 1 hour with his RIMS system. David wasn’t overly happy with his brew day. “My efficiency sucked that day, but I did get close to 1 IBU per gravity point, which should count for something.” So should a second place finish at the Dixie Cup!

Dixie Cup 2001 — La Copa Dixie

La Copa Dixie, the 2001 Mexican themed Dixie Cup, featured a classic style (Herb, Spice & Vegetable) “tweaked” for the usual high gravity requirements. Add chili peppers and alcohol and you have: La Cerveza que Quema Dos Veces (AKA: The beer that burns twice) Starting with enough alcohol to warm any palate, beers entered in this category required an original gravity of not less than 1.070. Add to that a healthy dose of chili peppers, enough to make the eyes water, (but still remain in balance) and you have the fabled Beer That Burns Twice. If it burned three times, we didn’t want to be around for it! It should be noted that the beers were judged on the basis of overall balance and “burn.” Drinkability was encouraged, but not mandatory!

Chili Head Fred
by the Austin ZEALOTS
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.099 F.G. 1.025
IBU = 78 SRM = 14 ABV = 9.6%

Marc Martin headed a group of Austin ZEALOTS who were out to make a name for themselves at the Dixie Cup. Marc, the Primary Fermenter, Corey Martin the Secondary Fermenter, and another key member, Keith Bradley, decided they should honor the ever present Fred Eckhart by brewing a clone of that famous namesake barley wine made by Hair-of-The-Dog brewing, “Fred.” After a lengthy (12 hour) brew day and six months of aging, two quarts were tapped from the keg and sliced Jalepeno, Serrano and Habanero peppers were steeped in the cold brew. Spoonfuls were tasted at 8–12 hour intervals until just the right level of heat was present to mingle with the malt and hops. Balance with a lingering heat was the goal and it was obviously achieved, since it took home first place!


  • 14.6 lbs. (6.6 kg) Moravian two-row pale malt
  • 2.1 lbs. (0.9 kg) Belgian aromatic malt
  • 1.7 lbs. (0.77 kg) flaked rye
  • 1.25 lbs. (0.57 kg) Belgian candi sugar
  • 3.8 AAU Progress hops (120 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 6% alpha acids)
  • 4.7 AAU First Gold hops (120 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 7.5% alpha acids)
  • 4.7 AAU Brewers Gold hops (120 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 7.5% alpha acids)
  • 2.5 AAU Liberty hops (120 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 4% alpha acids)
  • 2.8 AAU Fuggles hops (30 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 4.5% alpha acids)
  • 5.3 AAU Amarillo hops (30 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 8.5% alpha acids)
  • 5.0 AAU Northern Brewer hops (30 mins)
  • (0.63 oz./18 g of 8% alpha acids)
  • 0.63 oz. (18 g) Mount Hood hops (10 mins)
  • 0.63 oz. (18 g) Saaz hops (10 mins)
  • 0.63 oz. (18 g) Styrian Goldings hops (10 mins)
  • 0.63 oz. (18 g) Chinook hops (10 mins)
  • Wyeast 1728 (Scottish Ale) yeast (1000 mL starter)

Step by Step

Single infusion mash for 1 hour at 156 °F (69 °C). Boil for 150 minutes. Fermentation at 68 °F (20 °C) for 10 days. Rack to secondary and condition for seven days at 65 °F (18 °C). Perform a diacetyl rest for 2 days at 75 °F (24 °C). After six months of conditioning, use 2 qts. (1.9 L) of beer for the pepper infusion. De-seed and slice the following: 1 large Jalepeno, 2 small Serranos and 2 medium Habaneros. (Use 10 times as many peppers for full 5-gallon (19-L) batch.) Place peppers in a 2-quart (1.9-L) pitcher with beer, cover with foil and place in refrigerator. Taste a tablespoonful at eight hours and then every 4–6 hours thereafter until the desired level of heat is achieved. Transfer the beer off the peppers to a 2-L soda bottle and carbonate with 15 pounds carbon dioxide.

Wee Hottie
by Kuyler Doyle
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.073 F.G. 1.025
IBU = 20 SRM = 25 ABV = 6.2%

Kuyler Doyle’s “Wee Hottie” took second place behind the ZEALOTS entry. Kuyler’s choice was dictated by the style’s primary ingredient. “I thought the malty sweet character of a Scotch ale would pair well with spicy heat from chiles,” states Kuyler. “Since Scotch ales are allowed to have a smoky flavor, I went with that as the link. I added some rauch malt to the blend and used smoky chipotle peppers for the heat and flavor.” Like the ZEALOTS, Kuyler did a spinoff of a 5- gallon (19-L) batch. The recipe below has the peppers scaled up for full a 5-gallon (19-L) batch.


  • 11.5 lbs. (5.2 kg) Maris Otter malt
  • 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) smoked rauch malt
  • 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) British CaraPils malt
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Belgian aromatic
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Belgian CaraVienne
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) British medium crystal malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) British chocolate malt
  • 5.5 AAU U.K. Target hops (75 mins)
  • (0.5 oz./14 g of 11% alpha acids)
  • 1.1 AAU U.K. Fuggles hops (15 mins)
  • (0.25 oz./14 g of 4.5% alpha acids)
  • 0.25 oz. U.K. Fuggles hops (0 mins)
  • Wyeast 1728 (Scottish Ale) yeast

Step by Step

Single infusion mash at 158 °F (70 °C) for 90 minutes. Add to the secondary: 40 chipotle peppers and 40 serrano peppers, seeded and sliced.

Dixie Cup 2002 —Night of the Living Fred

2002’s Dixie Cup was “The Night of the Living Fred,” an all around Halloween treat for everyone concerned. Naturally, the only thing needed was an appropriate novelty beer. Enter the Monster Mash! The beer required an original gravity of at least 1.070 (a monster wouldn’t want it any other way). The next step was to add your favorite Halloween candy to the beer. The main requirement was that the candy had to be a recognizable part of the flavor component and had to complement the beer.

Whopper Stout
by Kuyler Doyle
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.063 (without added malted milk)
F.G. 1.022
IBU = 55 SRM = 62 ABV = 5.3%

Foam Ranger Kuyler Doyle was successful again with his “Whopper Stout.” Inspired by that year’s “Fred Tasting” pairing of stouts and chocolate, Kuyler “Figured that malted milk and chocolate from Whoppers in a beer would be a good thing.” However, he was confronted with the issue of the cheap, oily chocolate used in the actual candy. “I substituted Carnation’s malted milk for the Whopper flavor,” states Kuyler. “I used a blend of regular and chocolate flavor malted milk.”

According to Kuyler, much of the malted milk settles on the bottom, but the flavor comes out in the finished product. Doyle credits part of the win to his pairing the beer with Whoppers during judging. (Entrants were encouraged to include samples with the entry.) The malted milk additions are an estimate, since the beer submitted was a “spin-off” of a larger batch.


  • 8.75 lbs. (4.0 kg) pale malt
  • 1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) dark Munich malt
  • 0.75 lb. (0.34 kg) British medium crystal malt
  • 0.75 lb. (0.34 kg) British dark crystal malt
  • 0.75 lb. (0.34 kg) chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Belgian aromatic malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) British black patent malt
  • 5.0 AAU Willamette hops (first wort hops)
  • (1.0 oz./28 g of 5% alpha acids)
  • 10 AAU Cascades hops (first wort hops)
  • (2.0 oz./57 g of 5% alpha acids)
  • White Labs WLP001 (California Ale) yeast

Step by Step

Mash at 156 °F (69 °C) for 75 minutes with 0.5 teaspoons of gypsum added to mash water. Add a combination of Carnation
malted milk flavor (regular and chocolate) to the secondary fermenter until the desired flavor balance is achieved.

Red Hot Blond
by Steve Hacker
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

O.G. 1.088 F.G. 1.020
IBU = 15 SRM = 8 ABV = 8.8%

The second place winner took a completely opposite tack, with a blonde ale enlivened by a healthy addition of Red Hots, the bright red cinnamon candy. Again, the actual entry was a spinoff of a 5-gallon batch, so the amounts have been extrapolated.


  • 16.25 lbs. (7.4 kg) Weyermann German Pilsner two-row malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) Dingemans Belgian aromatic malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) DeWolf Belgian biscuit malt
  • 0.25 lb. (0.11 kg) Weyermann German Vienna malt
  • 0.5 lb (0.23 kg) clear Belgian candi sugar (60 mins)
  • 5.0 AAU Styrian Goldings hops (60 mins)
  • (1.0 oz/28 g of 5% alpha acids)
  • 2.5 AAU Styrian Goldings hops (15 mins)
  • (0.5 oz/14 g of 5% alpha acids)
  • Wyeast 1214 (Belgian Abbey) yeast

Step by Step

Mash at 145 °F (63 °C) for 90 minutes. Decoct approximately 2 gallons to 180 °F (82 °C) for first temperature increase. Twenty minutes later decoct 2 gallons of mash to 200 °F (93 °C) to step mash up to 155 °F (68 °C). 1 tsp. gypsum added to reverse osmosis water. 60 minute boil. Dissolve approximately 45 ounces of Red Hots in 40 ounces of water at 165 °F (74 °C). Add to wort and ferment.


Issue: December 2003