At the Mercury's third annual Chili Jamboree this Sunday (White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th), there will be 11 chefs slinging not-so-classic bowls of chili. It ain’t about chocolate or butternut squash or peanut butter or tamarind paste as a hidden, secret ingredient—it’s about how many different dishes can they prepare and still loosely get away with calling them chili.

When it comes to chiles in beer, the same is often true; the more cacao nibs or cinnamon or apricots you use, the more drinkable the overall beer is. But not always.

(For clarification, we’re spelling the pepper as "chile" and the stew-like manna "chili.")

Throughout the Southwest it's expected you'll find a high degree of good chile-pepper beers. For instance, if you’re ever in Fort Collins, Colorado, try Coopersmith’s Sigda Ale, made with serranos and Anaheim chiles. (But if you’re in Boulder, though, that Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah made with ghost peppers is a hot, hot, hot mess.) But Oregon brewers have made chile-forward beers their own thing, too. And yes, they all go great with chili.

The key is in the spice, not the heat. It’s bad enough that some people go hunting for the highest IBUs (international bitterness units). We don’t need beers vying for hottest on the Scoville chart, too.

At the top of the game is Agrarian, a Eugene brewery that doesn’t stick with one single chile beer—they make a new chile beer every season. On owner Ben Tilley’s family farm, they grow 25 varieties of chiles. So not only is a new pepper picked, but the treatment varies, too. One season they might make an amber ale with dried poblano, and the next a brown ale with smoked espelettes or a saison with fire-roasted chiles.

Here in Portland, Upright releases a limited batch of Fatali Four each year, with the next batch set for release in December or January. Built on their flagship sessionable Four saison, the beer is aged in casks, and then homegrown Fatali peppers from local green thumb/homebrewer Ritch Marvin are added, creating a beer that’s a bit tart and a bit spicy. Perhaps it's better suited for a bowl of hot-and-sour soup, which’d also hit the spot right now.

Down in Albany, Calapooia Brewing's second-bestselling brand is Chili Beer (spelled with an "I" as is common among New Mexico green chili enthusiasts), available on most Fred Meyer shelves and beyond. Calapooia tosses in whole jalapeño, serrano, Anaheim, and habanero peppers to the tune of 10 pounds per barrel. It’s possibly the hottest chile beer that remains drinkable. Speaking of which, hopmeisters Boneyard from Bend have been known to step into the ring with Fuego Rojo, their regular Diablo Rojo PNW-style red ale where you can really #feeltheburn. And out along the eastern border, Barley Brown’s in Baker City always has at least one pepper beer on, usually Hot Blonde made with fresh jalapeños.

As with virtually, all beer styles, some folks love 'em. Others hate 'em. But with brisk, fall weather finally here and bowls of chili at the ready, it’s good to find sources of internal heat beyond fleece and flannel.