I don’t think it should come as any surprise to you that I am not a big fan of the mega-breweries. Not only do I not like the taste of light American lagers (if I am going to spend money on water, I prefer Aquafina) but they also represent corporate fat cats that would rather spend money on commercials, color-changing cans, or vortex bottles than actually putting out a decent product. That being said, I am loving the surge of home-brewers, nano-breweries, and craft/micro breweries sprouting up in Chicago and across the country. And I am fortunate to be friends with two young gents who are jumping into the burgeoning craft beer scene in Chicago.
Spiteful Brewing, currently located in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago, is the brainchild of Brad Shaffer and Jason Klein, childhood friends who met over a spiteful incident while playing hockey on a local pond. These guys are work-a-holics when it comes to beer; they sometimes brew up to three batches in a single day! The best part is that they turn each brew session into a party: the grill is out, the mash is going, and I am sitting in a lounge chair enjoying a Jessica’s Roasted Ale (they named it after me!) or an Instigator IPA. Their beer is quite good and just keeps getting better as they learn more about the brewing process on their Brew-Magic system.
The most recent brew session/party was on July 3, 2011 at the aptly named A Spiteful 3rd, Spiteful Brewing’s celebration of Independence Day. This was quite possibly the most fun I’ve ever had at a party (you know… besides my wedding…) and there was plenty of craft/home-brewed beer and food to be had. In addition, Brad and Jason brewed two beers during the party: a Pale Ale and a Double IPA. After initial greetings, I went up to the kegerator to see what beers were on draft. I started with one of Spiteful’s IPAs which had plenty of grapefruit on the nose. It was cloudy, musty and earthy with a nice, bitter finish. They had quite a few options in bottles, too. I had their Irish Red Ale which is quite tasty and surprisingly hoppy. This is one of the things I love about Spiteful’s beers. Regardless of style, whether an IPA or Brown Ale, there is never a lack of beautiful, hoppy yumminess.
This day was also special because None More Black IPA, the black IPA that the hubby and I brewed on our one-year anniversary, was a guest draft on the kegerator. It was our first all-grain, as well as our first 10 gallon batch utilizing Spiteful’s Brew-Magic brewing system, so it was a learning experience. We used 2-row American Pale as a base malt with some Dark German Munich and Vienna specialty malts for good measure. We added Carafa III in the last 15 minutes of the mash to gain the black color. We then hopped the crap out of it using Yakima Magnum, Tettnanger, and Willamette. The beer tasted good but it wasn’t quite what I was going for. The ABV was a tad low (5.5% and I was hoping for closer to 7%) and there was a lingering roasty aftertaste. But we are always our biggest critics, aren’t we? Many people at the party enjoyed it, even going so far as saying they liked that it was dark but didn’t taste “heavy” (a common misconception of dark beers).
But enough about me. I was very excited when Josh, brewer at nano-brewery Powell Brew House, stopped by. I had met him a couple weekends ago at the Brew Ha Ha and it was his tasty grapefruit IPA that I spoke of in a previous post. He brought me a bottle of his grapefruit IPA (my hero!) as well as four bottles of his Double IPA, which was also delicious. Honey was used as the residual sugar to up the ABV and Josh said it clocked in at around 10%. I don’t doubt it; it was some potent stuff. You could get a slight whiff of honey on the nose, as well as a slight lingering honey aftertaste. It wasn’t too sweet, though, thanks to use of Simcoe and other high alpha acid hops.
The party continued well into the night (and early morning) and I can’t wait until the next brew session. And if you “like” them on Facebook, you can stay updated on events and future brew sessions at Spiteful Brewing. If you’ve never brewed before, or just interested in learning more about beer and Spiteful’s setup, Jason and Brad are great about walking newbies through the process. See?! Beer is educational! DRINK LOCAL!