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Monday, April 8, 2013

Spiteful Brewing's Burning Bridges

  • Style: Brown Ale
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Season: Rotating (I purchased my Batch 10 in March 2013)
  • Ease to locate: Chicagoland only, so far. Try your local bottle shop or Binny's (or trading with somebody.)   Better yet, take a trip to the Windy City!  We're lovely (if not rainy, windy and cold) in the Spring. But we have beer, so it's all good.
  • Color: Dark oaky brown
  • Head: Two & a half fingers with virtually no lacing.  Settles quickly, but doesn't disappear
  • Aroma: Not much of a nose.  A bit malty with caramel, chocolate and roasted notes.  A slight hop bitterness as well.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium. Minimal carbonation, yet smooth and a bit dry.
  • Finish: Moderate with a grapefruit presence on the tail
  • Food friendly: Not as much as the average brown ale.  Try with grilled meats or sweet sausage.  Try it with nutty cheese like Colby or Asiago.

I love learning the story behind brewery names. Sometimes they're funny (Clown Shoes Beer)  Sometimes they set a location (New Glarus or Great Lakes.)  But the best names give you a bit of insight into the brewers themselves.  Spiteful Brewing is a small (how small?  Let's just say that I'm pretty sure that their dog is their delivery driver), relatively new Chicago brewery started by two childhood friends.  The fact that they named their brewery after the "spiteful" childhood hockey incident tells me a lot about them.  These are two guys who not only have a sense of humor, but have a long history together.   We aren't going to have another 5 Rabbits incident on our hands here.  But if we do, at least this will involve hockey sticks and not witchcraft.  Fingers crossed.

                                                                This is basically what I think happened when the Spiteful crew met for the first time.  Hair and all.

I've been meaning to try a Spiteful beer for a few months now, but have kept getting distracted by other offerings on the shelf (oooo look, something shiny!  Squirrel!)  I finally got around to grabbing a bomber of their brown ale, Burning Bridges,  last week.   Every time I looked at the bomber, I got the uneasy feeling that the flame on the label was glaring at me.  With this in mind, I cracked open the bottle ASAP before any more nasty shiny squirrels got in my way.

Looks like a porter, drinks like a brown ale.  Sort of.

My Burning Bridges poured a dark, oaky brown color.  It looked rich and inviting, if not a bit dark for your average brown ale.  A two and a half finger head initially formed, but settled quickly to about half a finger of beige foam.   There wasn't much in the way of lacing, but a spongy layer of foam did stick around for most of the drink.  I couldn't detect much in the way of aroma at first.  It was a bit sweet with notes of malts and chocolate on the nose.  As it warmed a little, I could detect some roasted elements and a smidge of nuttiness as well.  The taste, however, didn't disappoint.  As simple as the nose was, the flavor profile more than made up in complexity.  Notes of yeasty bread  and almost crunchy toast hit me first.  There was a strong bitter hops presence as well.  The hops seemed to be strongest with notes of citrus, but I could sense some pine qualities working back up too.  The sweetness that I smelled on the nose emerged as elements of caramel and chocolate, helping to nicely balance the other flavors.  The mouthfeel was medium with very soft carbonation.  It was smooth and bit dry.  The finish was also medium, with a note of grapefruit on the tail end.

Would a little lacing kill you guys? 
I would pair Spiteful Brewing's Burning Bridges with foods that would benefit from a good mixture of bitter and sweet.  As the weather warms, try it with freshly ground hamburgers on the grill.  I also think this would make an excellent companion to barbeque pork or chicken    Or serve Burning Bridges with this one pot dish of Italian sausage, potatoes and chicken.

No lacing, but this kept me company for most of the pint

The thing that I like best about brown ales is it's ability to play well with others.  If anything has proven American Brown Ale's innate diversity as a style to me it's been comparing Spiteful Brewing's Burning Bridges and last post's review of   Avery Brewing's Ellie's Brown Ale.   Avery's brown ale was sweet and light.  Spiteful's brown ale was rich and hoppy.  I didn't expect much from either and was surprised by how much I like each of them, although for very different reasons.   I'm looking forward to trying another offering from Spiteful Brewing.  Even if their label with the dead teddy bear freaks me out a bit.