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Monday, August 5, 2013

Spiteful Brewing's Mrs. O'Leary's Chocolate Mlk Stout

  • Style: Milk Stout
  • ABV: 7%
  • Ease to locate: Spiteful is a new brewery (my batch was #27) who still deliver some of their beers by bicycle.  So lets just say Chicagoland.  Here's a link to their twitter page, but beer menu might be easier.  I noticed that they restocked the shop where I bought their last bottle.  I feel better now.
  • Color: Dark blackish brown.  Thick and dense.
  • Head: 1 finger dark tan head, slowly settles to a uniform layer.  Soft lacing that leaves a shallow ring.
  • Aroma: Milk chocolate tempered by bitter roasted coco beans.  Some lactose sweetness and a slight hint of coffee.  
  • Mouthfeel: Slightly thick and lush, but with lots of carbonation to lighten the load.  Not as heavy as other milk stouts, which makes it nice for summer.
  • Finish: Medium in length with a bitter, earthy tail that lingers a bit.  Slightly dry.
  • Food friendly: Not really.  It's light so you could pair it with the typical sweet stout desert options such as berry forward cakes.  Since there is an earthiness to it, I suggest trying it with a bit of spicy barbeque.  Serve this with buttery cheese, such as Swiss.

Chicago is a city built on a foundation of myths and stories.  It's one of the many reasons that I love this city of mine.  I think that most people have heard of the Great Chicago Fire and the aftermath of it's uncontrollable destruction.  It's interesting to take a walk around downtown Chicago and see exactly where the fire burned.  Many are shocked to discover how small an area the city proper actually was back then.  If you ever find yourself on the corner of Randolph and Washington (pretty much where the Goodman Theater stands) check out the building sitting on the East corner.  That's one of the few buildings that survived the fire.  It's a McDonalds today.  Progress, huh?  The O'Leary barn where the possibly chorus-line inspired cow was once housed?  It's the Chicago Fire Academy training grounds today.  Somebody alert Altantis Morriset of the irony.  On October 8, 1871, the day just after the fire brought the city to it's knees, business men were on trains to New York to drum up support for rebuilding.  And rebuild we did.  That's something that isn't a myth about Chicago.  We have an innate, nose to the grind stone, not going to quit if its the last thing I do, cowboy-up sort of  attitude. 

                                                                                                        What really happened.  Moo.

Spiteful Brewing is another young Chicago brewery. One of the special things that I've noticed about Chicago breweries is their can do attitude.  Sure, nano breweries all over the states have hard workers.  I doubt that most of these places could survive if they didn't.  But Chicago brew workers seem to have a special sort of attribute that goes beyond nose to the grindstone.  While their nose is rubbing up against that spinning grain crushing wheel, they have their tongue planted firmly in cheek and a resourceful mind turning even quicker that that wheel.  And that's why we get to enjoy such a wide and ever changing variety of beers from places like Pipeworks, Beygle, DryHop and yes, Spiteful.  It's sort of like Chicago's weather when you stop and think about it.  If you don't like the weather right now, just wait a minute.  If you aren't blown away by what's in your glass, one of those guys will have another variety on the shelves before you can complain about your drain pour.
You know. I'm betting that poor Mrs. O'Leary probably could have used one or three of these after the little "incident"
My Mrs. O'Leary's Chocolate Milk Stout poured a dark, blackish brown.  It reminded me of the color of shoe polish that my dad used to smear on his wingtips when I was a kid.  It was rather dense and thick looking.  The one finger, mocha colored, spongy head slowly settled to a uniformly shallow film for most of the drink.  Soft, styrofoam like lacing left a slight ring around the pint glass.  I could smell the heavy aroma of milk chocolate tempered by a bit of roasted caco beans.  The sweet scent of lactose and just a hint of coffee rounded out this stout.  The taste was very similar.  The dominant note of milk chocolate was rich and sweet.  The lactose sweetness could have easily put this milk stout over the tooth rotting top if it hadn't been tempered by some bitterness.  Much like Richard Dent did for Walter Payton on the '85 Bears, the layered notes of roasted coffee and toasted grains gave this beer the needed harshness to balance out all that sweetness. A lovely bit of earthy hops kicked in on the tail as well.  The mouthfeel was creamy and lush, but the abundant carbonation lightened the feel up considerable.  It's difficult to find a decent milk stout for Summer weather, but the lower ABV (for a milk stout at least) and high fizziness make it perfect for when it's in he 80's and you crave something chocolately to imbibe in.  The finish was a bit dry because of the scrubbing bubble effect and medium in length.  The bitter, earthy hop flavor lingered ever so lightly on the tail, setting you up for the next mouthful.
I sort of wonder what ever happened to the O'Leary cow after the fire.

I'd like to think that she got to retire some place warm & sunny.  Maybe Kansas City.
Milk stouts aren't generally easy to pair with food.  The milk chocolate sweetness doesn't lend itself to many culinary options outside of deserts.  Try it with a vanilla cake smothered in gobs of whipped cream and fresh berries. Because this milk stout is lighters than many of its kin, I think it might even work with a lightly spiced barbeque chicken, the hit of cayenne and paprika working together to counteract any overt sweetness in the beer or in the sauce.   I also believe that this might just be the perfect beer to use in a beer float.  Grab a giant mug, scoop or two your favorite vanilla ice cream in it and find a gorgeous summer night to enjoy it on. Just watch out for rouge, low laying lanterns.