- Style: Milk Stout brewed with fresh raspberries. Can I get a collective "YUM"?
- ABV: 7%
- Ease to locate: Most craft & large liquor stores in the Chicago area. I didn't see an entry on Beer Menu for this variant. My batch was #187 and I have recently found it on the shelf at a few local places, so I would imagine it's easily attainable
- Color: Murky milk chocolate brown with golden highlights
- Head: A scant, not quite 1 finger of dark tan foam that quickly settles. Low spotty clusters of lace.
- Aroma: Abundant rich milk chocolate notes, a little fruity raspberry and a hint of coffee
- Mouthfeel: Lightly creamy, but a bit more dry than expected. Lots of carbonation
- Finish: Long. Begins with chocolate/raspberry, slides to dominantly chocolate and ends with a raspberry note that lingers.
- Food friendly?: To me this is a desert beer that doesn't necessarily need any food to fully enjoy. But if you so wanted, you could take advantage of the beer's rich profile and serve it alongside simple deserts. Try pairing it with a slice of pound cake or homemade shortbread cookies
One of the nicer things about Chicago's craft beer scene as it builds to a solid foundation is that the more established brewers can start to experiment with their beers. Let their collective hair down and enter the world of imagination (and THAT folks, is the only Willy Wonka reference that you will ever get out of me. Unless I someday write about the serious trauma which that movie has inflicted upon my soul. I may save it for my memoir however.) Spiteful Brewing is suddenly on this bandwagon now, or so it at least seems. In the last four or five months, they have released every version of their popular God Damn Pigeon Porter that an average beer geek could imagine, except maybe for God Damn Excessive IBU The Sulfur Is Burning My Eyeballs Pigeon Porter (Spiteful, please do not brew this. I'm pleading with you. Don't. But if you do, yes, I will probably buy it. I'm so weak.) Some variants, of course, are better received than others. And other versions just knock your fraking socks off. In August of 2013 I posted about Spiteful's Mrs. O'Leary's Chocolate Milk Stout (here's the link if you want to familiarize yourself with the base beer. I'll wait.) I loved this milk stout. In fact, in my food pairing recommendation, I suggested pairing it with a berry forward desert. On hindsight, I suppose one (and by one, I mean the brewers over at Spiteful who probably came up with the idea all on their own) could just put the berries in the damn thing.
My Mrs. O'Leary's Chocolate Milk Stout With Raspberries (that is a mouthful. I'm going to just refer to it as Fruity Cow) poured a murky, milk chocolate brown with lightly golden highlights. A not quite one finger dark tan head rose in the snifter and then quickly fell. The foam settled into a solid ring which left behind shallow, spotty clusters of lace. The aroma of slightly sweet milk chocolate wafted from the glass. An easy to detect scent of tart raspberries was present as well as a hint of bitter, earthy coffee on the very back of the nose. But if I have to be completely truthful here, both the aroma and taste reminded me of the Harry & David's Chocolate Covered Raspberry candies that I'd sneak every year at Christmas. They were delicious. As was this beer. The flavors of rich milk chocolate, a bit sweet with milk sugar but still ever so slightly bittered by the chocolate element, were tempered by the fruity, tart note of raspberry. There was nothing artificial or fake about either flavor and each were very well balanced. I also could taste a hint of dark coffee and a very light earthiness layered under the chocolate, milk sugar and fruit notes. Like most well done milk stouts, Spiteful decided to let the flavors be true and stand out instead of over complicating the profile. As I found with the original Mrs. O'Leary's, Fruity Cow is rather lighter in mouthfeel than I was expecting. There was a creaminess present for certain, but it wasn't a decadent, tongue coating sort of body at all. The abundant carbonation helped to keep the stout on the dry side as well. And as I believed with the original beer, I didn't think that this medium bodied mouthfeel detracted from my enjoyment of the stout one iota. I loved the long finish. It began with the chocolate milk sugar note off set by the tartness of the raspberries, slid to a singular domination of chocolate and then trailed off with just the raspberry, a note which lingered seemingly forever. Maybe not the best finish profile for food pairings, but a hell of a good sip.
As I mentioned previously, I don't necessarily think that you need to pair this beer with any food in order to enjoy it immensely. Some beers benefit from outside flavors. They use the food as a springboard to bring out or temper the beer's inherit notes. Fruity Cow (AKA Spiteful Brewing's Mrs. O'Leary's Chocolate Milk Stout with Raspberries for those of you who skimmed the previous paragraph. If you did, I'm not mad at you. I'm just disappointed.) is not one of those beers. If you really feel like you want to serve something of substance alongside of the stout to justify opening a bottle of alcohol and calling it desert (again, not mad, just disappointed) try pouring it in a snifter with some Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies. They're simple to bake and even simpler to eat. Maybe you could also play a little Charlie Parker or Oscar Peterson for the cows' sake. She looks like she's had such a day.