NORTH CENTER — Spiteful Brewing’s latest small-batch beer — the “Absinthe Barrel-Aged Klutzy Buffoon Saison with Cherries” — just might be Chicago’s strangest brew.
And it’s all thanks to the friendly spirits-maker next door.
A few months back, Letherbee Distillers offered its neighbors at Spiteful an absinthe barrel that inspired the brewers to give their saison-style beer an anise-flavored kick … with a cherry on top.
“For us to have the barrels is a really big deal. It’s basically a wet barrel with some charred character and really a treat to experiment with,” said Spiteful’s “Business Guy No. 2” Calvin Fredrickson. “The barrel adds a strong anise flavor from the absinthe and some oak as well.”
Adding cherries to the barrel gives the beer a pretty pink hue and acidic sweetness. Fredrickson says he’s “never tasted anything like it.”
“It’s a special beer, but not something you tuck away and save forever,” he said. “It pairs well with food and has a spicy licorice flavor. But it’s not snobby beer that only a spirit connoisseur will like.”
And the Klutzy Buffoon got a pretty positive reception last weekend at the Festival of Barrel and Wood-Aged Beers (FoBAB for short).
The fellas at GuysDrinkingBeer.com put it this way, “Spiteful’s Absinthe Aged Klutzy Buffoon Saison with Cherries had so much going on I don’t even know where to start.”
Spiteful produced about 500 22-ounce bottles that are available at craft beer stores scattered around the city — Bottles and Cans in North Center, Archer Liquors in Garfield Ridge and Capone’s Liquor in Irving Park to name a few.
Fredrickson said Spiteful brewers plans to continue to experiment barrel-aging its beer in used barrels from Letherbee, which also distills a Malort-styled liquor called “Besk.”
Which begs the question: Is there a Malort barrel-aged beer in Spiteful’s future?
“You know, we talked about that yesterday, but I’m not sure if they even barrel-age Malort,” Fredrickson said. “I wonder what that would taste like.”
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