Revolution and Beer…of the week: Spiteful Brewing’s Double ESB and the meaning of reward


The sound of a heavy sigh, and me draped over the back of a chair. Before me the nearly smoking hot keys of the keyboard, and those magic words that every writer alternately prays for and dreads-“The End.”

It is the end of this road. The cats and laundry have been neglected. Dishes have piled up in the sink, and the wife kind of, sort of recalls the last time we actually had a substantive conversation. For the last several weeks the predominance of our communication consisted almost entirely of a befuddling series of gestures and waves. But it is done, and after all of that, the late nights and up-before-dawn writing binges, I can rejoice-albeit alone.

No, no, it isn’t like that. The wife didn’t leave me for someone who communicates verbally. She was at work when I finished the Play, “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden,” a humorous swipe at the security state. So I fed the cats, which, as excited as they were for food, gave the place a party atmosphere. As for me, I was saving something special for this moment.

I’d been coveting a bottle of Spiteful’s P.A.C. Forever, Double ESB. I grabbed a couple of stout tulip glasses to focus the aroma a bit and headed over to Brian’s for a taste. We’d both had a tough year, and beer really has made the difference in keeping us both from falling to deeply into those challenges. Beer, good beer, and the community we brought to it, carried perspective. I caught him at home alone, waiting for the family to return. The house was quite, golden late afternoon sunlight bleeding through the blinds in the front room of his red-brick Chicago bungalow.20130803_181337

The beer poured to a cloudy copper color with a bit of an ochre hue. The light cream head was full and airy, settling gently, and lingering upon the glass in an intricate lacing. The aroma was light and nutty with a slight fruity character with notes of grapefruit and cherry. Brian and I raised our glasses together. Radio, TV, nearly a hundred protests this year, a new book and a play, on top of all that has happened this year-so far- and the first taste of Spiteful’s P.A.C. Forever charged through us like a shot of joyously cold electricity. The 7.6% ABV didn’t hurt either!

The nutty character of lightly toasted malts hinted at in the aroma carried over richly in that first taste. It was laced with fruitiness underlying that bordered on the tart side without being disagreeable. Extra Special Bitters, or ESBs are a bit of a misnomer. They are, in fact, characterized by balance. The double ESB, I surmise, referred to an enjoyable hoppy bitterness at the end.

It had come up cool that evening, the sun nearly set behind the two flats across the street. Brian and I finished the last of our beer. The family was just getting home, so I made my departure. The fever and rush of the last several months seemed paused for a moment, the memory of Spiteful’s P.A.C. Forever Double ESB and the peace of the evening returning perspectives to their rightful place. I took a cleansing breath and started down the shadowed block. Sometimes even revolutions need a moment…

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