The Adventures of Abrasive Bear: Spiteful GFY Stout Review

In Beer Reviews by Karl0 Comments

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Spiteful says:

GFY STOUT attacks your nose with a healthy dose of ROASTED BARLEY. The assault continues to your taste buds as you pick up bitterness not only from the barley, but from FUGGLES and a hint of CASCADE HOPS. Our ABRASIVE BEAR is there to remind you that sometimes the best thing to say is GFY! And if you don’t know what GFY means, then…GFY!

Spiteful GFY Stout
Russian Imperial Stout, 8% ABV

A few years ago, I had a plan to write a series of children’s novels for high-language-skill toddlers about a character named Respectable Bear and his playful nemesis, Incorrigible Bear. It occurs to me that Spiteful’s “Abrasive Bear” would fit right into a more PG-13 version of the series, with more four letter words and expressive finger gestures. All of this is slightly germane to the fact that not only has Spiteful created probably the most fun beer “mascot” in Chicago, but also a damn fine introductory beer.

When I grabbed this off the shelf at Binny’s last week, I was pleased to see that it was one of the last two or three available (and this at about 6:30 or 7pm at night). After taking it home and sampling it, I’m happy to report that it doesn’t have to be first-day hype selling this beer; it’s definitely a quality offering straight out of the gate.

They promise abrasion, and they deliver, with huge roasted bitterness up front that slides into the hoppy finish that they mention above, making a fun and interesting (and complex) stout that isn’t just a one-note barley bomb. A lot of stouts find themselves without much of a finish to speak of, whereas the GFY has a pleasant long finish that makes this beer a definite sipper regardless of the 8% ABV.

Notes of peanut butter dance around on the start while the finish sparkles with some nice carbonation; many might prefer a nitro-induced smoothness to their stouts whereas I do like the relatively rough quality of this one. There’s a certain sandpaper aspect to the body of this beer, hearty and, well…abrasive.

To be honest, this quite reminded me of a real favorite of mine – Founders Porter. It shares that same highly roasted heartiness with a balancing bitterness; I bet this would be awesome infused with some ancho chile or blended with a little bit of framboise or lambic. Anything else – bourbon would cover the roasty aspect too much for me and vanilla would smooth it out too much, I think – might be unnecessary. (If they really want to be Abrasive – how about a Habanero stout, gents?)

All in all, quite a quality brew right from the beginning for Spiteful, and we’re glad to have them as part of the growing Ravenswood network of brewers and distillers.

I look forward to further adventures of Abrasive Bear – perhaps those promised packaging cartoons from Arcade could tell a 6-panel story someday. And if Spiteful ever needs a couple storylines and secondary characters, well…I know a guy who could help.

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Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, comes out in autumn of 2016, and if you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.