Jingle Balls | Spiteful Brewing
Time really flies. Somehow Spiteful Brewing – which I still think of as the young, upstart brewery – recently turned nine. Like the brewery would be in 4th grade. Wow. They grow up so fast. I ventured to the taproom over the weekend to celebrate with them and some nice barrel-aged offerings as well as their standard core of easy drinking hoppy beers. And one of those really hit the spot, so here we go – Spiteful’s winter ale with spices, Jingle Balls.
From the small brewery space off of Ravenswood Avenue to the taproom space right next to Half Acre, Spiteful has excelled at making both easy drinkers and big, barrel-aged stouts and barleywines. Their first appearance on our show happened early – like Episode 1 early (which got them a spot on our Episode 400 show). Spiteful really doesn’t stray too far from what’s made them so successful.
Jingle Balls pours a copper or dark orange color. If you told me this was a malty DIPA/IPA, I’d believe you. A finger and a half of head stays around for a fair amount of time but eventually recedes to a lovely thin layer atop the beer. You can jingle all the way home through the glass as Jingle Balls is crystal clear – not even a chill haze of any sorts. Beautiful looking beer.
Smelling Jingle Balls imparts three main things – bread, spices and sweetness. The bread note hits first and big, reminding me of a hearty rye bread. The spices come to play next. The spices aren’t listed, so some of the guesses I had were allspice, clove and cinnamon. In any case, there’s a big spice note present. The sweetness comes entirely from the malt and finishes up the smell adventure. So you basically get a sweet, spiced bread on the nose. Banana bread without the banana?
Those big bready notes shine throughout the Jingle Balls sip, assisting with a nice full bodied beer. Spices appear near the end of the sip and linger for a bit, making you crave some more. Surprisingly, a fair amount of grassy bitterness presents itself on the finish. I’m used to winter ales not having much bitterness at all, but the bitterness on Jingle Balls really pops. In concert with the spices, it makes Jingle Balls something you want to keep drinking.
Thankfully, Jingle Balls keeps the carbonation spot on. If this were on the lower side it would be too much. It sits on the lighter side of medium, managing to warm the cockles while still being an easy drinker. The spice and bitterness hang around a bit and when combined with a kiss of malty sweetness make it a festive occasion in your mouth.
While not as warming as other winter ales I’ve had, the bitterness on Jingle Balls is welcomed. The warming effect is there, it’s not too heavy in the belly, and the spices really add an interesting twist to the style. That bitterness appeals to IPA drinkers, while the bready notes and spices might appeal to Belgian beer fans. So stop by Spiteful, wish them a happy 9th birthday, and pick up a 6er of Jingle Balls. And a 6er of their dark mild while you’re at it. Maybe for their 10th anniversary they’ll have some cask beer?