Best Local Brewery Dedicated to High-Gravity Beer | Best of Chicago 2014 | Food & Drink | Chicago Reader

Best Local Brewery Dedicated to High-Gravity Beer

Ten Ninety Brewing

Critics' Picks

Ten Ninety's name is a reference to the starting gravity of its four original flagship beers—1.091, which produces beer that's about 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), about double the alcohol of most beers. At 12 percent ABV, the imperial porter has an alcohol content more typical of wine than beer (it was originally 13.5 percent, but the brewers dialed it back a little). That's because when founders Andy Smith and Brian Schafer were still home brewing (the third partner is Jamie Hoban), they participated in Drinking & Writing Brewery's Beerfly Alley Fight, an event that pairs food, beer, and art. Smith says that Schafer, who used to be a wine guy before he started home brewing, thought that high-alcohol beer would pair with food the way that wine does. Then they just kept going. What's dangerous is that most of the beers don't taste as high in alcohol as they are; you might guess it of the tart, spicy, chocolatey porter (brewed with cayenne pepper and pomegranate juice), but not the light, citrusy witbier. For those who'd like to drink more than a beer or two and still be able to walk, Ten Ninety recently introduced lower-alcohol versions of its IPA and wit beers; the latter is called Half Wit, and both weigh in around 6 percent ABV.

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