Founded by childhood friends Brad Shaffer and Jason Klein, who discovered their passion for great beer as they explored craft and home brewing in their young-adult years, Spiteful Brewing launched its first commercial release in November of 2012. Ever since, they’ve been brewing delicious beer for all Chicagoans to enjoy.
The road to success wasn’t a short one, however. And over the years, the founders have built up a great team to help take their brewing business to the next level.
In celebration of this month’s Brewery of the Month, we sat down with one of those team members—Calvin Fredrickson, Spiteful Brewing’s Account Manager. He gave us the inside scoop on Spiteful’s journey, and we learned about how Calvin became an essential part of the team.
Check out our Q&A below:
When & how did the brewery begin?
Brad Shaffer & Jason Klein met while playing hockey together, and bonded over their “spiteful” sense of humor, hence the name. They opened the brewery around the same time other like-minded breweries, such as Begyle & Pipeworks, were also starting up.
In November 2012, they released the GFY—a big, roasty, American stout. It came out in a bomber format (22-oz bottle), as they did not have a canning line yet. As a small brewery, it was difficult to get their hands on a canning line and the equipment needed to release beer in cans. Bombers served as a way for the brewery to get their beers on the shelves.
IPAs were hugely popular at this time, so releasing GFY was a bold statement that a lot of other breweries weren’t making.
How did you get into brewing?
I met Brad & Jason while I was volunteering at Pipeworks in 2012. Brad was filling in brewing at Pipeworks to keep himself busy and sharp while he and Jason were preparing to launch Spiteful. They wanted a better understanding of how to brew on a commercial scale, and to become more familiar with the equipment Spiteful would soon have.
I kept in touch with Brad & Jason while working at Goose Island full time, and eventually accepted a job at Spiteful because I wanted to be part of a small, independent brewery where I could have a personal impact.
How did you become interested in working in the craft beer industry?
I was reading and studying beer before I ever actually drank it! I picked up Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer while completing my degree at Depaul University. The book is a craft beer staple in many people’s libraries. I learned a ton & became fascinated with the seasonality of brewing and the language of beer.
Where did Spiteful brew before the brewery-taproom space opened up?
Before our taproom space opened up, we were based father south on Malt Row, at Berteau & Ravenswood, which was a 60 second walk from Begyle & Dovetail.
At that time, we were a production-only brewery with no taproom, holed up inside the basement of a building alongside several other businesses, like Letherbee Distillers and Lakland Basses.
Spiteful brewed here for 5 years while preparing our new space and expansion. Now, we are located in Bowmanville on 2024 W. Balmoral, right next door to Half Acre.
When did the taproom open?
The taproom opened in 2017, and the neighborhood has really embraced us!
What’s your favorite beer, and why?
My favorite beer is Alley Time, our flagship American pale ale, which features Simcoe hops and delicate, pilsner malts. It has the body of a dry-finishing pilsner, with a pungent dankness and piney flavor. It’s perfect.
What’s your favorite beer from another brewer?
I love Dovetail’s Rauch Doppelbock. It is a gorgeously constructed beer that is a bit mysterious… with a touch of smoke and figgy caramel flavors.
What’s the most popular Spiteful beer?
The most popular Spiteful beer is the Working for the Weekend Double IPA. People in Chicago love strong, hoppy beers—who knew? And the label artwork for Working for the Weekend is hilarious. People buy it for the label alone. It’s our best seller out in the market.
Buying Spiteful beer at our taproom is different though, and people’s favorites vary day to day. We offer a broad range of American and European-style beers, many of which are available at the taproom only. Come by for a pint and shoot the breeze with our bartenders! We’re open seven days a week.
What’s your favorite memory from your time at Spiteful?
My favorite memory is eating Budacki’s hot dogs in the basement of the old space with Brad & Jason, while drinking GFY or Fat Badger irish red ale. That is when I knew I wanted to be a part of Spiteful.
What are Spiteful’s plans for the future?
Alley Time is our focus this year. We have seen it grow organically faster than any other beer that we make. Since we’re so inundated with IPAs in stores and at bars, many of us beer drinkers don’t realize our hearts want pale ale. So, have a pale ale today!