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Chicagoist's Beer Of The Week: 5 Rabbit's '5 Vulture' Dark Ale

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Dec 14, 2012 9:30PM


A beautiful thing happened this week. We found ourselves at Cole's Bar in Logan Square for a few late night beers and a minor dance party, when the Tamale Guy showed up. Now, this is nothing out of the ordinary for an evening out at a bar that doesn't serve food, but what made it extra special was the beer we were able to pair with those tamales on the fly.

5 Rabbit Cerveceria bills their 5 Vulture as a "Oaxacan-Style Dark Ale Brewed with Ancho Chili" and, while we don't know of any other "Oaxacan-Style Dark Ales" to compare this one to, we were willing to take the brewery's word for it after the first sip. There's a touch of sweet malt right up front, followed by a burst of caramel and burnt sugar, orange zest, and some spicy hops throughout the mid-palate. The literal kicker, though, is the smokey heat of the ancho chile that lingers on the finish, and definitely intensifies as you continue to drink the beer. Seriously, if you drink this beer, you will feel the ancho chili in the back of your mouth by the time you get a third of the way through the pint, which makes drinking a 5 Vulture a little bit of an experience all on its own.

The 5 Vulture itself is great, but with those tamales, it became phenomenal. With that ancho chili heat, a beer like this doesn't just have the ability to compliment certain foods, it can also become a whole other component of a dish. We mean this in the best way possible, but drinking 5 Vulture with tamales was almost like following each bite with a tiny spoonful of a smokey mole sauce, and it was great even after we'd dipped the tamales into the spicy verde salsa. 5 Vulture is incredibly complex on its own, so it almost seemed to force those simple, life-saving tamales to dust themselves off, get a haircut, and throw on a business suit to take on whatever the world might have to throw at them. What we're getting at here is that while the beer was great with some late night street food, it's also good enough to sit on the table next to anything that a Rick Bayless kitchen might put in front of you.

5 Rabbit has sort of sneaked onto the scene here in Chicago over the past couple of years with their Latin-inspired brews, and finally made a splash a few months back when they announced their beers were going to be available in Chicagoland Chipotle locations. While we're certainly not opposed to Chipotle, we prefer to have the 5 Vulture on tap at Cole's while we wait for the Tamale Guy to show up.