AVONDALE — Two of the city’s favorite alcohol brands have teamed for a truly unique Chicago beverage: Jeppson’s Malört made from Anti-Hero beer.
CH Distillery has made a new batch of Malört distilled from Anti-Hero, Revolution Brewing’s popular India pale ale beer. The special edition of Malört — the infamously strong and bitter liquor — is available to the public starting Friday.
The collaboration between Revolution and CH Distillery was spurred by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the local beer market. Avondale-based Revolution saw an uptick in canned beer sales at the start of the local outbreak, but the drop-off in kegged beer sales has hit Revolution and many other local beer makers hard.
Because they are unable to open, local bars returned 160 kegs of Anti-Hero back to the brewery, said John Carruthers, communications manager for Revolution.
“They were getting near their expiration date,” he said of the returned kegs. “We were looking for a home for this beer rather than destroy it.”
That’s when Revolution turned to CH Distillery, the Pilsen-based distillery that bought the Malört brand last year. The two companies had a relationship, and so Revolution asked CH if they had any use for the unused Anti-Hero.
Malört has been used in other beer crossovers before. Indiana’s 3 Floyds Brewing Co. used Malört barrels to age an imperial stout. In this case, CH decided to distill a batch of Malört from Anti-Hero, Carruthers said.
The result is a Malört that has the malty sweetness and hoppy aroma of an India pale ale. Malört is already known for its strong flavor profile, but the Anti-Hero components work well together, Carruthers said. Both beverages contain grapefruit flavor notes that are well complemented in the new product.
“This is the most Chicago beverage, between Malört and Anti-Hero, that I can think of,” Carruthers said. “I think it works well.”
A limited amount of the special Malört will be available at local Binny’s, and for pick up or delivery through Revolution’s Logan Square brewpub. Sales will begin Friday, although pre-orders can already be placed on CH Distillery’s website. Bottles will retail for $25.
The collaboration has a charitable aspect, as well. Revolution and CH will donate $5,000 each to Comp Tab Relief Fund, a Chicago-based effort to provide relief to hospitality workers.
Malört was born in 1934 when Swedish immigrant Carl Jeppson created a beskbrännvin recipe, a popular Swedish herbal aperitif. The Chicago resident sold the spirit door to door during the Prohibition as a “medicinal alcohol.”
The Chicago icon both beloved and hated by many was produced in Florida by the Carl Jeppson Company for three decades. But after CH Distillery bought the company last year, Malört found its way home and is now being produced and bottled at CH Distillery in East Pilsen, 1629 S. Clinton St.
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