On a recent trip to Chicago, we hopped around town to a number of breweries to sample the local craft beer scene. One of our favorites was Half Acre Brewing Company. Started in 2006 by utilizing a contract brewer in Wisconsin, Half Acre has now grown into one of Chicagoland’s favorite local breweries. Since 2009, they have been operating out of their current facility in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood, along with a storefront for bottles, cans and growlers-to-go, as well as a taproom, which opened in 2012. Half Acre has been on the forefront of the recent, local craft beer boom in Chicago, paving the way for dozens of others. In 2010, they became the first Chicago brewery to can their beer.
After a little sampling of all of their tap room offerings, we decided to hop over (pun intended) to the storefront to grab some bottles and cans to bring back to our offices in Brooklyn. Since Half Acre only distributes in the Chicago area, we felt it was critical to bring some back for a 2 O’Clock Tasting. We sampled their flagship pale ale, Daisy Cutter, as well as its bigger, bolder sibling and two other seasonal offerings.
This flagship pale ale was loaded with piney, resiny West Coast hops. A very clear honey color, the nose was full of aromas of dank citrus, woody pine and even a hint of chamomile. The taste was bitter and refreshing with a nice light mouthfeel and plenty of bubbles to keep those aromas popping while we sipped. We could definitely see hanging out on a boat on Lake Michigan with a cooler full of these at hand.
This bigger, bolder sibling of Daisy Cutter brings everything we liked about its younger kin and amps it up to another level. Loads of malt bring the color of Double Daisy to a deep copper and the double dry hopping gave this beer a wet pine aroma, as well as loads of refreshing citrus peel. The bigger grain bill also gave the mouthfeel of this offering a chewier texture than its predecessor. We were lucky to be in Chicago during one of the 4 times a year this beer is released.
This American IPA brewed with Chinook and Amarillo hops, had a beautiful day-bright honey appearance. The aroma unfolded with a variety of freshly peeled citrus zest and the taste had a similar citrus note combined with a slightly spicy, almost pungent garlic flavor. The mouthfeel was nice and light due to the use of mostly pale malt, which allowed the hops to really take center stage.
Our final beer of the day was Baumé, an intriguing sounding chocolate rye stout. An anniversary beer for Half Acre of sorts (it was the first beer ever brewed at their current facility and it's released once a year in February.) A deep brown to black color with purple hues when held up to the light, Baumé had the look of cola and the aroma of coffee and bitter chocolate. The taste unfolded into deep roasted notes with a nice spicy flavors to counter the bitterness. This one made us think of those delicious rye chips in snack mix. Definitely a big beer that has some chew to it.
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