Half Acre: twin taprooms

16 Apr

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Well, anther day in Chicago another beer or should I say beers. The day started out with tasting four beers at Begyle brewing. Miranda will be writing more about Begyle but Kevin, the brewer, was such a gracious host I had to say something. If I am ever in Chicago again, I will be drinking a few pints of Begyle’s best.

From Begyle we had to get a late lunch. The burger at the Bad Apple was excellent. My stomach needed to be full before returning to the drink at Half Acre‘s taproom. Or should I say taprooms.

First we went to what I will call the tasting/to go room. Here Half Acre has a row of taps were you can taste the days offerings and get a growler (or howler, their name for a 32 oz jug) filled. I got a sample of their Space IPA, Daisy Cutter and Hot Tropic Coconut pale. All were excellent, more on the Space when I get to the drinking taproom. The Daisy Cutter, Half Acre’s flagship beer, is a dry hopped pale. It was 70 degrees today, 20 degrees warmer than the previous two. I was a bit over dressed and this beer hit the spot, great hop nose, medium/light body with just enough malt to back up another beer with the American hops I love. If you like hops, and need the right beer for a cookout on a hot summers day, in Chicago this is you beer. Next up the Hot Tropic. The coconut was added just after the boil to add richness, not necessarily flavor, to this pale ale. This exactly what it was. Overall, a slightly toned down version of the Daisy Cutter with a nice smooth fattiness and just the slightest hint of coconut. If you have had a oatmeal pale, then you will have a relatively good idea of the flavor profile of the Hot Topic beer. Along with the beer, there is all their merchandise, sorry no Half Acre the flame thrower, in this tasting room. I mention this as naming your beers is just another way to be creative, Half Acre takes it a step further by pairing with local artist for their labels, t-shirts and stickers. It is always good when one craft can support another.

Now we walked the 100 feet past the brewery to the “drinking” taproom. Miranda and I started with their two specialty taps. Miranda started (and finished) with their Big Hugs a coffee stout made with coffee from the local roaster Dark Matter Coffee. I had a few tastes if this beer and let me tell you they did not hold back on the coffee. Big Hugs is a big beer with lots of tasty dark malts and even with this, the coffee was clear as day, Miranda’s kind of beer. I started off with a King of Prussia, their Quakerbridge English style barleywine age in barrels. First off, the barrel was a quinoa whiskey barrel, who knew there was such a thing as quinoa whiskey? Anyway, I was told these barrels were use as they impart a nice vanilla note without much sweetness. A little silly if you ask me, as an English barleywine is a sweeter beer style in general. This aside, unlike the Cabrito, the flavors of the King of Prussia were big and powerful; vanilla, bourbon, rich sweet malts and alcohol. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a good English barleywine and I throughly enjoyed this beer but after my one glass I was ready for something different. Clearly I was getting tired as I ordered another Space IPA, thinking I was trying something new, oh well. The Space IPA is predominantly hopped with Citra and Falconers, with minor contributions from six of the other ‘C’ hops (I wasn’t told which ones). I have to say I liked the Daisy Cutter better but this was still an delicious IPA. The medium-light body carried the citrusy hops to a slightly sticky sweet hop finish. At this point we were worn out even though there were 6 to 8 more beers on the tap list. We all have our limits and Miranda and I reached ours early today but tomorrow is another day.

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