a compilation of musings on one of the world's oldest beverages...and a few other topics.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two Years, Some Beers, Less Fears

We're back, two years later. Life got in the way of blogging. I became fully employed for a new company in an entirely new “who would have thought I would be doing this but it’s pretty cool” industry, moved to the delightful city of San Francisco and made it my mission to explore as much of the Golden state as possible. Since my last blog, I've tasted countless delicious beers and have become convinced California- OK, northern California- is the microbrew capital of the U.S.

Rather than attempt to sum up two years of beer intake, I'll pick up in present-day. More specifically, I'll pick up with a recent trip to Chicago that yielded a beer revelation. Have no fear, CA reviews are here. They’re just later on down the line.

Last Friday, while exploring Chicago by way of Lincoln Park, I decided to make my way down to Half Acre Beer Company. I had heard good things from a study abroad friend (thanks Katie N.!)and was directed there by Lincoln Park-dwelling Ali H. (thanks Ali, besos), including rumblings that it was making a name for itself as one of the best breweries in America.

I can't really tout this brewery enough. Besides the fact that their beer is excellent- particularly their flagship beer, the Daisy Cutter- they have a warm and inviting tasting room and unpretentious bartenders willing to answer beer lover's questions. While they don’t serve food, they allow people to order in or bring their own grub. They have WiFi. And in their own words: “It's not a bar, it's not a restaurant, it's an opportunity for us to host and pour you the beers flowing through our brewery.”

I think Half Acre epitomizes the best of Chicago, which has shaped up to be one of my favorite cities in the U.S. Although some Chicagoans may frown on the continuous trumpeting of their kindness and social accessibility (and I can’t imagine why), it’s a major selling point. People actually come up to you and just start talking, even though they don’t know you. Based on my own personal experiences, this just doesn’t happen in San Francisco. Or DC.

Social observations aside, let’s get back to the beer. Per the website, here's the (short) version of Half Acre’s story:

"Having been exposed to rich brewing environments where men made their living turning out beers with friends, the idea of creating that for ourselves in Chicago felt essential. In 2006 Half Acre sparked to life in a spare bedroom. With no brewery and no real means to build one, beers came to life with the crucial assistance of a contract brewer in Wisconsin. Half Acre Lager was the first beer to have a Half Acre label. It was brewed on a 20bbl JV Northwest brewhouse, came to life in 40bbl Fermenters, pushed into 12oz long necks and dropped on a truck back to Chicago where a team of one angled to get it sold. Humble and wayward beginnings."

I’m not going to take the time to review each and every beer I tasted, but I will talk Daisy Cutter. Why did I like Daisy Cutter so much? It’s smooth. It’s fresh and invigorating. It makes me think of evergreen trees and pine (this is a good thing). It has a light to medium body, and hints of citrus. Probably should have said this earlier, but it’s a pale ale, abv 5.2%.

The brewing trends as of late seem focused on hopping beers up to the max, and over-the-top imperial stouts. While I love me some very hoppy beers and count several imperial stouts in my top 10 list…sometimes it’s nice to drink a beer with an abv under 7-8%. This is a tasty, flavorful beer. For those of you who think a beer needs a high abv in order to be tasty or flavorful…you are wrong.

I have designs to get back to Chicago this summer, and plan to spend more time at Half Acre. If you’re reading this Half Acre team, I kindly request that you please come out to SF and do a tasting. I can promise you will be met with open arms.

So thanks to Half Acre, and the gloriously Windy City, for winning my beer-loving heart.

Talk again, beermaniacs.

"You gotta trust your instincts, and let go of regret. You gotta bet on yourself now star, cause that's your best bet."

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