Half Acre, Chicago
Date visited: July 2015
This visit actually occurred before the inception of this blog so details may be a little hazy; the passage of time has not been kind to my beer-addled memory. Nevertheless I will endeavour to recount our trip as best I can; armed with some photos and Untappd check-ins. Here we go...
Part of a long visit to the U S of A saw us stop off in Chicago for a couple of nights. We did all the classics in Chicago; rode the 'L' train, ate big deep dish pizza pies, hired bikes and rode alongside Lake Michigan, took ourselves out to the ball game and generally wandered around checking out the famous sights of Chicago.
Chicago was one of my favourite cities we visited in America and I'd gladly go back; it had quite a liberal feel, the art installations were really cool and the people we met all seemed super friendly. I'd heard that some parts of Chicago were a little scary and shooty but luckily we were in a really safe and welcoming neighbourhood - Lincoln represent!
By sheer coincidence, the Airbnb apartment we had booked just so happened to have a tap room at the end of the street - a mere 5 minute walk away (the hosts even left a growler in the apartment for us). Being big fans of coincidence and bigger fans of beer, we did the sensible thing and popped in for a visit. Twice. In two days. Suffice to say, we loved this place.
Half Acre began brewing in Chicago at their Lincoln Avenue residence in 2008 and the adjoining tap room and retail shop opened in 2012. This was followed by opening a second, larger brewhouse a mile and a half away in 2015 to increase production and brewing. The second location obviously wasn't open when we were in Chicago so we settled on the conveniently located tap room nearby.
None of us had heard of the brewery before our visit to the windy city and so we were intrigued to see what their beers were like. I had earmarked Revolution Brewing for a visit (mainly as it was in the excellent film Drinking Buddies) but due to time constraints and location we never got around to it. We did, however, make it to Goose Island Wrigleyville (now shut down) post-baseball watching for some burgers and beers which were decent even if they are now owned by big beer bastards, AB InBev. Anyway, I digress, back to Half Acre...
The Half Acre tap room is very small and therefore fills up pretty quickly - on both visits, it was steadily busy which we saw as a good sign. There were 10 taps to choose from as well as growler fills for take away. Being newcomers to Half Acre and their beers, we managed to snag a table and peruse the beer menu to see what was on offer.
Half Acre brew 4 core beers available all year round: Pony Pilsner, Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, Tuna Extra Pale Ale and Space IPA as well as brewing seasonal beers only available for certain months of the year. We weren't aware of this at the time so just settled on whichever beers sounded best.
I sampled 5 Half Acre beers over the duration of our stay and the two that stood out were the Space IPA and Vallejo. Both super refreshing IPAs that were very welcome after a long day traipsing around Chicago. My least favourite was Hot Tropic - a pale ale with lots of raw coconut. I'm not massive on coconut and it was a little overpowering.
The staff behind the bar were very engaging and full of conversation (we may have all fallen in love with one of the girls behind the bar) and were happy to recommend different beers to try. We did forget to bring the aforementioned growler though to take some home at closing time. Amateurs!
Half Acre was definitely one of the better tap room visits we had on our trip - the small community feel it had was excellent and this combined with great beer and enthusiastic staff has stuck long in the memory. Maybe my beer-addled brain isn't so terrible after all.