Half Acre Brewery is a great place to grab a tour for those who like to wake up for a Saturday morning adventure. I am not a morning person – but I was really proud of myself when I woke up early enough to pick up a very necessary bagel and coffee before making an hour drive into Chicago to get in line for a chance to join the Half Acre Brewery tour. I knew that if I wasn’t in line in time to be included in the lucky 60 people allowed on the tour at 11am – I could still enjoy the tap room (and so can you if you don’t do well with mornings).
When the line starts getting long – a nice young man with nice snug jeans will come out and count the people who will be able to get in, let you know where the cut off is, and tell everyone else that the tap room will be open. My boyfriend and I were behind the cut off, and too tired to be heartbroken. At 11am they opened the doors and started letting people in. Somehow by the wonders of nature we were the last two people let into the tour, even though earlier we might have left. Half Acre Brewery tours prove that miracles can happen to anyone.
First off – you’re going to get three pints of solidly great beer for 10 dollars on this tour, plus the glass you get to bring home. This is by far – the most for your money in dollars per ounce that you’re going to get on a beer tour (that you randomly attend without any pre-arranged membership, etc.) – especially in a big city. I’m going to tell you what I filled my pint glass with.
I started with the Pony Pilsner. This was great. It was a full flavored bitter beer that has a really fresh, crisp ending to it. I wouldn’t recommend it right away to a beginning beer drinker because it might be a bit much, but would recommend it to folks looking for a good alternative to a filling fruity wheat beer over the summer. This is has a fresh enough taste that it works for the summer, while still satisfying the bitter beer lover.
The Akari Shogun English Brown was my second beer & is great because it’s really, really smooth. It’s also right in the middle of the bitter – sweet scale and a solid combination of nutty and juicy. The flavor is a little overwhelming at first, but it’s quick to get used to and I would have a hard time not recommending it to anyone.
Last, I had the Ambrosia, a great wheat beer. A lot of wheat beers that folks start making closer to summer either taste like Lambic or Lemonade and could replace an entire meal at the rate they expand in your stomach. This is brewed with oranges & hibiscus – and has a nice malty finish. This one is pretty medium weight – with a really creative and well balanced flavor that you just have to try.
Also available that day was Half Acre’s staple, Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. It’s great pale ale. The situation is that I didn’t have it… that day, so I didn’t really write down anything about how I think it tastes. Honestly, I have it at least once every time I am in the Chicago area so you should just try it. Per the name, it is obviously a hoppy beer with a tiny floral hint. Just trust me and have some – you basically have to.
You also should take sometime to walk around in this place and look at all of the characters on the tanks, and the stickers on the wall. You’ll heard someone yell when it’s time for you to go – but these folks aren’t just good brewers, they’re fun characters – so take some time to look around, and even pop over to the tap room afterwards if you have enough space left in your stomach.
On a scale from “I hate everything on Saturday mornings,” to “I wake up with the sun and everything before noon is wonderful,” this is totally a 9 on the “worth it” scale in my book. These folks are energetic, happy to have you, and they know their shit. The only thing I would say is that you need to remember to eat beforehand, because otherwise you’ll be drunk during the tour, and you’ll start having conversations when someone is trying to teach you about beer. You really should listen to these guys – they’re smart, and even a little funny.
Things to Google before you go: (some of these are dictated by the characters on the tanks – have fun!)
New season of Arrested Development
Devil’s Half Acre
Why cans are better than bottles
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