Some would say that DDB has been historically unfair to Half Acre. They are a respectable, moderately large, easily accessible brewery that pumps out consistent wares. The comedic marrow from a single questionable bottle notwithstanding, how does the rest of their lineup beyond Small Animal Big Machine yukyuks fare?
Today let’s take a survey course of some boots-on-the-ground midwest staples.
First and foremost, as an overriding oeuvre, their marketing is pretty slick. Holofoil labels, intricately detailed characters, and simple unified messaging make these the subject of Pokemon card collector’s admiration everywhere.
But you didn’t come here to read some aesthetic appraisal of copy and point of sale brand recognition breakdown, how do them shits taste tho.
Ah their stable old work horse, Daisy Cutter. The reason this is such a punchline to out of distro traders is largely due to is accessibility. This beer has been almost unbiquitous in the parlance of extras for upwards of half a decade. The real snagging point is that land locked masses love to send out cans that have a Kool Mo Dee fade to them, aged to perfection. The fresh can is markedly better but still exhibits a sort of “mid 2000s” panache that only a stepfather could love. It is not hefty in the sweet profile, but it also fails to demonstrate a radiance cum de tropical fruits that are the zeitgeist in particularly the pale world. PRLLY NOT EVN ANY MOSAIK IN THIS EITHER. In sum, this is a fine, lightly malty, coniferous meets shalloty romp through the organic produce aisle and you could drink these endlessly in and around bodies of water.
This however, is something exceptional and occupying a special “non-BA but doesn’t feel like a concession” sort of orbit. Vanilla big Hugs is dialed in, chocolatey, with a moderately svelte execution a touch above the Central Waters/Czar Jack canon. The reason this beer shines in an exceptional way is the focused, unidirectional SHURE mic blast of vanilla and oreo that is detonates on every level. It is whipped frosting and cake batter, fantastic watery structure that fails to pull out any single aspect in a sugary manner. In that Platonic form of vanillaness, upon exiting the cave this is akin to looking at one’s own bean-based shadow. The oils compliment the touch of toastiness and the whole swallow is unified like a SONOS system playing dulcet tones throughout the oily sweet drag. This is amongst the best non-barrel aged adjunct stouts and easily on point with the innumberable Funky Buddha riffs that seem to cascade endlessly like so many dick pics in the DM.
Aha, now we are cooking with alpha oils. Speaking of a traditional page from the DIPA book, look at how fucking radiant and brassy those SRMs are, it’s like poppop finally shines up that tarnished old banister to a sparkling luster. This beer was previously always compared to the “whaley” DIPAs of yesterdays past: Kern Citra, Boy King, Ephraim, etc. It is tough to explain those days to someone who has a blue vein thrombosis for milky trubby canned offerings from areas covered in darkness most of the year. Suffice it to say, this is a pretty tasty DIPA that, while not deserving of the local-driven fanfare, is certainly amongst the best that the midwest has to offer. I know that is kinda like “She’s the hottest girl I have ever seen working at the Container Store” type of qualification, but it is something I would actively seek out. The touch of sweetness is outright dominated by the orange peel and tangerine zest on the nose that was oddly absent from the simpler HADC. It’s greatest attribute is the slowly milky release of hoppy MDMA where you can drill an entire bomber without active appraisal.
I am sure some dipshit who has a moderate knowledge of the causes of nucleation will chime in on the comments, stretching their foreskin like a batwing to demonstrate some “CLEAN UR GLASS” epithet. It is coming no doubt. I could waste your time making Ginuwine references, or we can get right to it and say that this is no Reality Czech. But it is also far better than most Pils offerings, the corny starchy likes of PATIO PILS jump vegetally to mind. This is narrowly tailored like a Ben Sherman suit and exhibits a biscuity quality and a light honey sweet touch of grassiness. If I had my way this would replace Daisy Cutter in the realm of one-dimensional “child’s dance recital” beers hidden within clutch bags. It is endlessly drinkable and something most breweries would be exceedingly proud of if only for how tightly the iris is focused, there is simply nothing left to bokeh with these traditional, tasty low f-stop values.
Hang onto your AXE body spray and overinflated self image, they went and done made a hoppy wheat beer. If you have had Fortunate Island from Modern Times, you have basically had this beer. In retrospect, the entirety of this brewery’s focus seems to fall decidedly on the “landscaper” or “hot weather enthusiast” spectrum. I am remiss to image someone suffering through a gunshot riddled, 2 degree winter on Chicago’s south side hitting up a local bodega for these refreshing radiant treats, but who am I to speculate. If Half Acre did a collabo with Le Cumbre, the entirety of the migrant worker population in the southwest would slide into decadent hoppy alcoholism, tanking the Constellation stock overnight. This is a mildly peppery meets faintly lemony run up the fretboard that almost reminds me of a hoppy hef or a shittier/cleaner version of Weihenstephan. I can see it’s place in the market and suffice it to say, it is gauche to set up these strawmen to ignite on DDB. It’s like those painful “off-genre” covers or youtube videos where you use a clash of context and review fast food in a high brow way. It’s been so cringingly done that I wont hector you with that transposed rhetoric. Go look at the 2011 DDB reviews if you want to dip into that trite inkwell.
Half Acre Vallejo. I drank this backstage before a comedy show out of the can, put tersely, DDB lacks journalistic integrity in sensory performance. That being said, I actually really enjoyed this one, can and all. Perhaps that is the selected medium of appreciation, for that on-the-go father who is rushing out the door with a bagel but also needs to reek of Centennial before noon. This has a moderately hefty mouthfeel with a sort of ritz cracker sweetness tempered by restrained pine and honeydew. The whole thing again lends itself to consumption. If that is the party line, then Half Acre has unquestionably succeeded in being an iconoclast to topple these “$60 a DIPA can” secondary market assholes. For that alone, I wish them to prevail all the more.
In sum, Half Acre provides a valuable resource to people who enjoy good beer, but maybe aren’t maladjusted enough to devote their entire lives to it. The further I tread into this Swamp of Sadness, the more I witness all of my Artax patience die, gurgling under hype and raffles and MBC conscription. Drinking Half Acre is an atavistic panacea to people like that, an elixir for the soul-crushing realities of the modern beer scene.