Based on the Northside of Chicago, Half Acre Brewing has just recently made its way to New Jersey and started arriving in our stores. Since starting in 2008 they operate two breweries, one on Lincoln Ave that features there original tap room, a retail store and a kitchen. Their second location on Balmoral was built in 2015 and the just recently opened Tap room and Garden. I had the chance to visit the Lincoln Ave location while in Chicago this past summer and recommend it to any one visiting the area. Plenty of different styles beers on tap along with some killer homemade potato chips from their kitchen.
www.halfacrebeer.com “This beer has classic IPA heft. Many hop forward beers of the modern are defined by omission. GoneAway shines from raw material impact on both sides of the equatorial flavor hemispheres. Big grapefruit, green strawberry, resin, pine, dank, light honey, cracker, tropical mango/guava, assertive bitterness, pine sap, clean, dry finish.“
ABV: 7% IBU’s: 60
Head: Small of white head, fades quickly. The pour is slightly cloudy with an orange hue and mild carbonation.
Nose: Mostly floral with sharp pine, plenty of hops and a little bit of lemon and tropical fruits.
Palate: Medium Bodied and smooth. Hops show the most with a slight resin like feel. The finish is crisp with a good acidity.
Overall: Really tasty stuff, everything you want in a hop forward IPA while staying very drinkable. I was excited when I heard this was making its way to New Jersey after trying a handful of their beers in Chicago and looking forward to more to come.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Pints
Renowned electronica DJ producer turned craft brewer Brian Strumke started Stillwater Artisanal in 2004. Brewing in his backyard for years, he took a different approach using non-traditional ingredients and unconventional methods to create new interpretations of existing beer styles. This quickly earned him the title of “Best New Brewer” in 2011 by Ratebeer.com. One of the original “gypsy brewers,” in one year he was able to brew 50 Stillwater beers in over 12 countries. Calling Baltimore home, Stillwater HQ serves as a gallery, restaurant, full service bar and even a bottle shop.
Tangerine Haze is a double dry hopped sour ale brewed with tangerines.
ABV: 7% IBU’s: N/A
Head: Small off white head, less than finger and fades quickly. Good amount of carbonation.
Nose: Slightly hoppy with a faint hint of citrus notes, bit of a tart aroma in the background.
Palate: Tart right from the start with a sharpness to it. There hops and tangerine almost offset each other a little bit, some sips I get more hop notes and some shows more citrus fruits. Finish is clean, slightly acidic and leaves nice tart flavor on your tongue.
Overall: I wasn’t sure what to expect going to this one, was going to be more of a hoppy ale of more of a sour ale. I was surprised by the amount of tartness right out of the gate, personally I love a beer that comes on strong and Tangerine Haze does just that. May not be a beer for everyone but if you like a good sour with a little fruit this is for you, another stand out from Stillwater Artisanal.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.4 out of 5 Pints
Steve Hindy and Tom Potter founded Brooklyn Brewery in the mid 1980’s. In the beginning, most of the beer was brewed on contract sites in upstate New York, until they found space in Williamsburg for a functioning brewery. It all started with Brooklyn Lager, but today the brewery produces over 16 year-round brews with and multiple seasonal selections throughout the year. They have grown well beyond their microbrew roots, to one of the most recognizable brands on the market today.
brooklynbrewery.com – “Brooklyn Bel Air Sour is full of surprises. Our sour ale starts up with bright notes of tropical fruit yet finishes crisp and gently tart. It’s a trip that’s laid back, breezy, and completely refreshing.”
Pour: Light yellow in color and slightly hazy with a good amount of carbonation. A small off white 1 finger heads forms before fading quickly.
Nose: A good amount of fruit, pineapple really stood out to me, and floral hops. There’s really nice tart aroma with some wheat behind it.
Palate: Very smooth and balanced making it easy to drink, has more of citrus taste to it mixed with wheat and lemon grass. Tart but not but overly sour, the finish is clean with no acidity giving it a refreshing feel.
Overall: The sour style has been huge last two years and is still growing with bigger breweries joining the party, including Brooklyn last year. This was a seasonal release last year and I can see why they added to the year round line up, very refreshing and easy to drink.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.4 out of 5 Pints
Port Brewing and The Lost Abby have been around for over a decade now and in that time have a created pretty unique brands. While they make many different styles of beer, IPA’s played a major role in there growth over the years and now as a joint venture they are starting a new concept focused solely on IPA’s. The Hop Concept Freshener Series aims at simplifying IPA’s by telling you exactly what to expect on the label and using new hop combinations. Each release will be quarterly, sold in 22oz bottles with different hop combinations and meant to be consumed as fresh as possible.
TheHopConcept.com – “Aromas of floral citrus and mango dominate this release. While the flavor leads with a burst of bright papaya, pineapple and tangerine, and finishes with hints of spice from the hops and a clean, sweet malt undertone.”
ABV: 8.5% IBU’s: 85
Pour: A clear orange color, slight haziness. A medium off white head lingers before fading away.
Nose: Lots of citrus fruits from the start, mostly grapefruit and oranges with some tropical notes. Fair amount of pine with a little bit of malt.
Palate: Super juicy, exploding with fruit notes. More mango flavors than grapefruit and oranges but plenty tropical fruits here coming together. Good amount of pine with some resin, little bit of malt before a clean finish.
Overall: With IPA’s being one of the most popular styles of beers out there, most brewers are looking for a way to take them to the next level. This was nice throwback to a simpler style with a focuse on the hops and freshness. The name pretty much sums it all and the label was right on the nose, Tropical & Juicy.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.7 out of 5 Pints
Based in Denver Colorado, one of the top craft beer capitals in the US, it can be tough to stand out. Crooked Stave Artisanal Beer Project has managed to just that. They made for themselves brewing sour and farmhouse style brews along with using special yeast strands and barrel aging. Most of their beers are made in small limited run batches and once one batch is gone they move on to the next. Today we’re going to take a look at their Vieille Artisanal Saison.
Vieille Saison is a classic take on a French style Saison that is barrel aged and dry hopped to give it a little hoppy aroma and taste.
Pour: A really nice golden color with a bit of haze. Not much of head, small and off white fading quickly.
Nose: Very fragrant, the aromas just pour out of the glass. You can smell the yeast with of hint a tartness behind it. Very faint notes of hops with a touch of citrus.
Palate: Reminds more of almost a white wine, slightly dry with ripe pear at the end. Almost no hop presence what so ever, you can taste the yeast over the hops. The finish is quick and clean with a balanced dryness, slight creaminess from the oak and no acidity at all.
Overall: Not what I was expecting but really cool take on a classic style. I was expecting more of dryness to this but it drank more like a South African Chablis with its hints of oak and pear. I really enjoyed this and would recommend to this to someone looking for something a little outside the box with awesome flavor. Looking forward to more to come from Crooked Stave.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints
Since 1996, Adam Firestone and David Walker have been producing amazing beers in California’s Central Coast. The Paso Robles Brewery has won the award for Best Mid-Size Brewery at four of the last five World Beer Cups. Renowned for crafting iconic pale ales and pioneering barrel-aged beers, they now have a portfolio of nearly two dozen year round & seasonal brews.
ABV: 5.5% IBU’s: 23
Pour: A deep dark brown, almost black, with Mahogany highlights when viewed in the light. It is surprisingly opaque for the style. The one finger cappuccino colored head dissipates quickly but does leave a light lacing behind.
Nose: Offers up notes of oatmeal and roasted malts. Coffee and chocolate notes are plentiful and intertwine with a slightly smoky note. Sweet notes of molasses can be detected along with some earthy hop notes.
Palate: Tons of roasted malts. First you get the coffee, then the oats and chocolate flood the palate. There is a molasses like sweetness that hits at just about the same time that the smokiness does. A hint of vanilla is also discernible.
Overall: Mocha Merlin is a great coffee oatmeal stout from the folks at Firestone Walker. Has loads of coffee notes on the nose and palate making it an excellent winter beer that with a lower than average ABV can be drunk (instead of sipped) by the fireplace. Try pairing it with aged cheddar, pork mole or chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints
San Diego’s craft beer scene is one of the best in the country. Standing out is no easy task, but AleSmith has managed to do just that for over 20 years.
They made a name in late 1990’s and have been awarded Small Brewing Company of the Year, Brewer of the Year as well as #1 Best Brewery in the world by RateBeer.com.
In recent years they’ve moved to a new state of the art facility, boasting the largest tasting room in San Diego. This Mexican Style Lager is brewed by AleSmith with Southern California natives Sublime to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album “40oz. to Freedom.”
Pour: Golden in color with a slight haze to it and mild carbonation. Slim white head forms and fades leaving some lacing on the glass.
Nose: Not much going on, some light hop notes and aromas of caramel give it a sweet twist.
Pallet: Light bodied, there’s a hint of hops but very mild. This is an easy drinker with a slight malt background and great balance. Finish is clean and crisp with no acidity.
Overall: Balanced is the best way to describe this one, it has a feel of a traditional Vienna-style lager with a SoCal twist. Alesmith suggests this as a go to beer for hot days on the beach or tailgating and I think they nailed that feel. A great pairing with burgers, grilled sausages or some spicy pulled pork.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Pints