Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Half Acre
Chicago, IL

Style: Schwarzbier
ABV: 7.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
A month or two back I stopped into Half Acre Brewing in Chicago, a storefront along Lincoln Avenue barely a block down the street from a great German bar/restaurant called Glunz Bavarian Haus. Although most of their bottled beer is contract brewed up in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, since the last year or so they’ve been brewing down on Lincoln Avenue as well, filling kegs and the occasional special release bomber.

At the brewery they have, basically, a brightly lit, sparsely decorated gift shop, with a few beers on tap for sampling. I went for Daisy Cutter, a pale ale, which the dude working there called “the big boy.” Although a very good, aromatic pale ale, I wouldn’t call it anywhere near big, unless I was comparing it to Bud Select 55 (which makes water look big in comparison). Suffice it to say, Half Acre hasn’t positioned themselves as the next Three Floyds or Dogfish Head. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Their flagship brew, Half Acre Lager, is a solid, drinkable beer, and the Daisy Cutter, as I mentioned, is a very nice pale.

And they’ve begun to test the waters on a few more expansive brews. They’ve recently cooked up an imperial stout (Big Hugs) and then there’s tonight’s featured beer, Magnus—plenty big (for the style) at 7 percent ABV—described on the bottle label, quite succinctly, as “a schwarzbier.”

Schwarzbier? That’s pronounced sh-FARTZ-beer. It means, simply, “dark beer” in German. Classic schwarzes are, of course, dark, but drink lighter than they look, with little to no roast or toast, and not super malty. Basically, a dark, medium-bodied lager. No word on the packaging as to whether Magnus is a lager or not (their web site, however, says it is), but the rest we can determine by popping open the bottle and sipping. Here it goes.

It’s certainly dark, although not black, per se. More like a rich mahogany, just barely translucent. The head is pretty much white, and disappears instantly. No lacing.

The first whiff before the head skips town is caramel malt. Tiny hints of roast dance on the edges, and a little hop spice pops into the far background of deep sniffs.

The front of the sip is slightly roasted malt, disappearing quickly into a dry, biscuit-like middle. The finish lingers along hints of bitter chocolate and brown sugar notes. That finish is nice and dry, punctuating an easy-going body that, despite the amped up ABV, shouldn’t have a problem passing itself off as an authentic schwarzbier. Another solid entry from Half Acre. Recommended.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on January 27, 2010.
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