2016 | Featured Beer: Half Acre Beer Co. Benthic

Half Acre Beer Co. opened its doors on Chicago’s Northside in 2007 and have since become one of the city’s most prominent breweries. After maxing out capacity at their small Lincoln Avenue production facility, the brewery expanded its operation to a second, much larger space that has allowed them to experiment more and add to their already stellar lineup of beers. For BeerHoptacular, head brewer Matt Young is excited to pour a beer unlike anything Half Acre has done before; an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with toasted coconut and coffee added called Benthic.

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“We’ve never brewed a beer like Benthic before. It’s definitely the biggest, strongest stout that we’ve ever made. It’s just a brutally smooth, decadent nightcap beer. This was the first time we brewed an entire batch of beer through our beer house that all went into barrels rather than just being kind of a one off barrel sort of situation. We’ve always wanted to brew stuff like this but not until we had the bigger facility were we able to do anything like that on a larger scale.”

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“We didn’t really have time allotted on the brew house to brew a beer that was just going to go into barrels and sit for a long amount of time and we didn’t have the space over there to physically store the barrels.”

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“When we moved into our new facility here on Balmoral early last year we obviously have a lot more space and more brewing capacity so we could do some more fun stuff like Benthic. Our initial location on Lincoln Ave was really limited on space. We were also limited on our capacity so pretty much all the beer we brewed over there had to be beer that we already had a home for, going into cans, just to maintain the commitments we’ve already made to accounts for our regular beers.”

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“We did a few test batches so we brewed a beer that was not aged in barrels at our old brewery on Lincoln, as an initial test batch. We just made up a stout recipe and brewed it over there. It tasted great. At Balmoral, we made a commitment to put the whole batch in the barrels. We had enough space to store the barrels so we brewed it not long after moving over into this building but then it aged in the bourbon barrels for nine months to a year. So just now it’s finally being finished up.”

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“The plan all along was to brew a beer that way and then ultimately age it all in bourbon barrels so that the beer wasn’t technically complete until it had gone through the bourbon barrel aging process. It wasn’t just an add-on, accessory treatment. It was meant to be aged in these barrels and it’s not finished until that part is done. It’s like using the barrel’s characteristics as an ingredient.”

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“Now that we have produced this type of beer, it’s fitting for a beer festival like BeerHoptacular. It’s great in a smaller pour and to compare against other beers that people are maybe trying to really max out their resources and time and make stuff that you don’t often see around. We wanted to highlight our latest attempt at doing something like that.”


Author: Steph Bryce


2016 BeerHoptacular

November 5, 2016

Cinaspace Studios - Chicago, IL

Matt Tanaka