Half Acre Pony Pilsner

I have been surprisingly consistent in my newfound but still mild acceptance (an upgrade from moderate disdain) of lagers this summer, averaging about two or three new lagers a month. I still can’t say as though I’ve got the thrills for the pils (not really a pilsner man, Teddy), but I’ve gained a modicum of respect for the style and will probably continue to explore as time and liver capacity permits. To be honest, I’m still at the, “yep it’s a pilsner” stage, which is pretty sad considering how long I’ve been at this, but I am getting better, I swears.

This German style pilsner is one of Half Acre’s staple beers. Would have been nice if this was packaged in those adorable little pony bottles, it is available in handsomely designed pounder cans. Despite the cute little pony in the artwork, I prefer to believe this beer was named after the venerable Hyundai Pony, the South Korean answer to the AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto (um, legends in their own right). Maybe it was one of the owners/brewers first cars or something. Of course, I have absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever, but this is the internet so it must be true. I… should probably stop now before the libel lawsuits start rolling in. Let’s take a ride on this pony:

Half Acre Pony Pilsner

Half Acre Pony Pilsner – Pours a very pale straw yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head and decent retention. Smells biscuity, some of those earthy hops doing their thing, maybe some faint hints of citrus. Taste has that bready quality to it, biscuits and crackers, some earthy, spicy hops kick in towards the middle and proceed through the finish, those faint citrus hints emerge a little more in the taste too. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and clean, goes down quick and hits that lawnmower beer spot. Overall, a very light (but quenching) take on the style, but enjoyable. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 10/9/15.

Decent stuff, as per usual from Half Acre. I’m sure we’ll see more of them on the blog in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. Or not, I’m not your mother.

Half Acre Gone Away

While Half Acre Beer Co is located in Chicago, IL, the eponymous half an acre is actually located near Philadelphia. As a result, we’ve always been lucky to receive the occasional shipment of Half Acre beer. This despite Half Acre’s seeming difficulty keeping up with demand in Chicagoland. I’m guessing the supply/demand ratio has changed a little as of late, as I’ve been seeing more and more Half Acre around here, and it is surely a welcome sight to many. Plus, while previous shipments have been mostly their flagship Pale Ale, Daisy Cutter, this time around, we’re seeing more variety. Bonus!

They refer to this as their “cold weather IPA”, whatever that means. It’s apparently had quite the journey in being named, as another brewery brought legal action concerning their initial name “Senita”, despite the other beer having “different words, with different spellings, meanings and visual identities”. The joys of trademark law. So this got a new name, Gone Away IPA, and fancy new can whose artwork evokes old Nintendo-era games for some reason (this may just be me being a moron though). Anywho, let’s go away with this beer:

Half Acre Gone Away

Half Acre Gone Away – Pours a hazy golden yellow color with a finger or two of dense head that has great retention and leaves lacing as I drink. Smells fantastic, bright citrus, some floral notes, and a helping of pine. Taste has a nice sweetness to it, citrus and pine hops kick in, and the bitterness emerges towards the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, light bodied, dry but velvety smooth, almost creamy. Overall, a rock solid if standard American Ale IPA. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/3/15.

This is nice, but that one off I had a while back, Beer Hates Astronauts, was considerably better. Alas, I don’t think they’ve made that one again… In the meantime, I’ve got a few other staple Half Acre beers to work through, so stay tuned.

Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts

So this is the liquid version of God Hates Astronauts, a comic book that seems to defy summary. I’ll just say that I read the first few pages, which depicts actual historical figure John L. Sullivan (“Pugilist Extraordinaire. Total dick.”) training an army of bears, presumably for the purposes of world domination. Half Acre, tasked with summarizing this monstrosity in beer form, apparently just said “Fuck it!” and made a Citra hopped beer.

Mild digression: A few weeks ago Adrian “Ding” Dingle hosted The Session, a beer blog roundup centered around a topic of the host’s choice. His topic was “What the hell has America done to beer?”, AKA, “USA versus Old World Beer Culture”. I did not participate because the Session posts on Fridays and that’s my time for drinking, not writing, but if I did, one of the key components I would have mentioned is the impact of Americans on hop profiles. Citra is the poster child for what the 2011/2012 Barth Report calls “Flavor” hops (other notables are Simcoe, Amarillo, and a whole host of Austrailan/NZ hops like Galaxy and Motueka). To make a long story short, hops with flavor/aroma profiles like these were considered “undesirable” until relatively recently (say the 1990s, but really accelerating here in the current century), and this explosion of new hop varieties and tastes seems to be heavily driven by the good old USA. Of course, we’re not alone in our hop obsession, and hops like Citra are in high demand all over the world. Fortunately, the most recent Barth Report indicates that acreage devoted to Citra more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, so we’re on our way. This is a topic that probably deserves a more in-depth exploration, but for now, let’s get back on track.

Chances are, if all the beer dorks are freaking out over some new IPA or DIPA, it probably involves one of these “Flavor” hops, and at least here in the US, that will often be the Citra hop. Citra is usually cited as having uncommon fruit and citrus aromas/flavors and I certainly detect that goodness, but I usually get a big dollop of floral and grassy notes as well. To give some examples of a ultra-hyped Citra hopped beer, check out Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA. I had one of the latter on Friday, and Beer Hates Astronauts on Saturday, and while not all Citra beers are created equally, I think they compared favorably to each other. Which is saying a lot. Let’s take a closer look:

Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts

Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts – Pours a hazy golden yellow orange color with a finger of off white head and mild lacing as I drink. Pure Citra hops in the nose, grassy, floral, citrus hops dominate the smell (in a good way!) Taste follows the nose, tons of grassy citrus, some floral and herbal notes too, and a shot of bitterness dries things out in the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and dry, really well balanced and almost quaffable. Overall, this is superb. Perhaps not quite Lawson’s or Hill Farmstead level, just a hair away, but close enough to warrant a a strong A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/14/13. Brewery only release, 8/30/13.

So happy that my Chicago trading partner picked this up for me, and while I enjoyed Daisy Cutter, this beer has really raised my eyebrows. Half Acre is a brewery to watch, so I’m going to (continue to) do so.

Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

Half Acre is one of them hyped up Chicago breweries, but the “Half Acre” in question actually “resides along the banks of the Delaware River in eastern PA”. The Chicagoans who run Half Acre actually grew up right outside Philadelphia, which is why they started distributing a few kegs to this area before they even expanded beyond the greater Chicago area. I had this on tap a while back, but I’ve only recently started seeing cans of their infamous Daisy Cutter recently.

Daisy Cutter is just a lowly pale ale, but it’s got a pretty rabid following, to the point where folks used to propose all sorts of absurd trades with the stuff. I get the impression that that sorta douchery has subsided a bit, but then, I just saw someone asking for Kern River Citra and listing this as a potential trade, so maybe not (though it looks like there’s plenty of more reasonable trades being offered these days too). Is this beer really a midwest wale? Probably not, but it’s still pretty damn good.

Half Acre Daisy Cutter

Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale – Pours a clear golden color with a finger of white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells of dank, piney, resinous hops, with some citrus and floral notes for good measure. Taste goes more in the floral direction than the nose, but that dank pine is still prominent with some citrus tagging along too. Nice, well matched bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light to medium bodied, darn easy to drink. Overall, this is some great stuff for a regular ol’ pale ale from Chicago. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% ABV canned (16 oz. tallboy). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/27/13.

As pale ales go, this is a pretty solid choice, definitely something I’ll get again sometime, and if Half Acre continues to distribute around here, I’ll hopefully be able to snag some of their other releases.