The grand opening of a new brewpub or brewery tap room often comes with it a bit of insanity. Everyone wants to go see the new place, drink the new beer, and get the lay of the land as soon as they can. After a day’s deliberation on what Half Acre has done with their taproom, however, this might actually be the one instance where people actually might calm down a bit about these guys – in a good way, we think.
If you live in North Center, you can’t help but have seen the lines outside Half Acre every Saturday morning for their weekly tour, or on a Friday (or whatever day) in advance of one of their big beer releases. We watched the line crawl around the corner and down the block the morning they opened up Galactic Double Daisy Cutter for sale; the beer was sold out in hours. Why? Well, because up until Friday, you could only buy the stuff in mass quantities – if they’d bottled it, you’d have to grab a bomber at the very least, or commit yourself to a full 64 oz. in a growler pour.
While we’ll still take home a growler every week or so (our free growler stamp card is finally full!), just the fact that you can walk next door and get a 12 oz. pour of whatever Half Acre has on hand should mitigate some of that in-store insanity. Even if the offerings at one don’t necessarily transfer to the other side of the building, the tap room should serve as a bit of a release valve for some of that beer-geek tension.
The taproom itself looked pretty cavernous in pictures, but in reality is an easily filled space. Much like the warehouse/factory it’s connected to, the room is fairly no-frills: a couple of cool pieces of bear art, a bar with some bolted-down stools in front of it, some modern-style picnic table seating, high ceilings and a lot of hard surfaces for sound to careen off of endlessly. When we visited on Sunday night, it was blissfully calm – a few people hanging out spread out here and there, no TVs, just a space to hang out for a bit and drink good beer. It’s a zen little corner of the world in comparison to places like the downtown hustle of Haymarket and the huge amount of controlled chaos offered by Revolution’s original Milwaukee spot.
We’re also glad they don’t serve food – just give us beer, please. (When’s the last time a place opened and only served beer? No liquor, no kitchen – this has got to be a modern rarity in and of itself, and for that the assistance of Alderman Pawar should at least be noted.)
Add another data point to our “Best Drinking Street in Chicago” list – the intersection of Lincoln and Cullom just got a little bit more awesome – but a little bit more chill, as well.