Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To Brew In Our House

We recently made the purchase of a new (to us), old 15 BBL brewhouse. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have made this purchase. It sinks up so many things and brings us one huge step closer to our goals.

Now that we own this collaboration of stainless steel we need a place to house it. Finding this space is a very delicate thing. We want the space to be suitable for some time. Moving breweries is no fun, and costly as can be. With that in mind, we need a place that's good for the first brew and also for years to come.

You would think a city like Chicago would be chock full of places that would make sense, but it’s really not. The government really puts the screws to people who make alcohol, so there is a laundry list of concerns even before we try to sort out our own needs. Frankly it’s enough to give you an ulcer, but as long as we keep it in perspective and utilize the beer we make to keep from personally blowing a gasket, then it should work out.

Right now we have some really exciting prospective locations that could make a nice home to our brewery. These next weeks will be crucial. I’m sure we’ll land on something that makes sense for us, and can also serve as a fun space for people to visit and soak up the vibe of our company.

Regardless of the space we choose, we’re making decisions that will impact our company for years to come. That idea is both exciting and nerve racking. We have the chance to set our company on a trajectory that will impact much of what we do.

Please come visit us as soon as the space is up and functional. What fun it will be.

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I used to live in Boulder, CO. I spent some great years there at a time when being young and carefree really hit the spot. Colorado, as a state, is a place filled with many natural wonders and excuses to get outside and explore, and also many reasons to drink good beer. As a whole, Colorado is a culturally conservative place, but sprinkled throughout the state you’ll find extremely liberal places offering locals and travelers a haven for all kinds of life. Boulder is one such place.

Boulder sits north of Denver beneath the Front-Range: the beginnings of the Rocky Mountains. Within 100 miles of Denver you can find over 100 breweries. That’s pretty impressive if you think about it. Here in Chicago, we can find maybe fifteen, most of which are brewpubs. Colorado has been home to much of the craft beer movement and a big reason that we’re able to make a go of it today.

While out there I was able to tour Avery Brewing Co, hang out with the nice folks at Mountain Sun Brewery and stop in and visit the staff that runs the Brewers Association. The Brewers Association plays a large role in craft beer advocacy, arranging large events for the brewing community and publishing numerous publications. All in all, the brewing presence in Colorado is impressive, and very much a part of the overall community. Even the Mayor of Denver is a successful brewer turned politician.

What I found to be strange, and something I didn’t realize when living there or even visiting in past years, was that their dense brewing community has an effect on the style of support establishments offer. Here in Chicago I can go out to many places and experience a draft list of over 3o beers and a bottle list twice as long. This isn’t uncommon. It’s actually becoming sort of average. In Denver and Boulder you can drink some of the best beer brewed in this country, but you don’t find the variety per establishment, and certainly not from breweries in all corners of the country. Establishments have the breweries they support and don’t seem to stretch to out-list the place down the street.

Chicago is a brewery starved city. Places set out to compile these gargantuan lists of great beers from every state in this country, samplings from other continents and one-offs from brewing co’s that barely have distribution outside their own town because Chicagoans have become passionate about attaining the new, varied and different. In Colorado establishments have relationships with their brewers. They know each other, respect each other personally and professionally, and as a result, they support one another. The places with long and extensive lists are the brew-pubs, who choose to create a lengthy selection for their guests. In Chicago, outside of the small brewing community, beer people are the ones that pride themselves as consumers, their ability to build a list of great beers and make opinions about quality.

As a customer, I have to say it’s nice to walk into a bar and get hard-to-come-by beers from far away places, but I think it says less and less about the place itself. Anyone can set up an account with a new distributor. I find it special to go to a place that might have a small batch beer from a local brewer that you wouldn’t find in other establishments because they have a good relationship with the brewing co. It speaks to the place and how invested they are in the products they sell and the people who make them.

I’m also torn on variety. Again, it’s nice to have option, but a zillion beers that are collecting dust doesn’t seem like the best option for me. I find that a well selected, frequently rotating list of beers that mean something to the establishment and their ideas on beer and community makes for a better experience. In my opinion, a discerning list speaks more than a grocery list of every craft beer on the map.

As the owner of a brewing company, it’s nice to do business with places that make larger commitments to fewer beers. If we have fewer places selling more beer, then it’s easier for us to make a larger commitment to each of those places. We can be more present and supportive in their efforts.

Anyway, my trip to Colorado was great, as it always is, but it was good to come home, too. There are more brewing operations coming up in this area. We’ll see what happens.

Gabriel Magliaro
Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Computers

I’ve been a regular computer user for about 8 years. Prior to that I was easily able to go about my professional and personal life without the need for one. I think I both envied and pitied computer users. Part of me wished that I had some sort of high-tech lifestyle that used computers to process huge amounts of information, like an 80’s movie where some unusually intelligent kid rigged his Texas Instruments computer to hack into another country’s mainframe – spitting out national secrets in small, green letters seemingly typed out individually. The other part looked down on people stuck in cubicles endlessly plugging data into some large database that spit out endless information for other people to plug into their database. And even though those thoughts are polarizing, there was a time when I could go either way.

These days, I don’t care if you’re the most dysfunctional person on your block; it’s almost guaranteed that you’re tuned into the computer for one use or another. Old men are browsing their way through the Internet reading up on upcoming surgical procedures that they will undergo. Kids are surfing sites their parents asked them no to. Whatever you do, whoever you are, there is something a computer can do to make your life more efficient or help you to consume tons of time that would be otherwise unconsumed. If you’re reading these words than you know the power of the glowing box.

My father is the only person I know that doesn’t use a computer on at least a semi-regular basis. He uses it indirectly, but isn’t the first-hand user doing the navigating or typing. I introduced Skype to my parents so they could visit with Branden, my nephew, while living states apart. So, my Dad will go to the screen and have fun with is Grandson, but hasn’t had the urge to take charge of all those gizmos himself. I was on the phone with him the other day and he was getting emotional talking about his last Skype experience with Branden, so even the guy who doesn’t use computers gets teary-eyed about his computer use.

I use a computer as much or more than anyone. I practically run Half Acre Beer Co from my computer. Of course I’m out and about meeting with establishment owners and enjoying the world and beer drinking public, but much of my business communication and marketing happens with the use of this here computer. I’d be up the creek without it.

In a relatively short time computers have become so important and incredibly powerful. I had, and still have, the first IPod. This thing is like a white lunch box that could store a few word documents compared to the little squares of storage wonder that are selling for half the price I paid for my first. I don’t know the facts, but it seems like the more advanced technology gets the easier it is to improve. Technology breeds better technology. It’s as though the designers of these things would make chips that are 1000X more powerful, but they need the chips that are 10X more powerful to understand how.
Regardless it doesn’t seem like there is an end to the improvement and understanding when everyday they’re creating more powerful tools to help them understand.

“I think this computer thing is catching on,” my father will joke, and I think he’s right.

Half Acre Beer Co