Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kate The Intern On: Beer

Today is a guest post from our intern Kate:

As I entered my last semester of college, I had the option of doing an internship for a company in Chicago. I considered all the things I wanted to learn more about and who I wanted to learn from. After a lot of research on beer in Chicago, I set my sights on Half Acre - local, hands-on, small and growing.
I didn’t learn until they interviewed me that plans were in the works for the new brewery, and in a short time I was helping them move from West Town to North Center. I have learned an overwhelming amount every day I’ve been here. I’m officially a Marketing Intern, but that hasn’t stopped them from teaching me everything about their business, across the board.
Not that I have one anecdote for you, just a lot of goofy good times. I’m writing this post while hanging out with Gabriel’s dog Holden and listening to the brewery grow in the background.

Being part of Half Acre has taught me a lot about the beer community in Chicago too – not just the business end. I’ve been encouraged to attend a lot of beer events and meet a lot of beer people. Being in the company of so many craft beer lovers and brewers has certainly skewed my view of what most Americans drink.

Chicago’s beer community is much smaller than I had originally imagined. The amount and variety of local beer feels disproportionate to the amount and diversity of beer drinkers in Chicago. People’s eyes light up when they realize the beer you are offering is local and ask questions faster than you can answer them. Geography seems to be of particular importance – everyone wants to know exactly where our beer will be brewed and how close they can get to the beer making itself. Our extraordinary city pride seems to grow even larger when beer is involved.  

Happy Thanksgiving 

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Intonation Music Workshop

The Intonation Music Workshop is a band based after-school music program whose mission is to provide access to musical instruments, instruction, and performance opportunities for kids in neighborhoods where programming is needed most . Tomorrow they're having a party at Butterfly Social Club and we're sponsoring. You couldn't find a better cause and surely a good time will be had by all. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some Buzz

We've had a couple different things in the news lately that you guys might want to check out.  Thanks to Lizz Kannenberg and Peter Sachs for taking the time to come out and talk to us about what's going on with Half Acre Beer Co.  

Medill News Service Article (with a video the author put together)

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today's Update

I’ve been getting requests for a brewery update, so I’m going to lay it out.
We wrestle this unruly beast every day and slowly we’re winning.
Much of the process is now in the hands of others like architects and engineers. Everything we do has to be put in plan form, approved by the city and then physically put into play. All the while we do things that don’t need this type of approval. It’s been a wild orchestration that can easily get blundered should one thing derail.

To be specific:

The Architect and his team are close to done, so the structural layout, floor plan and second floor design are almost complete. Much of this time has been spent creatively addressing how the first and second floor function together in order to work well for our needs, meet code and to not have to sprinkler all 12,000 sq. ft of the building. We’ve also had to redesign for two handicap bathrooms, put together a whole new lighting plan, make changes to our kitchen (no we will not be a restaurant), change the location of the front door and both windows, add a door from the retail area to the brewery, address a lot of airflow concerns and a mess of other things that I won’t get into. As soon as those drawings are done the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineer will address all of his issues on those same plans. At the same time, the Structural Engineer will look over the entire structure to make sure code is met, then reconfigure the second floor where we’ll mill our grain. We’ll reinforce that area to handle the load of our mill, grain storage etc. Then those drawings head off to the city for approval. Once aspects are approved, which shouldn’t take too long, (they will go through and address things one by one) we can put each approved piece into action immediately. We estimate executing that work in one month.
In the meantime, we’ve been dry-locking all the concrete block in the building so we can hose down everything. It’s taken a long time because there’s a ton of it. We’ve done some floor work in the brewhouse and fermentation area to make things flow better. We’re now laying down epoxy in both areas. We went with “Dark Gray,” it should look fly. Once the epoxy has set we can put our tanks in place and start piping things together. We’re building a pad on the roof where our chillers will sit. We’ll use a crane to get the big unit onto the roof – we’re looking forward to having a crane. These chillers will run our Glycol system that will keep our vessels nice and chilly.
We have the basic design of the “Retail Area” complete. The whole concept of this area is a little unique. It’s still semi-top secret, as we’re still hashing it out, but it will offer our customers something fun. Aesthetically speaking we’re looking at a lot of wood, some iron and that’s all I can say.
The sidewalk permit we need to rip off the exterior fa├žade will come this week so we can rip down the old wood to make room for our signage that is close to ready. We’ll have large, solid aluminum letters mounted to the building that are exactly the same as our logo. There will also be our star at the highest point on the building.

So, that’s the scoop. I’m wearing a particle mask while typing this and all is swell in the land of fun and beer.

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Goose will continue to pour on Clybourn

Even after their brewhouse was listed for sale and Goose brewer Will Turner had accepted the fact that he'd be brewing at Fulton st, Goose Island reached a last minute agreement with their landlord and will continue their brewpub operations.  I'd say that's great news for Goose and their loyal customers.
Read more about it here.

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

Thursday, November 6, 2008


This weekend is the annual Festival of Barrel Aged Beers. This event put on by the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, a non-profit organization founded in 1997 dedicated to promote the development and expansion of the craft beer industry in Illinois. It’s a good group of folks and the event is a great showcase for barrel aged beer.

Our friends over at Goose Island, a brewing company that helped pioneer this practice, make a beer every year called Bourbon County Stout. This is a hefty stout aged in barrels that were previously used to make Bourbon. Since they only use these barrels once they offered other Illinois brewers the opportunity to grab their used barrels free of charge. We took them up on their generous offer and now have some of these barrels over here at our compound.

Our space was quickly filled with the smell of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, so even though we’re not able to make beer at this location yet, there is the sweet smell of a great beer permeating the air. Thanks to Goose, and should you want to try some beer aged this way, then come on out to the event and get your hands on some of the best you’ll find.

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL