The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Archive for the ‘Brewery’ Category

Half Acre Beer Company

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on July 4, 2010

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Our time in Chicago was packed full of activities.  Aside from meeting up with friends, the Wife’s big goals were to introduce me to the Taste of Chicago and Giordano’s pizza.  While were there, though, we thought we’d try to experience a local brewery. 

We ended up at Half Acre Beer Company

Our friend signed us up for a tour at the brewery at 1 pm.  It was kind of an odd location for a production brewery, really.  Tucked in the heart of a small neighborhood, it looked like more of a place for a brewpub than a production brewery. 

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We arrived just in time for the tour to begin.  We didn’t need tickets, per se, to join the tour, but we were requested/required to sign up for the tour.  The brewery was under construction.  Evidently the first year of production had been more than a little successful, and so the company was having to expand operations.

The tour began by helping ourselves to a dixie cup of beer from one of the pitchers.  More on the beers in a minute.  The brewery tour was pretty standard, really.  They have a 15 bbl brewhouse, which was acquired used from a brewery in Colorado.  You can also see the grist hopper on top of the mash tun.

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Then we checked out the mezzanine where the ingredients were kept.  One interesting thing about the brewery is that they cask-age a small percentage of their beer for competitions and festivals.  Two of these barrels are wine barrels and the other two are whiskey barrels.

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After checking out the mezzanine, we went back downstairs to see the fermentation tanks and canning line. 

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At this point, we had some time to ask some questions.  A couple tidbits that came out during the tour:

  • Half Acre uses water from Lake Michigan to brew, appropriately treated and filtered.IMG_0390
  • Spent grains are sent to local farms as high-protein feed for animals.  This really isn’t that novel of a use for spent grains, as lots of breweries do this that I’ve been to.  However, it’s a solid green practice for the 1,000+ lbs of spent grains (plus absorbed water weight during brewing) per batch.

 

  • Half Acre conditions (carbonates) their beer after primary fermentation, i.e. they post carbonate.  This is pretty common for most breweries, but is distinctly different from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (among others), which uses natural carbonation from the yeast during alcohol production.  There are tradeoffs between the two methods; cost, control, purity, etc.

 

  • Half Acre has a canning line for the beer.  The pictures I took of the canning line really didn’t turn out, unfortunately.  There are any number of reasons that most breweries, particularly small breweries, bottle their beer.  One big reason, though, is that canning lines are frequently very expensive, and cost-prohibitive for smaller breweries.  Half Acre, though, had a canning line for their beer.IMG_0387

After the tour, our industrious tourguide, Gabe, was clearly interested in getting back to work, as soon as his music was turned back on.  We headed back to try the other beers.

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The Gossamer Ale is their flagship beer, as far as I can tell.  A simple, tasty ale, it was the perfect color, texture, and aroma for a good-ol’ “drank’n” beer, like Kath’s husband Matt would say.

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The Daisy Cutter Pale Ale was perhaps the most flavorful pale ale I had in a long time.  It really bordered, in terms of hop aroma on an IPA, but the Wife, who is distinctly NOT in the Pale Ale/IPA camp, found it refreshing and tasty.  Pale Ales and IPAs, having perhaps surpassed deep golden lagers as my beers of choice, was an exquisite beer, appropriate for any afternoon on the back porch.

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The Over Ale, while not appealing directly to my tastes, was a brew worthy of your time.  It was not particularly heavy nor rich, as I find a lot of dark beers to be, it was more like a black lager or amber ale (in terms of mouthfeel), than the rich, thick feeling of a stout or porter.  The Wife seemed to particularly enjoy it.

After enjoying our time in the brewery, we headed into the adjacent Half Acre Brewshop.  Half Acre memorabilia (or paraphernalia, or whatever it’s called in this instance) was for sale, including shirts, hats, and pint glasses. 

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Growlers with the Half Acre logo were also on sale, but only when filled.  I was hoping to add a Half Acre growler to my growler collection for homebrewing, but I didn’t really want to risk hauling the beer in my checked luggage, and I somehow didn’t think I had sufficient time to get through it before we left Chicago. 

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I picked up a pint glass and had a nice chat with gentleman minding the store, Mike, about the brewery, the shop, and the general business of brewing.  He was friendly and personable, and he let me get a picture with him for the blog.

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Half Acre is still building up their distribution area.  With the brewery expansion, though, stay tuned for a Half Acre beer available in your favorite Chicago-area bar.

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Marble Brewery

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on May 8, 2010

After dinner at Sadie’s, we decided to take our waiter’s recommendation to check out Marble Brewery in downtown Albuquerque.  It took us a bit longer to find the place than we expected as the streets in the area are one way streets in some places and a road might have split.  As we got closer to what we thought was the right area, it seemed a bit darker than our comfort level.  However, when we pulled into the parking lot, we saw lots of cars and figured it couldn’t hurt to check it out.

IMG_2903Upon entry, we saw a number of tables and booths and a nice long bar.  There were two seats available at the closest end of the bar so we headed to them to have a seat.

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One of the bartenders handed us a menu and we began checking out our options. IMG_2904 IMG_2905 There was a good selection to choose from (the names were also on a chalkboard over the taps).

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While the menu didn’t specifically have a sampler option, they had 5oz beers as an option for $1.50 each.  The Husband and I decided to order five to try and share.  (I’ve provided two different photos to try to show how they look in different lighting as some look better in one light than the other.)

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IMG_2909 From left to right, we had the One-Eleven Blonde, the Wildflower Wheat, the Amber Ale, the Marble Red, and the Porter.  Below are descriptions of them from the menu.

One-Eleven Blonde: A light and crisp traditional German-style Pilsner brewed with German malt and hops.

Wildflower Wheat: An unfiltered American Wheat Ale accented with New Mexico wildflower honey.

Amber Ale: Brewed with a blend of toasted and caramel malts for a rich malt character which we then finish with a light, aromatic dry hop.

Marble Red: Brewed with caramel malts and balanced with a bright blend of Crystal, Cascade, and Simcoe hops.

Porter: English style dark ale with an aroma reminiscent of Hershey’s chocolate milk.

These beers were EXCELLENT! While some of the different styles are not those that the Husband and I prefer, the Husband described them as excellent examples of their individual style.  The only one the Husband didn’t particularly care for was the Marble Red, but that’s just because he’s not a Red fan.  He thought it was an excellent Red, though.  My favorites were the One-Eleven Blonde, the Wildflower Wheat, and the Porter, but particularly the Porter.

While we didn’t stay long, just wanted to sample the beers, we were happy with the service and the overall atmosphere.  It seemed like a chill place to hang out – not too dark but not too trendy.

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At the bar, we were sitting across from what I think was the panini maker.  While we didn’t have any food, it smelled amazing!     The Marble Brewery appeared to have a beer club, which I could see us joining if we lived anywhere near Albuquerque.IMG_2918

The Husband looked online to see if they distribute any where where we might get to have it again.  Unfortunately, they don’t, but we know that if ever see it on the menu or we find ourselves back in Albuquerque, we will likely order one of these brews again.

Marble Brewery on Urbanspoon

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Boscos Restaurant – For Beer Lovers

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on April 28, 2010

For dinner in Little Rock, the Husband and I hadn’t received any recommendations on where to eat so we decided to explore the local area to see what we could find.  A quick perusal of Urbanspoon restaurants showed a handful of restaurants that didn’t speak to us.  We saw that they had a Flying Saucer, but having been to the one in Charlotte and the one in Columbia, SC, we knew we’d like it but we were hoping for something more unique.

We walked up and down the block and just as we were about to settle on the Flying Saucer (well not quite settling as we knew we’d have a good meal and good beers), we saw Boscos Restaurant.  (The Husband saw the awning while I saw a folding board noting their Sunday brunch.)

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Being beer lovers ourselves, and their awning claiming to be a place for beer lovers (hey! that’s us!) we decided to give them a shot.  We were offered seats outside but it was a tad chilly and the latino concert/festival was still going on, next door, and quite loudly! I did pop outside to get a photo from the balcony however.

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We met our waiter, Brock, and were immediately impressed and looked forward to the rest of the evening.  He was personable, friendly, and gave us lots of great recommendations.  We started with beer of course! Boscos brews their own beer and we do love microbrews.  The Husband ordered the Boscos HopGoddess Ale, described as being  brewed with 100% pilsner malt and a heaping helping of Saaz hops, a hybrid pilsner fermented as an ale.  I had the Downtown Brown, a classic English-style Nut Brown Ale.  As described, it was flavorful and easy to drink.

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Later in the meal, Brock brought us samples of the Boscos Oatmeal Stout (I was a fan!), the Isle of Skye Scottish Ale (a well brewed Scottish Ale according to the Husband), Boscos Bombay IPA, and Boscos Famous Flaming Stone Beer.

The food menu had lots of interesting options but the Prix Fixe menu caught our eye.  Both the Husband and I were sold on it.  $25 for three courses, that all looked appetizing, looked good to us.

To start, the Husband ordered the Petite Oyster Poboy.  This was not at all petite! It was fried oysters tossed in honey hot sauce, served on toasted french bread and topped with melted blue cheese.  The Husband really enjoyed this and shared it with me even though I was hesitant as I hate blue cheese.  This was GOOD! Perhaps it’s the first dish that will help ease me into liking blue cheese.  We’ll see…

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I ordered the Chicken Flauta.  It was shredded chicken, refried beans, and mozzarella rolled in two tortillas and pan fried, served over salsa de rojo.  This was also excellent.  Creamy center and the salsa had a nice kick to it.

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For our main courses, the Husband and I both ordered the same thing, a dish highly recommended by our waiter.  We got the Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin.  They were topped with an apricot glaze and served with garlic mashed potatoes and braised cherry tomatoes.  The tomatoes were cooked perfectly, the mashed potatoes were flavorful, and the pork was tender.  A great recommendation! IMG_8553

For our last course, we of course had dessert.  Our options included Apple Crisp, Brownie a la Mode (always in fashion as the Husband says), and Sorbet.  I went with the Apple Crisp while the Husband went with the Brownie.  Neither of us were impressed with the desserts, but they weren’t bad.

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While we’re sure we would have had a good meal at Flying Saucer, we were glad we found Boscos.  The service was good, the food was excellent, and the beers were refreshing.  There are four locations, according to their menu, so if you’re looking for another brewery and you’re near one of these cities (ironically we’d been in all of them in the last 48 hours!), check them out.  IMG_8539 IMG_8544

Boscos Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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And We’re Off… Good-bye Charlotte

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on April 25, 2010

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Well, the day that we’ve been thinking of had finally come; we were moving away from Charlotte.  It was a hectic day, indeed.  Half the day I spent working, half the day I spent working with the movers and cleaning, and half the day we spent preparing for the trip (packing the car, getting hotels, etc.)  It seems like three halves is impossible.  I’m reasonably certain my math teachers and professors would agree.  However, as far as I’m concerned, I have physical proof that I managed to squeeze it all in on Friday.

The movers were friendly, fun, and hard-working, but it took longer than we expected to get the house emptied.  Once they were gone, it was like a closing shot from a season finale of a sitcom.  Rooms emptied except for maybe one or two boxes bound for the car.  Soon we would be locking the front door forever.

But not quite yet.  We still had all the cleaning to do, so that the house would be in good shape for being rented.  And we still needed to pack the car.  And we still needed to take out all the trash.  And we still needed to take the cats to the kennel for boarding.  And we still needed to terminate the cable service.  And we.. and we… the list seemed interminable.

As 9 pm came and went, we were rounding the end of packing the car and getting all the trash out.  It was a slow process.  Finally, though, the time came for us to walk through all the rooms to verify they were all completely empty, turn off all the lights, and close the front door.  It was surreal.  I’ve moved before, but it’s never felt like this.  Leaving all our friends for something otherwise so undefined… and taking 6 days to get there.  How odd?  Finally, the door was locked, and we headed for the car.  It was about 9:10.  I felt like we were the Baltimore Colts, sneaking out in the middle of the night.  We had only told a couple of neighbors we were even moving, simply because we hadn’t seen them (keep in mind all the travel we’ve done recently). 

Believe it or not, we were tired after all that.  And generally grumpy.  Not in any kind of angry way, really.  Just in the “it’s been a long day, and things took longer than expected, and we still don’t have a hotel, and when are we going to be able to see our friends again, and I hope the cats are alright, and…” kind of way. 

We decided to meet up with some friends at OMB.  They were scheduled to get there at 7, but we had long since abandoned the idea of meeting them there on time.  We decided to try to get some rest and relaxation, along with some camaraderie, just before slipping out into the Charlotte night. 

OMB was just the trick.  We had a great time.  Some friends invited us to Nolen Kitchen for a late night meal.  We had managed to skip dinner, so we knew we needed SOMETHING.  Nolen Kitchen sounded good to us.

Dinner was great, albeit a bit late.  We didn’t get out of dinner until after midnight.  The Wife had managed to make a reservation at the Westin.  We decided early in the week that we were going to use Hotwire to book a 4-star hotel in Charlotte, and let the magic of Hotwire determine where we would be staying.  This wasn’t our first Westin, as we had stayed in one for her sister’s wedding in 2007 in Annapolis.  They are wonderful chain hotels, with remarkably luxurious amenities. 

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As we woke up Saturday morning, it was with melancholy anticipation that we headed for the car.  We enjoyed our dual-showerhead shower, and got ready to depart the city for our last time as residents.  Anytime we return, we will be guests… visitors… tourists. 

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When we had our first Thanksgiving in Charlotte, the Wife saved the turkey’s wishbone.  We had never made a wish, but we decided we would save it for something special.  During packing, I had painstakingly shuffled it from place to place so it wouldn’t be broken, nor would it be forgotten.  Now, feeling like we needed a little emotional boost, I pulled it out to show the Wife.  She smiled.  I suggested that we make a new tradition; we will save the wishbone from the first Thanksgiving in any new city we move to, and we will make a wish when we move on.  It sounded like a wonderfully simple and elegant tradition to begin. 

We both took several seconds to decide on what to wish for, and then each grabbed an end.  We pulled.  The wishbone exploded.  Pieces flew all over the room.  There was no satisfying “dominant” piece.  We each held a small remnant of the entire wishbone.  Had the moment been just a bit more somber, I fear the Wife would have burst into tears, and I would have crawled back into bed.  Not so, this morning, though.  We smiled at each other and burst into laughter.  We had made a new tradition, and managed to destroy that tradition all in 3 minutes.  The event gave us an emotional, boost, oddly enough, and we packed up our things and headed for the car.

IMG_8263Perhaps the Wife asked for a sign to help us realize it was ok to move on.  And maybe she got her wish in the destruction of the wishbone.

Either way, good-bye Charlotte.  We have called you home for nearly three years, and we’re sad to see you go.  We hope the feeling is mutual.  We’re excited about new places, new faces, and new experiences.  In the mean time, we’re hauling down I-40 across the country, and we hope you’ll come back and see how our trip goes.

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