The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘Beer’

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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Guest Wanderers Head to Salzburg – Part II of II

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on May 22, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part II

Hi there, me again – back for Part II of my day in the life post about our trip to Salzburg, Austria. If you missed Part I, you can read it here.

If you’ll recall, I left off at the bus stop, having just returned from The Sound of Music Tour. We were feeling particularly adventurous today, so we decided to do ANOTHER tour with the same tour company. This time we did the ‘Mountains and Salt Mines’ tour with Panorama Tours.

2:00 – We hop on the bus for tour #2. I’m still not sure if 2 tours in one day is a little crazy, but we’ve already explored the city on foot the day before, and we’ll have tomorrow morning to do more of the same, so we might as well, right? We asked the dude at the tour company kiosk for another tour that wouldn’t have any overlap from the Sound of Music tour, and that’s how we ended up on this one.

We start out by climbing into the mountains past some beautiful countryside. We’re actually in Germany at this point.

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We go past Obersalzburg which is right around where Hitler’s retreat (Eagle’s Nest) is located. We went by several WWII landmarks and our guide filled us in with all of the historic details.

3:30 – We hit the Halleinsalt mines.  This was pretty cool – it was a working salt mine that also had a few levels open to tourists. So we put on our fancy mining gear and jumped onto a train that took us down into the mines

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The tour lasted about an hour. It was pretty interesting. We learned about how salt is mined (not as boring as you may think).

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We also got to slide down this massive wooden slide that they have down in the mines. I’m wondering if the miners are really working down there, or if they just screw around on the slide when the tourists aren’t there. Maybe they have other fun stuff like monkey bars down there. Probably not. As we learned on the tour, mining is really hard and dangerous work.

There was also a lake down in the mine, and we took a boat across.

4:30 – All of this mining worked up an appetite, so the tour group hit a café across the street for a snack.

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So we’re not used to this food/travel blogging thing, and we kept forgetting to take pictures before eating. Kate had a bowl of tomato soup, while I decided to drink my snack.

5:00 – We left the little mining town on our tour bus, and headed back to Salzburg.

6:00 – Naptime for Kate. Here was our second spouse time out of the day. Kate took a nap for about an hour, and I went back down to the hotel lobby and checked email and got caught up on work.

7:00 – Naptime and work time are both over, so now it’s dinner time.

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We decided to go to the local beer hall [insert link http://www.visit-salzburg.net/sights/muellnerbraeu.htm]

At first we were worried about smoke, but the good news is that they have a non-smoking room, as well as a couple of smoking rooms, so we were able to save our lungs.

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The beer drinking process is a little difficult to follow. You start by picking out your own stein – either .5L or 1 liter. I went with the one liter option, because I have little to no self control. Kate went with a Fanta. Prices were not too bad – about 5 euro for a liter of beer. Seems reasonable to me. No idea what kind of beer it was, but it was good.

8:00 – Time to get some healthy food to go with our beer and Fanta. Kate went with a plate of fries. I went with something that looked like a hot dog. If you haven’t been to Austria or Germany, their Wiener stands are pretty hilarious. They’ll have eight color photos of different food options, which all look like the same damn hot dog to tourists. I chose #6.

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9:00 – Keeping with my theme of no self control, it was time for round 2. Another liter of the good stuff for me, and another Fanta for the lady.

Editors Note: Kate would typically be keeping up with me in the beer department, but she’s a baby-mama-to be, so no beer for her for the next six months or so.  (HungryWanderers’ note:  Congratulations!!!)

schnitzel and roll

9:15 – The hunger comes back, so we go with some schnitzel and a pretzel roll.

9:30 – We meet up with another American couple who we met on The Sound of Music Tour. We finished our drinks making idle chit chat. Again, I was a couple of liters in, so I doubt the conversation was too deep.

10:00 – We walk back to the hotel and call it a night. All in all, a pretty good day.

We had a great time in Salzburg, and recommend it to anyone looking for a quaint town with lots of history and great scenery. Thanks to the Hungry Wanderers for letting us post about our trip – happy wandering!

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Which beer to choose?!?! Happy Hour at Yard House

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on May 16, 2010

Friday night, the Husband, his dad and I met up with our friends D & S for happy hour at the Yard House (note – the link doesn’t seem to work in Chrome but works fine in IE).  We’d received a recommendation to check it out and between the huge beer selection and good happy hour food specials, we couldn’t pass it up.  After checking out the reviews on Urbanspoon, the consensus seemed to be that if we’re going, Happy Hour is the time to check it out.  It’s only from 3-6pm so since we had to work, we decided to meet between 4:30 and 5 to get a handful of appetizers and beers before the happy hour prices ended.

It’s located in the Town Square Las Vegas (which is where Frye’s is as a point of reference).  We were impressed with the area, with lots of shops and restaurants, but it took us a while to find it.  We got to the point where we asked someone, when we happened to be actually right in front of it 🙂

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As soon as you walk in the restaurant, you can see a room that has a number of the kegs for the restaurant.  There are more than 100 beers on tap! IMG_3005 When we arrived, we decided to wait a few minutes to get a table to wait for our friends.  We had the option of being seated immediately inside the restaurant or to wait an hour for an outdoor table.  Since happy hour would be over by then, we definitely went for a table.  While we waited for our friends, though, I admired their very leafy waiting area.  IMG_3009 Do you see all those taps? That’s only 1/4 of them!

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The restaurant had good sized booths and lots of tables.  The entire bar, which was huge, had seats all the way around as well.  There were many, many tvs showing different sporting events (basketball and hockey that night), so this seems like potentially a good sports bar, especially if you want to keep track of multiple games at once.

IMG_3022 We looked over the full menu quickly but headed straight to the happy hour menu on the inside back cover.IMG_3011

IMG_3012 As you can see, the happy hour specials are pretty good and available five nights a week and then again late night 4 nights a week.

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IMG_3015 Then there’s the beer menu… it’s HUGE!  At first I didn’t know what to order… when the waiter Danny (Daniel?) asked what I liked, I advised I like everything except IPAs so that didn’t really narrow things down too much 🙂 He’s had every beer on the menu and was able to provide some recommendations as we talked through the list a bit.

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IMG_3017 D&S still hadn’t arrived yet, so the Husband, his dad, and I went ahead and ordered beers while we waited.  From left to right, the Husband had a Lost Coast Indica (IPA), I had the Fuller’s London Porter, and his dad had the Kronenbourg 1664.  Yum!IMG_3020 Our friends, when they arrived not too much longer, each ordered a Rogue Dead Guy Ale. The menu noted that there were “six packs” available.  When we asked what those were, we learned they were Yard House’s version of a sampler.  However, instead of choosing which samples you get, they have two pre-set ones available.  The Husband and I decided to split one later in the evening and when with Sampler #1 of the night.  From left to right, starting at the bottom row and then coming back to the top left beer we had: Lost Coast Raspberry Brown, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat, Paulaner Hefeweizen, Modelo Especial, Negro Modelo, and Firestone Pale Ale. IMG_3024 The two Lost Coast fruity beers both had a very strong fruity nose.  I preferred the Tangerine to the Raspberry.  I loved the Paulaner and enjoyed the Negro Modelo while the Husband enjoyed the Firestone and the Modelo Especial.  I really enjoy sharing samplers with him 🙂

Time for the appetizers! We decided to get a number to share.  Although many of the online reviews didn’t think much of the food, we were quite impressed with the appetizers.

The first to the table was the Chicken Nachos.  Pretty much what you expect in chicken nachos so I won’t bore you with the ingredients.  It was layered well.

IMG_3025 Next on the table was the Seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi.  It was very peppery on the outside and perfectly seared.  It was on top of a soy glaze, I believe and had the traditional sushi sides of ginger and wasabi.

IMG_3026 An appetizer recommended by our waiter was the Spinach Cheese Dip. This was fantastic and we ended up ordering another!

IMG_3027 Instead of getting any main courses, we also ordered two orders of the Traditional Sliders.  They were basically ground beef and cheese on soft rolls with a side of perfectly crisp fries.  Tasted better than they look in this photo.

IMG_3028 Overall, we were quite impressed with happy hour.  Our waiter was very knowledgeable and friendly and gave great recommendations.  The service across the board was great.  All of the staff we dealt with were friendly and helpful.  The food was good and the drinks were refreshing.

I will note though that the regular prices of the appetizers (we got them half price since it was happy hour) are not worth it in my mind, mostly because I believe appetizers shouldn’t be more than $10 a plate unless they’re a sampler.  Most of the appetizer regular prices were $12-$15.

As I mentioned before, we didn’t get any entrees, but they seemed more reasonably priced for entrees.  We will definitely be back as there is a mac n cheese on the menu that looks delish! Plus we have so many more beers to try 🙂 For those of you outside of Las Vegas, here is where they’re located in other cities.

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Yard House on Urbanspoon

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Tyber Creek Pub

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on May 11, 2010

*Note* I wrote this post before we moved but wanted to try to post the move posts as we went along.  While I wait for the SD card to get back here, you’ll see some older, unpublished Charlotte posts to fill your time.  Enjoy! 🙂

Nearly every time we drive through South End, heading north on South Blvd, the Husband smiles as he passes Tyber Creek Pub.  We first checked this pub out way back in the beginning of our time in Charlotte, well before we started the blog, and we didn’t make it back often enough for the Husband.  When we were trying to decide on a place to go with friends on one of our last night’s in Charlotte, he suggested we head here so we could finally get it on the blog.

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Tyber Creek Pub is known for its $2 Guinness Draughts – all day, every day.  Not being big Guinness drinkers, we’ve never really benefited from it, but we have been able to enjoy their beer list from time to time.

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During this visit, they were out of the Sweetwater 420 (one of the Husband’s faves) so he had a Sierra Nevada and later into the evening a Bad Penny.  I stuck to water this time around.

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Tyber Creek Pub is situated on a corner on South Blvd, hidden a bit down a hill and behind some trees.  They have a decent sized patio out front and it’s relatively quiet even though it’s near the street.  There’s an outdoor bar, but we haven’t been there often enough to see it actually functioning (I assume there’s a bartender outside from time to time).

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The menu itself is small but sufficient for a pub.  There’s a page of tasty pub appetizers and I don’t recall disliking any of them.

IMG_2217 Inside the menu, you can select from sandwiches, pizza, and salads.

IMG_2218After enjoying good company, the group decided that they were starting to get hungry (me in particular without beer to distract me).  I ordered a Chicken Quesadilla to start and shared it with the Husband.  We were actually quite impressed with how good this was! Something about the cheese was quite wonderful.IMG_2221 When we planned this outing, there was no doubt about what the Husband would want to order – the Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  It has spicy marinara, cheese, buffalo chicken, and a ranch sauce.  This pizza is fabulous – one we’ll definitely miss.

IMG_2222 Look how tasty that looks 🙂IMG_2223 From our handful of times dining here, I don’t think there’s anything we don’t recommend.  If you’re looking for a pub with pretty good pub food (especially if you like Guinness), we recommend Tyber Creek Pub!

Tyber Creek Pub on Urbanspoon

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