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Chicagoist's Beer Of The Week: Half Acre's 'Van Horn'

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Jan 18, 2013 8:40PM

2013_1_18_vanhorn.jpgWhen we spoke to them about opening their tap room a few months back, the good folks at Half Acre Beer Company told us that they'd be brewing a few new beers over the next year that would only be available on draft, and that certain brews would only be sent out to the masses in very limited quantities while they were pouring at the brewery. We found one of those brews this week when we sipped a pint of the freshly released 'Van Horn.'

Van Horn is Half Acre's take on an English-Style Bitter. It's copper-amber in color, and we get a nice whiff of lemongrass on the nose. On the palate, it's very malt forward with hints of fresh baked biscuits and a touch of toffee-like caramelization and nuttiness. There's a brisk acidity to it, with an earthy hop profile that's almost reminiscent of herbal tea and some underlying notes of tropical fruits and peppery spice. At 5.8 percent alcohol content, Van Horn is clean and crisp, and a fantastic representation of a classic style.

The English Style of Bitter is confusing to a lot of people at first. The main reason for this is that most Bitters aren't actually very bitter at all, especially when you compare them to the pale ales and IPAs that have become very popular with American Craft Brewers. While the style of Bitter is a broad one, most of the classic representations we see are deep blonde to medium amber in color, malt forward with an emphasis on toasty grains, and relatively low in alcohol content. These beers are essentially the national drink of England, where they might be enjoyed at any hour of the day. They're incredibly food friendly, and great with just about any sandwich you can throw at them because they stand up to condiments very well without being overpowering.

Try the Van Horn on tap at the Local Option this weekend, or grab a pint and/or a growler up at the Half Acre Brewery in Lincoln Square.