The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Art School Now Has A Local Beer Flavor

By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 23, 2015 7:50PM

The label for Harshad, the new beer from Half Acre to celebrate SAIC.

Gabriel Magliaro's path to owning one of the city's most successful breweries started in art school—and now his career is bringing him back there.

"Beer winds up connecting a lot of creative threads," says Magliaro, the owner ofHalf Acre. Magliaro started out as an artist, trained at the School of the Art Institute, before becoming a brewery. And he's returned to his alma mater to create them a special beer for their 150th Anniversary.

Magliaro graduated from SAIC in 2003, and started Half Acre in 2006. He caught the brewing bug in Colorado during a stint there, but found that Chicago didn't have the same robust scene.

"There was Goose [Island] and 3 Floyds, and a couple of brewpubs, but the overall scene was almost non-existent," he says. "I thought I might give it a whirl."

Magliaro's artistic skills came in handy right away, both in creating the actual beer and in creating Half Acre's distinct brand identity, which he remains in charge of to this day.

"Creativity is at the root of it," Magliaro explains. "We, as a brewery, try to creatively connect with our community of people, which is really about Chicago. Our brewery is about a dialogue with Chicago, and allowing ourselves the freedom to explore that relationship."

To celebrate that creativity, and his alma mater's sesquicentennial, he created Harshad, a unique Kolsch-style beer. It's not quite a traditional kolsch; it's lower in alcohol for easier late-summer enjoyment. The name itself contains multiple references. First, it's the sanskrit word for joy seeker, which resonated with Magliaro.

"I think people go to art school and view art when seeking joy," he says.

The name is also a mathematical reference to the school's anniversary. A Harshad number is a number that is divisible by the sum of its digits - and 150 (the school's age) is such a number.

You might recognize the Art Institute's signature lion hiding in the label. The beer debuted at a special event to celebrate the anniversary, and Harshad is now available at Half Acre's North Center brewery in 22 ounce bottles and in their tap room, and will be around until they run out.