UPDATE: A Half Acre rep clarified on Tuesday morning saying they’re shooting for an opening in the second half of August. Full, updated story follows.
After more than two years of anticipation, beer fans cans almost smell the hops as Half Acre Beer Co.’s new taproom and restaurant at 2050 W. Balmoral Ave. approaches an opening date. The venerable brewery should open its new Bowmanville spot to the public sometime in the second half of August, targeting Aug. 19, the date of The Big North, Half Acre’s annual festival.
“We’d like to be open for that,” said Maurizio Fiori, a Half Acre partner and hospitality manager.
It’s forgivable if beer drinkers need a reminder to what Half Acre planned; the brewer announced the project back in the first quarter of 2015. It’s a 100,000-square-foot building that will also house barrels for additional brewing. The restaurant is about twice the size of Half Acre’s taproom in North Center. There will be seating for 120 people, a private dining area with room for 30 and a beer garden with room for another 100.
Guests will be able see the kitchen from the dining area. Chef Nick Lacasse opened a kitchen inside the North Center location in January 2016. A restaurant veteran, Lacasse has taught the brewer much about the restaurant world. Fiori is appreciative of that and Half Acre intends to apply lessons on service and kitchen flow at the new restaurant.
The food at the new restaurant will also be different compared to the taproom’s burritos. Fiori said the a new menu would feature roasted meats and seasonal vegetables. Diners will also see salmon and porchetta on the menu. The items will be available as sharable plates in different sizes or as sandwiches and staff will bake their bread onsite using many of the same ingredients they use in their beer. Expect classic European baguettes and country loaves. The restaurant will also serve weekend brunch.
While North Center was a chance to experiment with the food for Half Acre, the new location will provide space for a beer laboratory of sorts. Back in 2015, founder Gabriel Magliaro said to look out for experimental and small-batch beer.
Fiori described the project as fueled by “high-level thinking.” It’s an ambitious project as Half Acre looks to innovate. They have the resources that other Chicago brewers don’t. They want to expand their reach beyond craft beer fans and also please every-day restaurant-goers. It’s been a long wait, but Half Acre on Balmoral is almost here. Check back for more details in the coming weeks.