Half Acre Beer Co., the maker of Daisy Cutter and one of the city’s most successful breweries, is leaving its North Center home after 13 years. Half Acre has sold its space to Hop Butcher For The World, a fellow Chicago brewery that’s lusted for its own taproom for years. The breweries will finalize the sale in October, according to a news release. The brewpub has remained closed since March 2020.
The move marks a milestone for North Center and Chicago’s beer scene. Half Acre, which has since opened a larger production facility with brewpub and beer garden on Balmoral, had outgrown its tiny location at 4257 N. Lincoln Avenue. The deal allows Hop Butcher to make more beer and have a consumer-facing space to showcase its lineup. Half Acre can then focus on its Balmoral facility where it ships out beer across the country.
Hop Butcher, a brewery that opened in 2014, focuses on unique IPAs like Blazed Orange (a milkshake double IPA with vanilla and orange), lagers, and stouts. They’ll put their own spin on the space. Hop Butcher’s Jeremiah Zimmer tells Eater that it’s too soon to share what they have planned in terms of food, as he and co-founder Jude La Rose will wait until the fall to open. But they have “all intentions of getting into that kitchen with the same vigor we approach our beers though.”
Back in 2008, breweries in Chicago remained a novelty, a place seen reserved for beer nerds. Half Acre would helped disintegrate that myth allowing friends to gather while playing boardgames and giving parents a little serenity by providing a space to bring their small children while enjoying a few pints. While that happened, Half Acre would hook customers with special brews in foeders and rare releases like Big Hugs and Benthic imperial stouts. Brewery taprooms slowly emerged as competition to taverns.
Half Acre would eventually bring in veteran chef Nick Lacasse to create a brewpub menu with pad Thai burritos and “science cheese” nachos. The food’s success proved to brewery owners that customers wanted more than typical pub fare and forced them to step up their games. In a way, Half Acre laid the path for the success of Band of Bohemia and Moody Tongue Brewing, the only two brewpubs to receive Michelin stars in America.
“I think our goal was to always be thoughtful about the things we’re doing,” says Half Acre co-founder Gabriel Magliaro, adding that Chicago’s strong restaurant scene makes it difficult to put up a bad food showing.
Magliaro adds Half Acre recently upgraded its kitchen space on Balmoral that will allow it to crank out more elevate food offerings. Before the pandemic, Half Acre announced a collaboration with Big Star, the honky-tonk taco spot in Wicker Park and Wrigleyville, for parent company One Off Hospitality Group to take over food service. The pandemic has killed that deal: “They’re focusing on other stuff,” Magliaro says. “But who knows what lies down the road?”
Half Acre has hired Claire Smyth, a veteran chef who’s worked at Bar Biscay and Eris Brewery & Cider House, to helm its kitchen on Balmoral. They’ll unveil a new menu later this month, Magliaro says. The North Center brewpub has been closed since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020. Stay tuned for updates on Hop Butcher’s opening.
The Tribune first reported the story.
Hop Butcher For The World brewpub, 4257 N. Lincoln Avenue, planned for an October opening.