Beer Review: Captain Fantasy [Half Acre Brewery]

Captain Fantasy [Half Acre Brewery]

Captain Fantasy
Brewery: Half Acre (Chicago, Illinois)
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 7.0%

Named after a Ween song, Captain Fantasy is the second Saison released by Half Acre in the last few weeks. This is the brewery’s second collaboration with Short’s Brewing Company from Bellaire, Michigan (the first being their Freedom of ’78 Pure Guava IPA from earlier this year).

Captain Fantasy is quite a bit different from the previous Dripping Saison. This one was brewed with Sorachi Ace hops as well as pear puree, which is definitely an interesting combination. Upon first tasting, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with the pears. Quite frankly, I have never tasted a beer like this. The pear puree really stands out and gives this a very sweet taste. There is a little bit of spiciness, and the hops push their way in and take over after the initial fruit blast. The finish is a tad bitter, but not overtly so. It’s definitely a unique brew.

All things considered, Captain Fantasy is a solid, refreshing summer beer. I didn’t like this one quite as much as Dripping Saison, but I will give it bonus points for being something unlike anything else I have ever had. Half Acre’s collaborations with Short’s have led to some fun experiments and I hope they continue to work together.

7/10

– Captain Fantasy is available in growlers as well as 22 oz. bombers at the brewery.

Beer Review: Dripping Saison [Half Acre Brewery]

Dripping Saison [Half Acre Brewery]

Dripping Saison
Brewery: Half Acre (Chicago, Illinois)
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 5.7%

A rare midweek release, Half Acre‘s newest beer is the first of two back-to-back Saison offerings. Dripping Saison, as this one is titled, could not have come at a better time. Chicago is getting ready for another major heat wave, one that should be upon us starting tomorrow. Dripping Saison is a perfect summer beer, especially for the hot and humid city days.

The guys at Half Acre usually only maintain one house strain of ale yeast, but recently they got their hands on a new Saison yeast. Hence, the forthcoming focus on these farmhouse ales. It’s great to see the brewery continue to work with new styles, as I don’t remember them brewing any Saisons in the past.

Dripping Saison is a smooth, smooth brew. It has a nice hazy yellow color to it with a brief lacing of head. Its taste brings out immediate notes of bananas with hints of citrus fruits pushing their way in. There is also a bit of tartness that lingers on the tongue. It tastes similar to other Saisons, but its fruity notes make it stand out.

I like this Saison quite a bit. It’s sweet but not overly so, and it goes down real easy. This is a great first effort for the summer, and I can’t wait to see what their upcoming Saison collaboration with Short’s Brewery brings us. Chicago area residents should not hesitate to stop by — Dripping Saison is only available for growler fills, and there’s no telling how long it will last.

8.5/10

Beer Review: Golden Cap Saison Ale [New Holland Brewing Company]

Golden Cap Saison Ale [New Holland Brewing Company]

Golden Cap
Brewery: New Holland Brewing Company (Holland, Michigan)
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 6.25%

Being a former Michigan native, I am very familiar with many of the breweries in the Lower Peninsula. New Holland Brewery, located just outside of Grand Rapids in Holland, is one such locale that I have greatly enjoyed over the years. Yet I didn’t notice until tonight that they had a saison ale available in six pack form. Golden Cap, as it is appropriately titled, is a solid summertime beer that represents another good brew from New Holland.

Golden Cap has a light, hazy color to it and this appearance does a good job of concealing its surprisingly potent 6.25% ABV. The beer is a bit sweeter than most saisons that I have tasted, which can be either a plus or a minus depending on your tastes. The first thing I noticed was a strong presence of peppercorn, even moreso than the Goose Island Pepe Nero I tried recently. The peppercorn dances around on the tongue while hints of citrus sneak in at the same time. This is definitely a saison, but with its own unique twist.

Golden Cap is an easily drinkable beer, although I am slightly offput by its sweetness. I wouldn’t say it is one of the best saisons I have ever had, but it is definitely a good brew, especially for the summer. Another quality effort from the guys at New Holland.

7/10

Pepe Nero [Goose Island Brewery]

Pepe Nero [Goose Island Brewery]

Pepe Nero
Brewery: Goose Island (Chicago, Illinois)
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 6.0%

Pepe Nero is one of Goose Island’s latest beers, and it is one I was initially intrigued about due to its use of black peppercorns in the brewing process. Labeled as a “Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale” by the brewery, this is certainly a unique beer unlikely any other that I have had.

When poured into a glass, the beer has a dark color similar to a cola. Its spicy smell gives hints of what’s to come. It is hard to place all of the different tastes that come out of Pepe Nero. It is spicy, a tad sweet, and definitely roasty. The peppercorn is transparent at first, but it quickly takes over and leaves a lingering presence on the tongue.

This is really a funky beer that has a lot going on at once. While certainly interesting and worth trying, I wouldn’t say Pepe Nero is one of Goose Island’s best offerings. The peppercorn gives it a nice kick, but it doesn’t propel the beer to the next level of quality. If you like peppery tastes and are willing to give an experiment like this a try, it might be in your best interest to pick up a bomber of this. Pepe Nero is good, and I am glad I tried it, but I will likely pass on it in the future in lieu of some of the brewery’s more superior brews.

7/10