Half Acre | Sunset Vallejo
Half Acre releases a lot of variants of their beers now. For a while it seemed like the only two variants that would come every year without fail were Double Daisy Cutter (usually a spring and fall release) and Galactic Double Daisy Cutter (during Chicago Craft Beer Week). Now there seems to be a new take on Daisy Cutter every two months. Big Hugs is sold in packages with the variants. Half Acre now has a robust barrel-aging program, leading to even more variation.
I like to consider myself in the loop on new releases, especially from Chicago breweries. When I went in to purchase the latest Keeping Together beer, there stood Sunset Vallejo. My reaction went from, “Whoa cool a new version of Vallejo.” to, “When the hell did this get released?” Remembering liking Vallejo more and more since we first had it on our can show, I pulled the trigger on getting a 4-pack of it.
Research reveals that Sunset Vallejo is the double IPA big brother to Vallejo that was first released in August 2018. Half Acre typically does not release a ton of information about what’s in the beer itself and Sunset Vallejo is no exception. Half Acre did can this on June 9, 2020 and I consumed on July 4, 2020, so just a hair under a month.
Sunset Vallejo pours a light orange color with a fair amount of head. I can’t see my finger through the beer, so I’ll say this one’s on the hazy side of things. The head reduces to little and big islands of “head puddles” that don’t go away. Candy orange rings and a certain malt sweetness are prominent on the nose. There’s also a big fruit melange backing it up. Strawberry, kiwi, and peach represent. Notes of a fruited sherbet (pick your previously mentioned fruit on that one) come to the front.
Upon first sip it’s clear that this isn’t Vallejo. Sunset Vallejo has a much heavier, almost syrup-like mouthfeel. While starting out fine and leaving the palate quickly, repeated sips linger for longer periods of time. The bitterness acts in the same manner, with a certain pine and grassy note that slowly creeps up and grows over time. The orange remains as the most prominent fruit, while everything else recedes into a fruit medley background. A certain creaminess exists (there’s no lactose) and the malt provides a nice amount of sweetness to balance out the bitterness.
In my notes while drinking Sunset Vallejo I noted that this would be a great beer for the autumn or winter season due to its heavy mouthfeel. Lo and behold on Half Acre’s website, it describes Sunset Vallejo thusly: “As Autumn lands, Sunset Vallejo indicates the natural bleed out of summer.” I consider myself a seasonal drinker. Heavy, hoppy things and stouts during the cold winter months. Refreshing Berliners, IPAs, saisons and lagers during the warm summer months. Sunset Vallejo is definitely more suited to sweaters than shorts. While I would prefer a bit more effervescence to get rid of that syrupy mouthfeel, everything else screams old school DIPA, but for the colder seasons. For now, grab a Vallejo for the rest of the summer months.
Half Acre Sunset Vallejo, as well as the rest of their lineup, can be purchased here.