Heavy In the Air | Half Acre
When you hear Half Acre’s name, you immediately think pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs. And for good reason. Beers like Daisy Cutter, Gone Away, and Vallejo are institutions in Chicago craft beer, right by beers like Anti-Hero and (a long time ago) 312. But Half Acre has started branching out into other styles considerably. Their barrel-aging program, featuring things like Orin, the Benthic series and Catch Hell, has become a force. Meanwhile, their “wyld” beers have gained recognition from FoBAB and have increased in frequency of release. The wyld beers also allow Half Acre to do some nifty collabs, such as this one with Burial Beer Co. out of Asheville, North Carolina called Heavy In the Air.
The wyld beers really began back in 2017 with the release of Virga from Heavy Gem, a collaboration between Half Acre and Tired Hands. Slowly but surely Half Acre built up their barrel stock, added the Balmoral location, and started releasing more and more wyld beers. Unfortunately, the wyld beers almost always stay brewery-only for purchase, so getting them requires a trip to Half Acre to purchase. Like many other wild beers, bottles don’t come cheap. While not the most expensive of the style, you can still grab a 4-pack of most of their other beers for the same price.
Heavy In the Air is a mixed culture lager North Carolina malt and Wisconsin honey. Additionally, it sat in Chardonnay barrels for 12 months and then sat on honey dew, cantaloupe, and canary melons from Seedling Farms. So definitely much more complex than a simple lager.
Heavy In the Air pours almost as you would expect a lager to pour – clear and golden. About a finger of white head evaporates layer by layer, much like a soda does. Not much else to say here other than it looks lovely.
Between the fruit it refermented on and the wild yeasts involved, I went in expecting some fruity bits and Heavy In the Air delivered. Lychee hit first, followed by apple and pear. Two more exotic fruits that I’ve only really had in beer – passion fruit and dragon fruit – showed up next, followed by a healthy amount of cantaloupe and melon. I’m going to guess some lactobacillus was used in making this beer, as I got a heavy noseful of yogurt. Hopefully it’s just my nose.
The flavors coming off Heavy In the Air micic the nose. Dragon fruit, passion fruit, cantaloupe and melon all feature prominently along with a big shot of lemon. The entire sip comes off on the sour side of things at first but after drinking it for a bit it settles into a tart groove, although it might be too tart/sour for some. It finishes a bit dry, but not nearly as dry as I thought it would being labeled a lager. The medium carbonation really leaves a ton of the fruit on the palate after the sip, but things progress nicely.
Remember that yogurt aroma? Unfortunately, it shows up in Heavy In the Air big time. I’m not a yogurt boy by any means but I don’t mind a little bit of it in certain beers. Here it features prominently to the detriment of the beer in my opinion. In addition to the taste, it weighs the beer down a bit, making it drink bigger than its 6.7% ABV. Quite honestly after finishing what I poured in my glass, I didn’t want any more. I was full.
Everything about this beer points toward being a banger. A bouquet of fruits and a lovely tartness highlight everything good about Heavy In the Air. For me it’s the lactic acid yogurt taste that really throws it off for me. If you either like yogurt more than I do or don’t mind a lot of it present in your beer, then Heavy In the Air will be a winner for you. Just don’t go in expecting something light and crisp.
Most (if not all) of Half Acre’s Wyld beers are available only at the Balmoral brewery. Visit Half Acre’s website to see what beers they have available to go, including other Wyld beers and Keeping Together.