This is my favorite time of year for beer drinking, when thoughts of golden ales and IPAs take a seasonal turn to the rich, roasty bounty of porters, stouts and other such imperial goodness. Half Acre’s Chub Step Porter represents a step toward the lineup of winter darker beers. This is the third year Chub Step has been produced, and if you liked it last year, you’re going to like it again this year.
“The goal for this year was to try to duplicate last year’s release exactly,” explained head brewer Matt Gallagher, who gave us some beers to try. “It’s a brewery favorite. It’s not overdone, it’s not 10%. It’s not overhopped.”
In fact, it’s a nice and responsible 6% ABV, edging this beer out of “session” territory and into “drink a handful and nod off in a wingback chair by the fireplace” territory. It pours a deep mahogany brown with the slightest touch of head, and it’s light-bodied, well-balanced and surprisingly restrained with chocolate bars, coffee and maybe a little leather on the nose.
Nothing jumps out at you too much—it’s a little hearty from chocolate malts, a little bitter from a mix of Stygian, Golding and traditional Fuggle hops, a little roasty and a little spicy but not overwhelmingly so. The finish is quite long and kind of coats your palate with a wet gush of roasty bitterness and hints of stone fruits at the very end.
Gallagher’s goal, as he described it, was “to keep it fairly traditional & classic, but with our own little spin on it.” Described on the Half Acre site as “a beer for the shifting seasons,” this is an autumn-only porter, and it makes an excellent segue into heartier winter beers.
Chub Step will be released Friday on draft at the taproom and at other bars around the city. Twenty-two-ounce bottles will be available at the Half Acre factory store. If that’s not enough, a cask of Chub Step with toasted coconut is expected at the taproom’s Firkin Friday event in the near future.
Want to try the beer? Half Acre will be pouring a nitro Chub Step along with other fun things, like a gin barrel-aged pilsner and Quinoa Whiskey Barrel-Aged Lager Town at the taproom’s 1st Anniversary Open House on Monday.
A few more to try
It’s not my favorite example of the style, but it only seems appropriate to track down Wychwood’s Hobgoblin tonight. Find it reliably at the Red Lion Pub on Rockwell; they often have it on cask as well.
While we’re talking about Halloween beers, 5Rabbit’s Vida y Muerte is a good pick. It’s kind of a cross between a harvest and a Marzen with some dulce de leche and Mexican cinnamon thrown in for good measure. Their site recommends you drink it out of a skull and that’s good enough for me.
I can’t vouch for this one personally, but since we’re talking about it, we might as well mention a line of beers new to Chicago specifically called Day of the Dead Beer. It's brewed by Mexican megabrewer Cerveceria Mexicana (who is owned by Molson Coors); Ratebeer has them also listed as the brewers of Ed Hardy Beer, so take that for what it’s worth. Find them at Edgewater Wine & Spirits as well as Addison Liquors, to name a couple places.