Spotlight on Half Day Brewing: This Lincolnshire favorite will draw you in with their lagers and barrel-aged stouts, extensive menu (try the smoked wings) and versatile event spaces
Half Day Brewing Co.
200 Village Green
Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
History in short: The building Half Day calls home used to belong to Flatlander’s Brewing, but it had long since been vacated and sat empty for almost five years before Half Day was opened by a pair of successful restauranteurs — Mark Zych and Scott Ward — in January of 2016. The renovations and buildout process, which at times felt daunting, took just under a year. And due to the timing, the restaurant was actually open before the brewing equipment had been installed.
“We were jackhammering for days,” brewmaster Brandon Boshers, a product of Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, says with a laugh. “It was quite a mess, but it’s cleaned up nice.”
The space: Half Day Brewing offers a lot of opportunities for whatever you’re looking for. Want to sit at the bar, try a flight and catch the game on the TVs overhead? You got it. Meeting co-workers for happy hour and need a high-top table to accommodate everyone? No problem. Planning a private party, ranging from a 10-person family dinner to larger weddings, corporate events or anniversary parties? They’ve got ample space for all of that too — and seating for up to 500.
Planning a private party, ranging from a 10-person family dinner to larger weddings, corporate events or anniversary parties? They’ve got ample space for all of that — and seating for up to 500.
“Our private rooms are down a hallway in a somewhat isolated area, to the point where other patrons wouldn’t even know a party or event was even going on,” Boshers says.
In the main taproom, three massive garage door-style windows open up to a spacious, semi-enclosed patio that’s adorned with string lights year round. Fire pits or fireplace? Take your pick. Half Day offers both.
Interesting note: Half Day Brewing hosts a race on the first Saturday of February called the Frozen 5k — which their Frozen Tundra IPA is a favorite at — along the Des Plaines River trail.
Some years it’s 45 degrees and some years it’s 5 below with two feet of snow on the trail, but the race always happens. “There’s always some kind of weather scenario that makes it all the more fun,” says GM Jeff Zych. “But the party afterward makes it worth it.”
What we’re eating and drinking: The scratch kitchen kicks out a lot of well-designed options, but if you’re wondering what the specialties are, brewery regulars tend to side with the wood-fired pizzas and anything that comes out of the in-house smoker (like the smoked brewhouse wings… definitely try the wings).
A few items that caught our eye were the wood-roasted prime rib sliders, blackened shrimp wrap, beer-battered fish & chips and a truffle farm burger with a fried egg and pickled red onion on top.
As far as the beer is concerned, Half Day boasts some 40 total taps, at least 15 of which are their own, including a handful of decadent barrel-aged stouts. Regular staples include the Lincolnshire Lager, Frozen Tundra American IPA (like a West Coast only slightly sweeter and more aromatic with biscuit characteristics) and a stellar Cloud Cover hazy IPA.
Our lagers have really taken off,” according to Boshers, and their Ela, a fruited smoothie currently with strawberry, is routinely a favorite. They’ve rotated in apricot, passionfruit, blueberry, raspberry and other combinations with their sours.
We took the S’Mores Barrel-Aged Warrior Paint imperial stout home in cans and would recommend it to anyone who favors this style, especially in wintertime. It’s a smooth pastry stout that spent a year in Willet Bourbon barrels. Think creamy honey and graham cracker meeting up with some rich caramel. The peppermint stout made our neighbors happy as well.
Half Day’s lagers “have really taken off,” according to Boshers, and their Ela, a fruited smoothie currently with strawberry, is routinely a favorite. They’ve rotated in apricot, passionfruit, blueberry, raspberry and an assortment of other combinations with their sours.
If someone in your group isn’t in the mood for beer, check out Half Day’s seasonal cocktails or extensive bourbon and wine lists.
Half Day’s Clear the Cellar event calls for many of their vintage barrel-aged beers to be put on draft in the taproom throughout the winter.
On the horizon: Half Day is hosting an ongoing Clear the Cellar event, which calls for many of their vintage barrel-aged beers to be put on draft in the taproom throughout the winter. A drinkable hefeweizen is due out in March, and monthly comedy nights start Jan. 25 (check the website for details).
From the brewery: “We go from experimental recipes to 14-percent barrel-aged pastry stouts to bright IPAs, fruited sours and German lagers. … We like to push the boundaries of traditional styles. Everyday drinkers will find plenty to like, but we’re not afraid to venture out and experiment too.”
— Head brewer Brandon Boshers