To raise awareness for water conservation, Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Company released Pipeline 5 this week. The pale ale, which is only available in the Chicago area, is named after Line 5, the controversial oil pipelines that run beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
Each day more than half a million barrels of oil and liquid petroleum run through the underwater lines, which are operated by Enbridge Energy of Alberta, Canada. The Detroit News reported in April that opposition to the aging pipelines is growing, and that a rupture to the lines could devastate the Great Lakes.
Beer, even craft beer, is made up of mostly water, so it makes sense for Great Lakes-area brewers to have concerns about such pipelines.
“We’re not activists, really, in the greater scheme of things,” says Stephan Mance, lead brewer at Half Acre’s Lincoln Avenue location. “We make beer, but we thought the people who are shedding light on this should get a little more exposure so we’re happy to do our part in terms of getting the message out.”
Mance says the beer, which was brewed about three weeks ago, is a “classic pale ale” that is about 4.5 percent alcohol by volume.
“It’s got a nice golden, straw color from the pale malt, it’s a single malt, and then it had a nice pine-y flavor as well as papaya and passionfruit from the hops,” he says.
Besides being named after the Michigan pipeline, the beer uses hops from Michigan’s Hop Head Farms and malts from Pilot Malt House, which is just south of Grand Rapids. Pipeline 5 will be showcased as part of Chicago’s Craft Beer week, Mance says. (This week is also American Craft Beer Week.)
“We thought it’d be a good chance to work with some smaller companies for raw ingredients that are in the area close to us. We were happy to showcase the ingredients and the name just kind of steps off from that Michigan connection.”
For those in the Chicago area, Pipeline 5 can be purchased at the Half Acre Beer Company’s Tap Room, 4257 N. Lincoln Avenue. It will also be tapped Thursday at Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark in Chicago.