Review By: Cory Smith
During our first trip to The Beer Temple to shoot a couple episodes with Chis Quinn, we knew we couldn’t leave empty handed. In the first episode we shot, I asked him to bring us a beer that was very “Chicago” — a beer that would define the craft beer scene in the Windy City. He brought us Daisy Cutter. Daisy Cutter is one of my favorite beers, and knowing so, Chris guided me to buying another Half Acre can, Akari Shogun.
Akari Shogun is an American Wheat Ale. It is 5.5% ABV, making it almost a session ale by some standards, and is brewed with a hop called Motueka which I’ve never heard of before. Supposedly it gives off big lemon and lime aromas, as well as some earthy spiciness. If you can’t tell, I really don’t have a lot of expectations for Akari Shogun, but if Chris said to get it, I’m sure it’s a winner.
Before I get into the look of the beer, let me talk about this wicked can. One of the great parts of having a canned beer vs a bottled beer is having the room to print on 100% of the can. This one is eye catching, with an ancient warrior/griffin(?) donning the front. I couldn’t find a reason behind the drawing, or why they chose the name, but it’s awesome nonetheless.
Anyway, Akari Shogun is a hazy yellow color. It’s a very pale beer, almost gold in color. The haze looks perfect for a wheat ale; I can see through the beer, but it’s foggy. The head poured about a finger width thick, was brilliantly white, but quickly turned into a lacy film on the surface. This is one of those beers that looks like you dropped a Mentos into Diet Coke, it could explode with effervescence at any minute!
It’s unfair of me to compare one Chicago-made American Wheat Ale to another Chicago-area American Wheat Ale, but Akari Shogun smells a lot like Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. It’s lemony, hoppy, citrusy, almost to the point of a wheat IPA, but not quite. There’s a nice, fruity, ester quality in the aroma, reminiscent of green apples. It smells floral, and has hints of tropical fruits, but that lemongrass quality is the thing I get most. This isn’t a hop bomb, though, notes of biscuity wheat come through, really balancing out the aromas. This is one complex nose!
As a lot of summer beers are, Akari Shogun is very thin. It almost has a watery mouthfeel, but the big carbonation helps keep everything in check. Speaking of the carbonation, this is one of those beers that drinks more like a pop than a naturally-conditioned beer — it gives the body some needed bite. This is one of the easiest drinking beers you’ll find, it just goes down so quickly, but still has a great flavor!
After the aroma and the first taste, I’m convinced that this is Half Acre’s response to Gumballhead. They aren’t identical, but very similar. The first thing I get is a very mild, but complex hop flavor. This doesn’t come close to bordering the level of IPA, but is more like a wheat pale ale. The hops lend a lemony/limey, refreshing, citrus bite to the beer, making it a perfect profile for summer drinking. They used There’s also a slight, resin-like aftertaste, but, again, it’s muted. The malt is understated, leading to a hop-forward profile, but it does have a slightly nutty, grainy flavor.
The more I dig into it, the more I get some really interesting flavors. Things like passionfruit or dragonfruit come out, as well as a saison-like white pepper bite. This beer is extremely complex, and extremely delicious!
So, how did Chris do on his recommendation? Well, he knocked it out of the park. This is a beer that I could only dream of having on a daily basis in Ohio. If I could grab some Akari Shogun on tap at a baseball game, I’d be in heaven. I’m giving Half Acre’s Akari Shogun a 96! Its hoppy profile, paired with its drinkability and great balance make it a no brainer for someone who likes hoppy wheat beers. I do find it very similar to Gumballhead, but that’s not a bad thing at all! Gumballhead is known as an amazing beer, and I think Half Acre has a winner with Akari Shogun. If you come across some this summer, do yourself a favor and pick some up!