Turns out there are two kinds of Tuna available in a can. The first is an always-handy sandwich meat — perfect whipped up with an over-zealously lobbed ball of mayo, a crack of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon, before being liberally applied to thickly hewn white bread. All hail the tuna mayo sando. (OK, I admit I should probably leave the food writing to my colleague Claire Bullen.)
The other is, as you’ve probably suspected, a beer. Tuna Extra Pale Ale happens to be from one of my favourite Chicago-based breweries — Half Acre. If you haven’t heard of these folks, where’ve you been hiding? This Midwestern US brewery has been cooking up sublime beers since its inception in 2008. It’s perhaps best known for its Daisy Cutter Pale Ale — a beer that’s become a true staple amongst fine beverage appreciators in the Windy City. Half Acre’s mastery is one of creating clean, hop-forward beers just like you used to love, and Tuna is no exception to this rule.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the US, and Chicago has to be one of my favourite cities. It takes the culinary arts very seriously — this could be at a top restaurant, a local burger joint, or a brewery — whatever it makes, if you can eat or drink it, it’s gotta be world class. What I admire most about Chicago however, is how it’s able to apply to much effort to the creation of these consumables, but then present them in a laid-back, friendly way.
What I enjoyed most about the brewing scene here is how diverse it felt. There’s not as much bandwagon-hopping and imitation as I’ve seen in other beer destinations. Chicagoans do things their own way, and that often means a brewery will put a lot of effort into producing a unique take on things. This could be the hop gems of Half Acre, the crispy lagers at Dovetail, the tongue twisting mixed fermentation projects at Whiner, or the, well, whatever they want to call it at Off Color. If you love beer, you should visit Chicago as soon as you can.
Back to Tuna, though — this beer pours a bright shade of tangerine from its lovingly designed can, a head of off-white foam enticing you with aromas of barley sugar and navel orange. To taste, there is plenty more of both of these things: a touch of smooth malt sweetness to begin, and then plenty of zesty, citrus notes to clean all that up before leading to a not-too bitter finish. It’s perhaps a little one note, but at 4.7%, that’s kinda the point. Tuna is a beer to fill the fridge with and throw back when you need a hoppy hit that won’t touch the sides.