Aces & Ates - Big Boss Brewing

Not Rated.
Aces & AtesAces & Ates

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BA SCORE
88
very good

78 Reviews
THE BROS
92
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 78
Hads: 185
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 9.09%
Wants: 21
Gots: 19 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Big Boss Brewing visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
American Stout |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BitterLover on 01-31-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 78 | Hads: 185
Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Big Boss Brewing, Raleigh, NC

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin tan head that took a long time to fade away.
S: There are moderate aromas of coffee beans in the nose along with notes of chocolate.
T: The taste is similar to the nose and also has some hints of vanilla beans.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is a great one to sip and savor. (445 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.17/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrives with a creamy tan head that sits atop the tawny-highlighted pitch black liquid and literally sheets the pint glass with lace

Smell: Fresh roasted coffee beans with undertones of dark chocolate

Taste: Roast and dark chocolate, up front, with developing layers of caramel, vanilla and black bread; just before the swallow there is a hint of graininess that continues to develop, along with the coffee tones, in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; somewhat creamy

Drinkability: Nicely balanced and roasty; a very nice coffee stout indeed (595 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have learned a few lessons about coffee stouts over the years. Don't let them be the last beer of the night-- There's usually a lot of coffee in these. That's why I'm hitting this one at noon.

The beer is a wonderfully American Stout with a lot of roasted and toasted grain aroma and flavors. Never astringent or ashy, but with a great coffee, nutty, toast taste even without the added coffee. Not much in the way of fruitiness or peppery phenols, this beer is pretty clean with the charred grains and cocoa powder. The added coffee gives a clean Columbian coffee that compliments the nuttiness but never gets into the French Roast or espresso flavors that would otherwise dominate the beer.

The body is quite modest and sessionable despite such bit flavors. The finish is none other than the long linger of coffee. Alcohols are light throughout. The beer was very tasty and bold flavored but not overbearing with chewiness or aggression. (942 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle 1971/5000. Black coffee black with miniscule margins of coppery burnt orange. The pale caramel colored crown has a tight texture, takes several minutes to lose half its initial height and does an acceptable job of decorating the pint glass. A & A looks the part...

... and smells the part. There's a beautiful, complementary balance between roasted java beans and bittersweet chocolate-like roasted malt, which bodes well for the flavor profile. Let's see if Big Boss can pull off a praiseworthy version of this increasingly popular style of stout.

Whoa! What the hell happened to all the malt? A limited release stout with an ABV of 8.0% should not feel like a 4.5% porter. The beer's lack of size has the usual negative effect on strength and depth of flavor. What's appreciated is decent, it just needs a whole lot more in the way of malty guts.

Like the nose, the taste is appropriately simple... roasted malt and black coffee in roughly equal measure. There's a light char and a small splash of vanilla as well. Malt sweetness is on the low end... and hop bitterness isn't much more prominent. There's no hook here. Nothing to keep the craft beer aficionado coming back for another sip.

The mouthfeel is thin, thinner, thinnest. It's been a while since I've seen a beer of this ABV be this light. The bubbles have a lackluster feel and drag down enjoyability another peg or two.

If Big Boss Aces & Ates was a low-ABV coffee porter, it would have earned higher scores all around. The moral of the story is that if a brewery sets the bar high, they better make every effort to clear it. Unfortunately, this (not very) limited release isn't in any danger of doing that. (1,683 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks have to be given to a wonderful trade who sent this one my way. A local brewer to which I was not able to get a hold of, needless to say I was thrilled to finally be trying this one. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/30/2009.



The pour was very, very nice. Rich dark black in color with no light shining through whatsoever. A very large head of tan came up over the top, sticking around for a few minutes before settling back down to earth. The whole while dropping some nice side glass lacing and never really leaving a bare top at all. The aroma was rich coffee as one might imagine, but interlaced with nice notes of roasted malts and hints of light vanilla. All ABV was well hidden as the subtle and sweet roasted coffee notes were all that I was really picking up. Smooth, even carbonation was a hallmark and a highlight here. Really wonderfully put together as the coffee was brilliantly placed, not being over the top or over shining the hallmark of a very nice stout which lie beneath it. Quick, clean and effective finish here as the molasses like notes mingle with a light bitterness that thoroughly coats the tongue and leaves you looking for more.



Overall a very, very solid coffee stout here and up there with some of the better ones that I have had. I would have no issue at all with looking for this one again some day soon. (1,397 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Vintage 301 here in Greensboro.Poured into a standard pint glass a a near jet black except for some ruby highlights when held into the light,a thinner but well retained light mocha colored head.Aromas of heavy roast and molasses really stood out along with faint bitter chocolate.Dark roast coffee flavors with a bit of a bitter chocolate tinge on the palate,quite earthy and dry in the finish.A little sharp in the mouth but its a solid big coffee stout. (465 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.53/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this, Richard.

Pours almost black in color with minimal head formation. The nose definitely has quite a bit of coffee to it. There's also a lot of roasted malt, dark chocolate, and a bit of charred character. The flavor is a bit thin and mild compared to the nose. Some good coffee notes and a decent roastiness, but that's about it. Maybe some cocoa powder. The body is sort of disappointingly thin as well. (428 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.71/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a jet black body with a full, though short-lived mocha-colored head.

Smell: Aroma of roasted malts, spent dark grains, and cold, abandoned coffee in a glass decanter.

Taste: Highly roasted coffee and dark malts with a touch of graininess. Some hints of dark chocolate with only a minor amount of sweetness. Mostly, the bitterness is supplied by the roasted grains and coffee beans. This beer doesn't just boast the roast, it brings it, baby! Roast-driven finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Mild carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Hmm, it's pretty good, you know? Hope you like roast, though!

Update: Sampled 3/14/09 giving a comparable score, but, now bottled under the Aces & Ates moniker, I noticed a slightly dialed down roast component, allowing for lighter tastes of licorice and molasses to emerge. (836 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Horniblow's Tavern (Raleigh, NC).

Pours a pitch black with a thin wispy tan head that retained nicely into a creamy ring around the rim of the glass but not much lace was left behind. The aroma is definitely that of a coffee stout. Rich with roasted malt, coffee bitterness, smokiness, and some residual chocolate sweetness in the background.

The taste is more of the same, with burnt coffee bitterness and roasted smoky malts that are tempered by chocolate sweetness. Finishes with burnt bitterness that gives way to a splash of sweetness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy with a poppy carbonation that really accentuates the bitterness. That 8% ABV is nowwhere to be found.

This was my first experience with a Big Boss beer and it was a good one. It's definitely more of a burnt and bitter coffee stout experience than others but if you like your coffee black, than this is definitely the one for you. The easy going mouthfeel and nonexistent feeling ABV really make this one a pleasure to quaff. And to think that I had my sense of smell and taste dulled from all the smoke in the Tavern and I still really liked this. Who knows what I would have thought in a non-polluted environment! (1,213 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours completely black with a thin tan head. Nose is coffee yes, but some dark chocolate in there as well. Better after warming up a bit. Flavor is thickly malted with a consistent and very present coffee tone. Again. Better as it warms. It seems to mature a bit. Even and consistent delivery. Feel is a bit thick on liquid and the carbonation is slightly lower which helps keeps things going. It's very drinkable. Not really blowing me away or anything. But maybe that is because I had the Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout yesterday which was only a few days old at that point and über fresh. (595 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to jefferson for sending me a couple of these bad boys. Served in my trusty Surly pint glass.

A - Pours a super dark brown, almost impervious to light, with a big mocha foam that recedes at a leisurely pace and leaves a dime-sized head that doesn't really go away. Nice lacing on the sides of the glass. A tiny bit more retention and this would have been perfect.

S - Surprise! A Coffee stout that isn't a coffee bomb! Good balance between malt sweetness and coffee with a hefty amount of cream & sugar, as well as some vanilla extract. The smell is more evocative of a café mocha - a mix of hot chocolate and French roast.

T - This is where the more bitter roast coffee flavor kicks in. I think a little bit of excitement is lost from the smell. There's still a nice balance of roast malt sweetness and coffee, but the vanilla and chocolate notes recede into the background.

M - Umm...why is this called a stout? This has the mouthfeel of a porter. If it'd been called a porter on the bottle I would have given it an extra .5, due to differing expectations. A little to thin and watery, with a surprising amount of carbonation. The tingle is a nice complement to the coffee bitterness, but I don't find the body big enough to support the flavor. One positive is the lack of that persistent bitter coffee aftertaste.

D - You can't taste the 8% at all, and the low viscosity actually makes it kind of chuggable. My wife and I split a bomber no problem, and could have downed another afterward.

It's definitely a more distinct coffee stout, but as much for the surprising texture as it is for the excellent balance of sweet and bitter. I don't think it's quite in the league of Founder's Breakfast, but it's an excellent brew nonetheless. (1,751 characters)

Photo of dbrauneis
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Ridgewood Wine and Beer in Raleigh, NC

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with some very light reddish brown highlights when held up to the lights and minimal amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that slowly reduces to a thick film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a slightly thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of coffee beans, freshly ground coffee, and just a hint of chocolate over some lighter roasted malts.

T: The flavors starts out with a light amount of roasted malts underneath some moderate flavors of freshly ground coffee and bittersweet chocolate. There are light notes of vanilla as the beer warms.

M: Medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Very smooth and creamy.

O: This beer is quite easy to drink and is very enjoyable with nice amounts of coffee and chocolate flavors - I really like the hint of vanilla as it warms up. One of my favorite local Raleigh beers to enjoy in the winter. (1,072 characters)

Photo of tdm168
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tap City in Raleigh.

From Notes:
Pours a deep black, with a quarter inch of head which sticks around. Smells of coffee and roasted malt. The coffee and roasted malt come through strong again in the taste. Finishes clean with no hint of the 8% ABV. I thought the mouthfeel was a little thin. Overall a great beer. Big Boss should quit bottling their regulars and get their other offerings into a more constant rotation. (429 characters)

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at Horniblow's Tavern in Raleigh. The beer is dark black a 1-finger creamy tan foam. The smell is good for a coffee stout, some roasted malts but mostly the dark bean comes through. The taste is likewise good, coffee bean plus sweet malt. My only issue was that the mouthfeel was way too light for the style, very watery. I'd prefer a more substantial body to match the strength of the flavor. (411 characters)

Photo of glid02
3.92/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours black with a half-finger dark tan head. The head recedes fairly quickly into a wispy layer on top leaving light lacing.

Smells of roasted coffee with roasted malt aromas lurking in the background. As it warms the coffee aromas fade, though not much.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Roasted coffee flavors up front, with a good deal of roasted malt flavors giving it more body. The ending is pretty bitter. I would prefer a bit more complexity, but as it is it tastes above average.

Mouthfeel is good. It's a bit on the thin side, but solid carbonation still makes it go down smoothly.

Drinkability is good. I finished one glass and then another. I could drink a few of these.

Overall this is a solid coffee stout, though it has a way to go before it can be considered great. Still, worth a shot, especially if you're a big fan of coffee stouts. (911 characters)

Photo of rudzud
2.7/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Received as an extra in a trade an dpoured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice dark brown porter like hue with a nice one finger mocha head that fades to leave a thin thin blanket and light cloud. Solid.

S - Uhh..what? I get no coffee whatsoever on the nose. Light alcohol and metallic notes, a really weird lightly minty note and well, a ceramic pot kind of thing going on. Maybe slightly spoiled...just a mess of weird off aromas that I cannot find the right words to describe. Maybe some vegetative stuff too...

T - Taste is well, average. Those weird, strange aromas are fortunately not in the taste. I get light bakers chocolate, faint older coffee. Sweet black watered down coffee. Lightly bitter on the finish. Pretty average 1-2 punch going on.

M - Mouthfeel is not nearly as creamy as I would like for the style. Somewhat watery, alcohol is hidden though.

O - Overall, this beer was okay. As average as everything was that nose was just awful. Lots of weird off aromas going on here, glad it didn't taste like it but still, pretty meh. (1,051 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
3.86/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, delivered to me by Blackie

#32/5000

"aces and ates" - the marketing director of big boss should probably be terminated

appearance: poured into a hopleaf tulip, big bold mahogany body with a thick chocolate foam and foamy lacing retention

smell: im not getting "huge" coffee aromas as many others have described...dry malt, milk chocolate, light coffee roast

taste: I like this stout quite a bit but am totally underwhelmed by the coffee presence. This doesnt really even come close to lining up with some competitors (tyranena, central waters, bells) in the coffee component...I get more creamy chocolate than anything, with light tones of coffee roast, burnt espresso, dark chocolate

mouthfeel: foamy and actually rather light

drinkability: just dandy (772 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from tap into a sampler tumbler. Poured black with a minimal light tan head. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of slightly roasted malt and dark chocolate. The flavor was of slightly roasted malt, dark chocolate, and cream. It had a medium feel on the palate with low carbonation. Overall this was a pretty nice brew. Had a good flavor going on here. The aroma however was definitely lacking in intensity. Went down really nice and smooth for an 8%er. 8%er!? Wow, that is the first time I noticed the alcohol on this one... Never would have guessed. Could see it getting you in trouble quite easily. (641 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +1%

Beer #5 in an NC beers only tasting, thanks to Benny (styleisking).

[Appearance: 3.75] This is a big, thick and rich-looking stout, and it has the look. It's very, very close to black with a heavier viscosity. The one thing lacking is a strong presence from the tan head, but only enough to keep it from showing off its beauty as much as it could. There's a creamy cling to the stretching lace.
[Aroma: 3.75] Coffee could be a little stronger but puts up some earth and hearty roast. Some almost fudgy cocoa comes in with a little creamy sweetness that ends with char.
[Flavor: 4.25] Coffee is more pronounced, fresh grounds of a good, strong brew that's both earthy and creamy with a not-quite-smoky sweetness. Coming in behind are some toffee, caramel, fig and something like black cherry along with an almost blackstrap note. A little char comes in at just the right level without being overdone to tie in the sweetness and add its own depth.
[Mouthfeel: 4.0] It starts off smooth and stays that way while adding just a little bit of bite to the tongue. Carbonation is light to moderate, and alcohol tames the thickness without thinning too much. A light dryness comes into the finish. (1,197 characters)

Photo of gford217
3.32/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bottle courtesy of OldStyleCubFan poured into a snifter.

Pours almost completely black in the glass underneath a one inch rocky tan head that dissipates to a small swirl and collar fairly quickly. Lacing is minimal.

The aroma is very good with lots of dark roasted chocolate malts with enough coffee to make me notice it, but not enough to overpower everything else.

The taste just didn't live up to the nose for me. It was dominated by a dry tangy bitterness (presumably from espresso) that was fairly offputting. There is some dark roasted malts and hints of coffee and chocolate, but the astringent bitterness is tough to get through.

The mouthfeel is velvety smooth with good carbonation and very soft on the palate.

I was expecting good things from this one and the smell was nice, however I wasn't all that impressed with the taste. It seemed fairly one dimensional and that one dimension, coffee, was a little too bitter in its presentation. Anyway, not a bad beer but not one I would go back to. (1,013 characters)

Photo of Bung
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Solid black pour, just a ring of off white head around the glass. Aroma is mostly espresso, some roast malt and cocoa. Taste followed suit, pretty straight forward. Mocha latte, just enough licorice and hop to off set. Medium body, but a bit light for the style. However this contributed to it being rather drinkable, and went very well with my barbeque beef rib. Would recommend and a good coffee stout, not ground breaking, but the best I've had from Big Boss. Will have again. (479 characters)

Photo of blackie
4.37/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: The beer is tar black in color, with a respectable mocha colored head atop.

s: Fresh dark roast coffee seamlessly blended with a slew of sweet, chocolaty roasted barley.

m: Ultra smooth, low carbonation with a full, slick body.

t: As in the aroma, the coffee flavors have been perfectly blended with what seems to have been an already excellent double stout. Dark, low acid coffee flavors compliment the moderately sweet, roasted flavors of barley and bitter chocolate.

d: A great beer and certainly a pleasure. I think I'd take this one over even the excellent Bell's Java, the only thing I can really compare it to.

pint at Horniblow's (645 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
2.48/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to injuredreserve for sharing!

2008 vintage. From Notes:

Fairly black pour, maybe a half a finger of slight mocha colored head.

Aroma is faint coffee, butterscotch, mild sweetness with a hint of tart thrown in there.

Taste had a bit more coffee than the aroma, some roasted, some metallic notes and some of that back-end tartness.

Thin and watery feel, low to no carbonation at all.

Drinkability is a challenge to say the least.

I think this boils down to age not doing this thing a bit of good, or poor storage. The feel ruins this completely and the lackluster taste and aromas can't save it for me.

Would love to see how a fresh one fares... (664 characters)

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #61 (Feb 2012):

LOOK: Pitch black, brown head

SMELL: Creamed coffee, charcoal, burnt currants, cocoa powder, dark brown sugar, brownie batter

TASTE: Silky smooth, full body, burnt sugar, dark-roasted coffee, charcoal, warming alcohol, figs, unsweetened dark chocolate, roasty finish

Whoa! This is a serious coffee beer for serious beer drinkers. Old-school robust Stout talk up front and just enough coffee to back it up—and a very well-balanced 8-percent beer to boot. Further proof that beer geeks should be looking to North Carolina for great craft beer. (596 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle had been in the back of my fridge for eight months.. Pours an inky, dark, and viscous, black body with an impressive light brown head that towers over the opaque body. Good retention and some patchy lace.

Aroma of roasted coffee, cocoa, dark roasted malts, and some vanilla.

Medium body is smoother than expected. Low medium carbonation.

Taste has a roast coffee dominance. Vanilla sweetness softens the bitterness of the dark roasted malts. Earthy hops add complexity. Alcohol is well hidden. Espresso aftertaste.

Very solid and well crafted. Vanilla notes really evened out the biterness of the coffee. Nice! (630 characters)

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Aces & Ates from Big Boss Brewing
88 out of 100 based on 78 ratings.