Half Acre Beer Company

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American Strong Ale
Ranked #45
Ranked #4,725
4.15 | pDev: 8.43%
Half Acre Beer Company
Illinois, United States
Notes: Orin was brewed to pound on the ceiling of lush character and opulence.

Its recipe was an opportunity to introduce the richest raw materials without the confusion of elements you’d find in black beers of similar scale.

An original gravity of 25º Plato begins its cellar course to a terminal 7º Plato. Its total size and depth is amplified by 9 months in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels.

The sum is a 13.7% molasses colored ale that’s gigantic in impact and experience.

Look for it around the end of the year.
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 79 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ovaltine
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a perfect example of why it’s so important to serve a beer at the proper temperature. Right out of the fridge, this is a booze bomb, with the barrel rolling over ..... literally everything on the nose and the taste.

As it warms, though, this mahogany brown beer with a dense tan head is packed with toffee and especially molasses notes to accompany the barrel. Just a magnificent beer from a world-class brewery, IMHO.

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ovaltine from Indiana, Apr 23, 2020
Photo of BlackBeerPirate
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Taste: oak, woody, dark fruit, cherry, sticky malt, warm boozy finish. Same with the nose. dark Mahogany, semi clear, delicate head and refined lace. Medium full body. smooth with a kick in the end.

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Photo of BB1313
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Canned on 9/20/19. 16oz can poured into a tulip. Pours a murky dark brown with mahogany and auburn hues; small khaki head that fades leaving nice retention and lacing. The aromas have a nice amount of bourbon blending well with everything. Lots of caramel and toffee. Dark fruits are there. Some vanilla and coconut. Malts are there. The flavors follow the nose. More caramel and toffee. More dark fruits. Raisins are there. More vanilla and coconut coming from the barrels. The bourbon is bold and isn't shy, but it's still ultimately balanced and accentuates everything that's going on. There's a warmth along with some alcohol notes, but it's not hot or boozy. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's slightly sharp.

This is a great barrel-aged beer. It's extremely bold, but ultimately balanced. The bourbon barrels shine, but don't diminish all of the other flavors and aromas. The craftsmanship and execution is on point. It's highly enjoyable and fun to drink. They nailed this one.

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BB1313 from Ohio, Jan 26, 2020
Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Toffee colored pour with a tan head that recedes quickly leaving a well laced glass.
Bourbon and burnt sugars aroma.
Dates or figs and bourbon taste, overall, a bit sweet.
Nice body and mouthfeel.
Another really good beer from Half Acre!

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ZebulonXZogg from Illinois, Dec 16, 2019
Photo of Lingenbrau
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Joe for the can. Cheers Mang. See you in three weeks.

What a beauty. Deep mahogany, crimson red, with burnt chestnut highlights and great clarity.a khaki pillow that lasts and lightly spackles the glass, atypical of the booze influenced nature.

And it smells boozy too. Quite boozy at first, even moreso as it warms. But, the key is that interim where fig and burned caramel dance around the nostrils. Absolutely delicious smelling.

Plenty of dark fruit hits the tongue first. Fig, plum, red grapes followed by brown sugar, toasted and spiced nuts. Sweet booze and dry oak finish things off just right.

For 13.9%, this bomb is fantastically smooth. A perfect medium feel showcasing both a sweet and sappy start and a dry and bitter finish. While cold it demands sips, at warmth it's dangerously easy to take in almost as shots.

Half Acre continues to go more as. I know they get plenty of attention, but I think they might deserve more. As far as the Chicago beers I've had, Half Acre is in a league of its own.


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Photo of barnzy78
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz can, date stamped 09/20/19, 2019 release: 13.9% ABV. A huge foamy tan head caps a mahogany colored ale; the head holds excellent retention eventually fading to a thin layer of foam while leaving thick lacing on tbe glass. Boozy aroma of bourbon, oak, grain, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. Boozy and sweet sipper with notes of caramel, toffee, toasty grain, molasses, bourbon, oak, vanilla, date, raisin, fig, and earthy hops. Sticky-sweet, thick & creamy body, ample carbonation, booze is warming and a bit hot at times, which is to be expected with this high ABV beer; finish is slightly bitter with peppery booze lingering. Excellent!

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barnzy78 from Illinois, Nov 04, 2019
Photo of Brutaltruth
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the 22 oz bottle in a snifter. This beefy beast pours a muddled
murky brown with a nice head of off white foam that settles to a thick
ring and thin swirling layer with moderate lacing. Nose of heavy bourbon,
vanilla, earthy oak, and dark candy sugars with some dark fruit notes.
Flavors follow the nose with dark candy sugar touched with fig, date, and
a hint of cherry that have been doused in sweet bourbon with touches of vanilla
and oak. Nice mouth feel; medium body is slick and lightly coating, very
warming and a touch strong on the heft of said booze, light carbonation,
and a sweet lightly dry warming finish.

A solid brew from a new to me brewery.
Bought in Columbus I think at Savor Growl.


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Photo of darktronica
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a bomber on a lark after a lunch at Half Acre, and I'm glad I did. It's quite a treat of a strong ale, rich and caramelized with plenty of bourbon spice on the mid-palate to liven things up. Plenty of hop character, but with complementary oxidation, strong malts, and dark stone fruits.

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Photo of AmeriCanadian
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Fantastic beer that reminds me so much of Founders Backwoods Bastard. That’s a high compliment, as BB is one of my very favorite beers.

Enjoyed an 8-ounce pour of the 2017 vintage (supposedly) in a snifter at Brewhouse South in Franklin, TN. Pours a dark, muddy brown with a little mahogany on the edges. Surprisingly well carbonated with a thin, off-white, coffee-esque head of incredibly tightly compact and tiny bubbles that provided a thin film and spotty lacing all the way down the glass. The coloring of the beer is probably the least appealing aspect of the overall package.

Wonderful barrel and malt notes on the nose. Vanilla, toffee, soaked oak, figs, dates, rye bread, dark berry jam, chocolate, and a little hop bite. Really fantastic.

Taste follows right along, with vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, and dark fruits hitting first. There’s a nice sweet layer there, but I wouldn’t call this a sweet beer. There’s balance with some coffee and hop bitterness, lots of earthy and woody notes, with a variety of dried fruits — dates, raisens, currants, even some dark berry preserves — weaving in and out. Tons of toffee, a little sweet licorice, maybe a hint of smokey peat. Very bready with a fairly dry finish. Sweet licorice and hints of chocolate linger in the backend. Outstanding and very complex, with a fair amount of booziness but not necessarily any heat. Actually wish it was a touch sweeter.

Feel is perhaps a touch thin given the size of the beer and it’s complexity, but not out of line. Soft and silky but not sticky at all. Perhaps a touch over-carbonated.

Great find, and any time I can find a Half Acre beer in TN I’m a happy (and surprised) man.

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AmeriCanadian from Tennessee, Feb 05, 2019
Photo of LumbraRecords
4.88/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As soon as I smelled it at Half Acre, I was so excited to try it. I waited like 10 seconds to calm down to taste it with controlled feelings. As soon as I drank it, the chocolate/barrel flavors just kept coming at me. I was waiting for a bitter aftertaste, but it was like I finished eating a chocolate hard candy and no bitter after taste. Can't wait to get more.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sample at Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen 2018, Gold Session. Murky brown color with beige head. Aroma is sweet, sugary, earthy and a bit herbal with some toffee notes. Taste is balanced, bittersweet with some herbal candy notes and woody/earthy finish.

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Ciocanelu from Romania, Jun 24, 2018
Photo of stortore
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. 2017 edition, had 4/28/18.

Pours a cloudy, dark amber, with a half inch quickly dissipating head and light, spotty cling. Aromas of bourbon, malt, figs, caramel, raisins, chocolate, some vanilla and cocoa, a little oak, light dates. The taste mostly follows along- bourbon, caramel, oak, figs, lighter malt than the nose, some chocolate and vanilla, light raisins and molasses. Smooth, a good medium body, well carbonated.

Very enjoyable. The barrels are excellent and it’s a pretty well balanced beer, even with the lighter malt profile. The high ABV is well hidden. Great aroma. Worth a purchase.

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stortore from Illinois, May 07, 2018
Photo of larryarms847
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark reddish brown, kind of mahogany, but a little murky in a appearance.

Rich deep fruit notes, vanilla, molasses, some bourbon.

Nice barrel character with strong notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon.

Full-bodied, low carbonation, chewy.

Overall, an interesting brew and one worth enjoying!

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larryarms847 from Illinois, Apr 20, 2018
Photo of Tony210
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark amber, not much light gets through. Minimal foamy head. Great aroma of brown sugar, molasses, bourbon barrel, vanilla. Rich and creamy, tons of brown sugar and molasses dominate the palate. Some sticky toffee and vanilla come through, excellent bourbon barrel presence. Pretty viscous for an ale. ABV is hidden very well. Overall, an excellent BZA ale, but not worth the $25 / bomber.

4.5 rating

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Tony210 from New Jersey, Mar 17, 2018
Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2017 vintage bottling, listed at 12%. Pours hazy nearly opaque dark brown color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, prune, cherry, fig, date, caramel, toffee, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, bourbon, coconut, toasted oak, and biscuit; with light notes of chocolate, cocoa, nuts, leather, tobacco, pepper, char, smoke, and oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/bready/light roasted malts and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, cherry, fig, date, caramel, toffee, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, bourbon, coconut, toasted oak, and biscuit; with lighter notes of chocolate, cocoa, nuts, leather, tobacco, pepper, char, smoke, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light bourbon/oak tannin spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of dark fruit, caramel, toffee, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, bourbon, coconut, toasted oak, light chocolate/leather and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready/light roasted malts and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great malt and bourbon/oak spiciness balance; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Lightly-moderate increasing dryness from bourbon/oak spiciness, fairly clean finishing. Light-medium carbonation and medium-plus body; with a smooth, creamy/silky/tannic, and slightly sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Mildly warming alcohol for 12%, with minimal barrel booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barrel aged american strong ale! All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready/light roasted malts and bourbon barrel flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the big ABV. Definitely a unique brew, imperial brown ale on style character. Surprisingly light on body for the ABV. Great well rounded dark/bready malt complexity, with outstanding Heaven Hill barrel integration. Never boozy or harsh on barrel tannins. A very enjoyable offering.

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superspak from Michigan, Jan 20, 2018
Photo of GuyFawkes
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Released 10/27/17; drank 12/26/17 @ the Yarchives.

Opaque dark brown/orange rust appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice khaki head; strong lace.

Oak, tobacco, dark cherry & bourbon heat notes on the nose.

Thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Oak, cream & dry tobacco flavors up front; strong bourbon heat & mild dark cherry notes on the finish.

You're basically licking a freshly dumped bourbon barrel; almost all the more subtle notes are destroyed by that flavor. Permanent pass for me.

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GuyFawkes from Illinois, Dec 27, 2017
Photo of metter98
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is very hazy brown in color. It poured with a short beige head that quickly settled down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of bourbon are present in the nose along with hints of brown sugar.
T: The taste follows the smell, having lots of flavors of bourbon and notes of brown sugary sweetness.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is warmth from the alcohol.
O: This beer drinks nothing like 12% abv and does a very good job at hiding its alcohol—all I get is the bourbon flavors.

Serving type: bottle

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metter98 from New York, Dec 24, 2017
Photo of LloydDobler
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into large snifter

Murky brown color, like gross water from a rusty faucet. Tan head bubbles like a pot of heavy cream and slowly lowers to nothing. Nose is brown sugar sweet with raisins. Taste is follows the nose with muddles prunes and molasses. This reminds me a lot of the first time I had BCBBW, but the flavors are more muted. Alcohol is very present as this warms up. Slick feel with good carbonation.

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: murky brown with off white head
S: Raisin, caramel, bourbon, dates, vanilla, chocolate
T: Raisin, brown sugar, bourbon, toffee, dates, charred oak, grape, vanilla, cocoa, caramel
M: medium, typical brown ale but light for the abv
O: nice balance of sweet malt, bourbon, charred oak and alcohol. Excellent example of barrel aging

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Rimbimhoot from Illinois, Nov 10, 2017
Photo of Dankacheese
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An impressive brown ale. Has a very thin appearance but had a much fuller body mouthfeel than I was expecting. Flavors are all spot on, brown ale all the way through with alot of bourbon and barrel and presence. Heat, wood, malt and molasses. I'd like a little more biscuit in my bite. The barrel helps hide what the base is lacking.

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Dankacheese from Illinois, May 30, 2017
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted in a Rastal Teku from a bomber on April 28, 2019. An imperial ale aged 8 months in Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels. You can expect bass vibrations of caramelized Mary Janes, toffee, honey and Brazil nuts all wrapped in a skin suit of high caliber brown liquor.

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Photo of kevanb
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

650ml bottle, poured into a Half Acre Holiday Snifter. Enjoyed on 11.19.16, reviewed from Tasting Journal.

The beer pours a nice burgundy brown color, thick and deep and very opaque with garnet hues and a bone colored head, about a finger high that has good retention and lace. The aroma is nice, tons of rich grains, strong oak and charred barrel, light bourbon and toffee, raisin, coconut, brown sugar and caramel are very present with a touch of darker stone fruits. The flavors are very nice as well, hard to classify the base beer, but it reads like a nice strong brown ale, or a barleywine, lots of caramel and brown sugar, plenty of charred oak and bourbon, coconut and vanilla come out well with some rich toffee and nougat that linger well, very rich and decadent and great barrel character. The mouthfeel is nice, medium body with active carbonation supports the flavors well yet it remains smooth and coats very well with a warming finish.

Verdict: A nice barrel aged beer from Half Acre, hard to classify but to me, this reads like a barleywine or maybe an imperial brown ale. I suppose a Strong Ale is an adequate designation, but either way, this beer is really nice. Lots of rich grain, smooth and sweet barrel character with nice brown sugar and caramel nuances. Definitely an enjoyable treat.

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kevanb from Illinois, Jan 07, 2017
Photo of kojevergas
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

On-draught @ Torst in Brooklyn for a wallet-destroying $13 per 8oz pour. Ouch.

13.70% ABV. Brown ale that spent a pregnancy in Heaven Hill barrels.

Aroma announces beautiful bourbon notes of tobacco, chewy leather, vanilla, and oak, bending this towards an old ale profile in superb form. The marriage of vanilla to a chewy malty sweet core is glorious - at least aromatically - promising a beer that showcases heaven hill bourbon barrel character vividly without letting it eclipse the robust base beer. And the kicker? There's no trace of that 13.70% ABV whatsoever. Colour me excited to give this a shake. Aromatic intensity is above average.

Texture is chewy yet soft bordering on silky, accenting the tobacco flavour in good form but not quite delving as deep into the leathery feel and flavour promised by the aroma as I'd like.

Vanilla emerges semivividly from the bourbon, followed by scattershot notes of reticent white oak and leather. Heaven Hill is once again affirmed as one of the most suitable bourbon barrels for use in complementing beer via aging, and with nine months logged, Half Acre hasn't skimped on committing to their bourbon of choice.

I'd like more flavour from the base, to be honest. There's a robust enough brown malt core with subsidiary notes of chewy caramel, molasses, and vanilla bean (I'd probably go out on a limb in a blind tasting and say {wrongly} this was aged on vanilla beans given how expressive and full the vanilla flavour is), but it wants for more complexity to run at the same pace as the Heaven Hill barrel flavour.

The bourbon doesn't eclipse the base in presence but it does in quality. For an imperial brown ale, this is lacking in terms of English malt-derived notes like toffee, biscuit, and Caramel as well as classic nuttiness...one can imagine this souped up beautifully with hazelnuts or chestnuts (if not amplified by chestnut barrel aging, ripping a page out of the classic Lambic production book).

Sweetness is just right for the style. There's no overt hop or yeast presence.

Carbonation is near perfect. Flavour duration is above average, with the vanilla lingering subtly in the aftertaste.

OVERALL: With a perfect choice of bourbon barrel and an adequate aging period therein, Half Acre has elevated this brown ale well above the typical quality of its American-brewed sistren. Easily the finest expression of a brown ale I've tried in recent memory (and likely all of 2016), but there remains tweaking to be done if this is to rise to true world class status - particularly with respect to traditional brown ale flavours and conventions. So many imperial brown ales aged in bourbon barrels are merely shills with imperial stout envy, but this one is a committed true to style brew with lofty ambitions.

Pair with marshmallows (preferably toasted) or roasted cashews.

B (3.35) / GOOD

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kojevergas from Colorado, Nov 03, 2016
Orin from Half Acre Beer Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 79 ratings