Big Hugs | Half Acre Beer Company

169 Reviews
Big HugsBig Hugs

Brewed by:
Half Acre Beer Company
Illinois, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This beer is a thug. Big and chock full of tender embrace.

Added by emerge077 on 12-10-2009

For Trade:
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Reviews: 169 | Ratings: 692
Photo of jeffthecheff
2.74/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a black color with some red hue towards the top. Light brown head forms at first and then dies down to a weak, diamond shaped lace in the middle.

The aroma is not very nice. It's incredibly boozy. Even though its strong and intense, it still manages to be bland. There are some dark, plummy, fruit aromas in there but it's not very good. A bit of solvent, nail polish remover aromas are in there as well.

The taste is not as boozy as the aroma. It drinks like your typical imperial stout with some coffee in the finish. There was a gooey, ash type of sharp roast in there that is too acrid for my tastes. There is a bit of dark, chocolaty sweetness as well as licorice flavors.

Mouthfeel is thick and coating with a still, undercarbonated feeling. Not as full feeling as some of the better imperial stouts but its still good.

I wasn't a big fan of this beer, and even when it was split three ways we ended up dumping some. The aroma hurts the drinkability and it doesn't taste like a well made imperial stout. Maybe it was rushed.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
3.03/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Thanks for sending this one, Dave! Had it on 3.26, from notes.

Pours deep deep black abyss, oily with small tan foam, dotted lace not too much retention.

Big booze in the aroma, day old coffee grounds, a little acrid with pure ethanol. Chocolate is there too but the booze dominates. Wow, well the taste is much less boozy surprisingly. Much more integrated, still pretty robust and some more appealing chocolatey notes and coffee bean flavor. A little oily on the mouthfeel accentuates the booziness felt on the palate. We split a bomber between 3 people and there was still one third of the bottle left.. nobody wanted to finish it. Maybe some time would do it justice.

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Photo of Spider889
3.16/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Another beer from the first Central Ohio Beer Tasting. I can't remember whose this was atm, I want to say schwaeh...

Black as night, had a decent cap of mocha head.

Toasty malt flavor, lots of char and bitterness. At this point I was just finding out that this was a coffee beer. Really? Coffee beers are some of my favorite, but I wasn't getting a shred of coffee in the aroma here.

The coffee in the flavor is also nearly nonexistent imo, but it's there if you try to find it. Dark and syrupy. This ale is full of biting green hops that provide a grassiness I am growing to dislike in a stout (think IST).

Not a bad stout, but as a coffee beer this is a fail.

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Photo of BigBigPickle
3.26/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bought a bomber at the Half Acre facility on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago - what a great looking place. The loading door was open and it smelled divine. Looked cool too - I will be booking a tour soon.

A: Pours jet black, cola with a toasty brown head - marvelous looking beer in the glass. The head has okay staying power and there is great lacing on the glass.

S: HEAVY malt and coffee grounds with a sweet, slightly nutty smell.

T: Bitter at first, sweet, too sweet and fruity. Some coffee, but I have to be honest - way too thin and sweet fruit for a big beer like this. I really think it missed the mark.

M: Just okay - thin body with residual coffee and hop bitterness creating a decent mouth feel.

D: Eh. I would like to try it again to be certain of this review, but not at $10.99 per bomber. I drink a lot of stouts and this one missed the mark for me.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.43/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. 10% ABV. Thanks to the generous BA who hooked it up a while ago.

A: Pours black with a finger of very dark brown head that faded into a thin collar leaving almost no lace.
S: Rich notes of dark chocolate, vanilla, a splash of coffee, and light alcohol vapor.
T: The dark chocolate dominates but there is a good amount of ‘roasted’ flavors to the brew. The coffee may be a bit faded by now but it shows up nicely in the finish and aftertaste. I get a kind of bitter nuttiness overall as well as a touch of dark fruit. Vanilla is in the aftertaste.
M: Super smooth mouthfeel, no trace of alcohol, low carbonation and a thick body. It could be a touch thicker, especially towards the finish.
O: Not the boldest of the imperial stouts but enjoyable none the less. I hardy get any coffee at all though. Is there supposed to be coffee? The bottle leads me to believe there should be.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a chalice)
A- This beer pours a jet black body with a thick head that fades to a thick tan ring and last for a bit. It is too dense to see any sign of carbonation.
S- This beer has a dark roasted coffee aroma followed by a tootsie roll note and a nougat hint that becomes more mocha as the beer warms.
T- This beer has a big dark coffee flavor with a spicy cream finish. There are some roasted dark malt notes underneath and a nougat note that finishes with a slight tartness that grows as the beer warms.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with no alcohol heat noted and a chewy texture for the first few sips.
D- This beer is a bit one dimensional with the coffee, although pleasant, dominating the flavor and little support from the stout. It is very smooth and easy to drink for an imperial stout.

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Photo of BARFLYB
3.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap at Memphis Taproom.

A- Half Acre Big Hugs is black with a nice sturdy 1/2 inch tan head that left some spotty lacing.

S- This stout has a big roasted malt base to it with some chocolate and dark fruits with warming. No sign of the alcohol which is nice. Smells very robust.

T- A tasty stout with more of the chocolate and cocco coming through more than the smell. Also getting just a bit of tootsie roll as well. Roasted malts and not as much hops than I was expected from Half Acre.

M- Big Hugs glides down so smooth it's amazing. This one is a step above medium bodied with light carbonation. Just a hint of the alcohol comes through with some heat. No bitterness as the hops are low, or have faded from when this was kegged.

D- It took me a while to finish this. One glass was plenty and perhaps too much. The alcohol while not sessionable is not over 10 percent which is just fine by me, but the flavors are muddled.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to robbiemoy13 for this bottle. Poured in to CBS Snifter.

A - Poured black with one finger of bubbly espresso coloured head that quickly receded to a few bubbles.

S - Big charred malt aroma up front with some smoke, licorice and bitter dark roasted coffee. More bitter than sweet in the nose and very robust overall.

T - Big roasted malt profile up front that gives way to huge espresso notes. The finish has some licorice, char and smoke. Fairly prominent overall bitterness with some warming alcohol present. There is a sweetness here as well to provide some balance and light chocolate notes but the bitterness dominates, especially in the finish with is fill of huge bitter roast flavours.

M - Medium body and somewhat creamy at times. Light carbonation.

O - A good example of the style but too much bitterness for me. This one would really benefit from some aging.

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Photo of grover37
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle for $11 from Puerto Rico Liquors in Chicago. Black, some retention. Nose of white chocolate and vanilla, very faint. Watery taste with light chocolate and an anise finish. Not good. Really light mouthfeel, incredibly thin. Not worth half what I paid for the bottle.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.63/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by mdfb79 at a recent tasting. Served in a Bruery tulip.

Pour yields a dark brew with an off-white head that sticks around for a bit before falling into a cap and a thin collar. Nose brings forward mostly roast with a touch of coffee and chocolate in the background. The flavor is pretty similar to the nose in that they're really both on the light side with just a splash of coffee. Body is medium--though light for the style--with moderate carbonation and a smoothness without much booze. Nothing too complex or earth shattering, but pleasantly drinkable.

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Photo of maximum12
3.65/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kawilliams81 for an excellent in-person trade at the equally excellent Central Waters Anniversary party in February. I have judged that this bottle has been gathering dust long enough. Die! 22 oz. bottle split with the wife.

Pour is black. Always fun to watch people try to describe differences in pitch black, eh? Quiet beer. Nose is mostly roast, with a side of sweet sauce. Tame.

Big Hugs could rep the style at the national RIS convention; will the huggy delegate from IL please stand up? Lovely roast character stands up in the front row. Nice sweetness in the middle that tangos with a quick bitterness (hops, I presume) A dash of cream at the end.

Really, this is your double-yellow stripe right down the middle of the road of good big stouts. Nothing exciting, nothing deep, nothing complex, just a standard-bearer in a great style. Good.

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Photo of Sammy
3.67/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

More of a stout than an IS. Fairly fresh. Big licorice. Coffee and a little acidic. Rather ordinary RIS.Thanks Liam. 10% is not apparent over the coffee and roast. Assertive carbonation. Maybe more interesting in a year. Bold flavour but just did not get it tonight.

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Photo of jampics2
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a tasting snifter. I've been holding on to this to share at the right occasion, and a throw-down for a great friend who is leaving town seemed like a perfect opportunity. I believe this was an extra in a trade!

The beer looks great in the glass. It's a nice dark color with only the slightest touches of color variation around the edges. The black and dark brown liquid is capped with a nice off-white crown of foam that stays for a few minutes than sinks back into the abyss below.

The taste is full of roasty notes. The roasted malt gives dark chocolate impressions while the added coffee lurks a bit in the background. There's more of a molasses or fudge note than a coffee domination IMO.

The taste brings whatever coffee was missing in the nose, though. There's some initial sweetness, powered by roasted malts giving caramel and milk chocolate impressions. Then, the chocolate steals the spotlight, followed up by the coffee. A true star of the show, the coffee closes the experience in good form, dominating the closing set but also allowing the pervious flavors to sit in for a song or two.

The mouthfeel was really the only unpleasant or notably dissapointing aspect of this brew. It was just way too thin, with too little viscosity to balance out the flavors. Other than that, the booze was masked really well, and the beer was good overall. This is nothing jaw-dropping, but I would take another hug sometime in the future. Especially as an extra. Free hugs, right?

The mouthfeel

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Photo of ehammond1
3.72/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle (2010)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, crushedvol!

(Aged for 3 years)

Nearly black, but truly a very dark brown and ruby. Small dark brown head. Irregular spots of stick left down the glass. Pretty stout.

Not a hugely expressive aroma. Will adjust this as I let the beer warm throughout the review, if necessary. Roast and a touch of coffee. Just a bit of chocolate-covered dark fruit as well. In fact, as the beer warms, lots of oxidation character emerges. It's not distracting, but it's not ideal, either.

The flavor follows the aroma, with chocolate-covered dark fruits and a bit of roasted coffee character emerging nicely. Moderate bitterness. Very drinkable, and the alcohol is exceptionally well hidden.

Near full in body with low carbonation.

Excellent. This aged nicely.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.72/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

As the name suggests, this offering from Half-Acre represents the softer side of imperial stouts. Rather than clobbering the taste buds with overwhelming char or sticky sweetness, Big Hugs takes a subtler approach.

It pours black with lighter brown edges that emerge when held up to the light. A vigorous pour lets out a surprising amount of carbonation that eventually settles down to a thin but persistent layer of head. There's no need for anyone to pull out their review thesaurus to describe forboding blackness.

The smell leans towards the coffee flavors with dark chocolate providing a nice complement.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style, but it's smooth enough.

The taste again leans towards the coffee flavors, chocolate, raisin and some burnt sugar follow the lead. The finish is somewhat abrupt, without the lingering flavors that I enjoy in this style. That said, this is a very drinkable effort from Half Acre and well worth a try.

One note for the cellaring types: I've had this several times since its release and I would not recommend this for extended aging. The coffee flavors are fading quite a bit and, so far, no other flavors are stepping up to take their place.

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Photo of blankenhoney
3.73/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bomber from Dec. '13, enjoyed from a coffee mug.

A: Dark and viscous-looking with a creamy khaki head

S: Smells like chocolate milk with licorice, roasted malts, and pretty faint coffee

T: Toasted malt, licorice, baker's chocolate, and sweet, sugary, creamy light-roasted coffee. Licorice flavor is quite strong (along the lines of Kalamazoo Stout). It's bitter too, but it's a hop-based, rather than a coffee-like, bitterness. And there's a cola-like sweetness to the flavor.

M: Silky smooth, with a nice, dry, coffee-like bitter aftertaste

O: Big Hugs is a bit sweeter and much less coffee-forward than I'd prefer for an imperial stout with coffee, but it's an enjoyable beer nonetheless. I had one back in December of last year and don't remember it being any better than it is now.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.73/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Second to last blind. Thanks for the surprise box AleWatcher! Another one that calls for a snifter.

A- This beer is not pitch black at all. Its a dark brown with reds thrown in. There is a sticky yellow-tan head that leaves polka dots of lace. 4

S- Hops like a wet dog are the first thing I notice. Citrus pith and grass. The hoppiness is pretty out front. The balancing characteristics are white chocolate and cocoa powder. There is some slight butterscotch as well. Coffee comes out suddenly and strongly with adequate warmth. Im thinking Black IPA. 3.5

T- Nice balance. Starts out like a normal IPA, full of floral and citrus hops. Candied orange and the like. Very juicy. Black pepper segues things into a dark malt base of milk chocolate, cocoa and caramel. The finish bitters up with pine and coffee. The coffee strengthens with warmth. This is pretty good, but I dont normally like black IPAs. 4

M- Dry powdery finish. Body is somewhere in the middle. 3

D- I like this, but I dont think I'd drink it religiously. 4

The reveal: Half Acre Big Hugs? Huh? An imperial stout with coffee? Damn, this is a solid beer but it falls shy of being a great coffee stout. I was much happier thinking this was a CDA. Someone needs to make a Black IPA with coffee...

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Photo of BSiegs
3.79/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Beautiful dark black pour with two fingers of light brown foam. Retention and lacing are average. The aroma is big chocolate with slight notes of coffee, roast, and earthiness. The taste follows the aroma, with dark chocolate and roast leading the way. Feel is medium full, with low carbonation and very smooth. Balanced finish. Overall, a nice imperial stout.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to emerge for grabbing me this one. Pours an extremely dark brown that borders on black with a thin light tan head on top. Aromas are solid with dark roasted malts alongside a bright fresh brewed coffee, akin to sniffing some fresh ground beans.

First sip brings smooth dark malts up against a wall of rich coffee flavor. Hints of chocolate intertwine with a nice roast. Flows down with a touch of creaminess and lingering java aftertaste. Not nearly as viscous as I expected.

Mouthfeel is smooth with good carbonation..body is more along the lines of a regular stout to me than an "imperial" stout but I'm not complaining. Overall, a tasty coffee stout from a great new local brewery. Being this is my first bottle Half Acre beer I've tried, I am looking forward to more.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Just to start off with, what a goofy looking bottle, although, not really in a bad way, just funny. Very dark, basically black, looks fairly viscous, small tan head, not sure how high it would have rose had a server not poured it.

T - Big coffee notes, slightly roasted bitter cocoa smell to it. It's really a huge dark roasted coffee smell that is present more than anyhthing else.

T - Tons of coffee flavor on this one, slightly smokey mixes in with a bitter chocolate taste. Very rich, with some small earthy tones.

M - Solid, full bodied, dry finish.

D - Tastes good, but so much coffee, could only do one.

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Photo of MNishCT77
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

13 oz. tried at the tap room, poured into a Half Acre snifter glass and shared with my wife over 30 minutes.

A: 3/3 - pitch black, no light shall pass, tannish-brown head settled into a half finger lacing; large alcohol legs

S: 8/12 - coffee, chocolate, toffee and molasses notes predominate but the intensity was slightly muted; minor hop and alcohol notes are also detectable

T: 15/20 - on the first sip in the front of the mouth, there is a slight coffee and dark chocolate bitterness that quickly evolves into a more complex malt character with toffee, butterscotch and caramel presence; there is a slight sweetness on the aftertaste but not cloying inviting subsequent sips

M: 4/5 - slightly thin for style but otherwise appropriate with alcohol coating and low-to- moderate carbonation

O: 8/10 - a solid RIS that was a nice change of pace and culmination after having several excellent hopped-up ales; unfortunately for Half Acre (but fortunately for the consumer), there are so many great RIS on the market at that moment that this one doesn't stand up to the intensity and complexity of their flavor profile (Brooklyn's BCS, Founders RIS, Sierra Nevada's Narwahl and Oskar Blues Ten Fidy immediately come to mind); however, for the price point ($6 for a 13 oz. snifter), it's definitely solid and worth forming your own opinion

TOTAL - 38/50

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Photo of vic21234
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. No bottled on date visible, but it is the latest vintage.

A- Pours black with a thin amount of khaki colored head which quickly fades.

S- Notes of roasty chocolate and coffee on the nose.

T- The smell carries into the taste. Notes of roasted malt are first and foremost along with dark chocolates. The coffee is present as well through much of the taste.

M- Medium to heavy bodied yet an easy sipper.

Pretty good imperial stout but I expected a bit more coffee flavor.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep black with a slight amount of clarity on the pour, a coffee colored head forms and persists, leaves heavy lacing

S: strong brewed coffee notes on the front which are melded with chocolate and roasted barley. Smells very robust

T: the taste is similar to the nose with some added malt sweetness in the mid palate, some molasses, lots of roasted/burnt flavors, not as much coffee on the palate as the nose led me to believe , this beer is good but isn't anything I would go out of my way to get

MF: creamy texture, medium to thick body

D: the alcohol is well hidden and the flavors are smooth. I was expecting the coffee to be more prominent than it was. Overall I enjoyed this beer, but it wasn't as good as I hoped for.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first Half Acre brew courtesy of 2BDChicago (thanks Rich!). 22oz. bottle served in a snifter. Pours two shades shy of black with a loose, quarter inch, tan-colored head that dissipates into a frothy skim. Nose implies artificial sweetener, dark malts and a roasty char - all and all, somewhat subdued. Taste expresses roasted dark malts, chalky cocoa and a faint coffee grounds presence. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with a slight acidity and a carbonation level that falls just short of lively. Overall, a decent easy drinking American Double with a well-hidden abv, but nothing really stands out for me on this one. That said, the label art was really great.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black. Nice khaki head. Leggy. Medium collar.

Smell - Deep roasted malts. Like coffee and dark chocolate. Some licorice.

Taste - Dark chocolate. Licorice. Roasty. Bitter coffee finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy, but very drinkable. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Simple, but well made and drinkable for an imperial stout.

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Big Hugs from Half Acre Beer Company
4.1 out of 5 based on 692 ratings.
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