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Big Hugs | Half Acre Beer Company

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BA SCORE
91
outstanding
166 Reviews
Big HugsBig Hugs
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Half Acre Beer Company
Illinois, United States
halfacrebeer.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
166
Ratings:
667
Avg:
4.1
pDev:
8.54%
 
 
Wants:
300
Gots:
169
For Trade:
16
User Reviews
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Reviews: 166 | Ratings: 667
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 minterro
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to exitmusic for the bottle.

One of the coolest bottle labels I've ever seen.

Says 10% on the label and 9.5% on BA.

A&S: roasty sweet coffee, dark chocolate, caramel, fairly sweet smelling overall. About a finger of dark tan head when poured, retained in a thin layer. specks of lacing. pitch black colored beer but didn't seem very thick.

T&M: More bitter, then sweetness in the smell would make it seem. Slight dark chocolate tones upfront. Pretty large alcohol tones from midway through to the finish. Lots of bitter roastness in the finish. Quite warming. medium-fully bodied, medium carbonation, on the chewy side.

Overall: Very enjoyable and fairly easy to drink despite the large taste of alcohol throughout. Depending on the price I would buy this beer again.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

10%ABV. Pours a very dark black with a medium-large tan head with an attractive ruby hue to it. Scent is lovely with nice chocolate aromas and fresh espresso. A little bit of roasted malt with a little bit of vanilla bean. As it warms, the vanilla shine...as well as the coffee. Taste is outstanding! Initially, just some mellow roasted malt with the slightest bit of smoke/ash. It instantly switches gears to fresh brewed coffee and delicious malt profile. Wonderful chocolate flavors with a lingering vanilla flavor that works well for this beer. Pleasant alcohol warmth in the finish. Mouthfeel is creamy but could have a little more body to it. Drinkability is very high. ABV well hidden. Overall, this is a superb Imperial stout. Thanks to my girlfriend and a certain member of BA for giving me the chance to try this!

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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 BeerAdvocate
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22oz brown bomber with no freshness date though we are most certain this one will cellar well.

LOOK: Black as black can be, sticky tan froth all over

SMELL: Espresso, charcoal, nougat, burnt currants

TASTE: Smooth, creamy, charred palate, shot of espresso, dark chocolate, blackstrap molasses, black currants, herbal hop, very warming alcohol, bittersweet charred finish

So anyway ... we are beer lovers, and we love to drink, we think about how cute they are, and how their labels, and caps, and we just love them. We just want them in a basket, with a bowtie, on a rainbow and in our bed to roll around. But we can't hug every beer.

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Photo of yamar68
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter:

Pours an ominous abyss of dark matter. Dense mocha head of about a finger and a half. Consistent retention and lacing. Big everything: coffee, melted chocolate, with all the appropriate malty backing flavors - vanilla, caramel, toffee, earthy goodness. Taste mirrors the nose. Stupendous. The feel is cloying and thick. Carbonation could be beefed up a notch. Overall, this is very tasty stuff. I wish this made it up to my neck of the woods. Thanks to bpgpitt10!

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Photo of KDawg
4.38/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into a tulip. Pours a dark black color, but lacking a bit of head

Very good aromas of coffee, caramel, belgian chocolate and a good amount of malts. Very balanced, but slightly shy compared to the rest of the beer

Full bodied with a real great and smooth feel. Dangerously smooth with great depth too. Polished with great flavors of belgian chocolate, roasted malts, and a good amount of hot caramel. You can't notice the alcohol on this at all.

This is really damn good. Insanely smooth and polished, this is really impressive from half acre.

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Photo of ChiPool
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber at the brewey a few weeks ago...poured into a Duvel tulip.

Trying to expand my hoppy horizons into the dark side, and always willing to give my Lincoln Avenue brethren a chance at a brew. Like a bombshell blonde stripper, this has the classic look of a stout: dark & curvy with a sandy blonde mop. This one is roasty: not too sweet. It's smooth...velvety...sneaky! Almost no heat on this one...a real cool customer. Danger, Will Robinson!!!

Like many of the Half Acre releases...cans, please!!!

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Photo of Jaycase
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: black as night. thick, creamy tan head. sticky lacing

s: dark chocolate and coffee with chocolate being the much more predominant aroma.

t: Roasted malts up front with nice blend of coffee and chocolate through the finish.

m: Smooth, thick and creamy. Finishes slightly dry.

o: Very enjoyable stout. Incredibly drinkable. Solid all around, no glaring negatives. Seek this one out stout lovers. I know I will again.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this at a tasting last night. Thanks to rwnewhouse for bringing this.

This pours black, though it doesn't seem to suck in all the light around it like other stouts can. On the nose, even a year later, there is still a good deal of coffee, with bitter chocolate and bitter roasted malt. In the mouth those three different types of bitterness dominate, but there is also a slightly citric flavor in the long finish. The coffee has probably faded quite a bit, but it's still present and doesn't taste stale or anything. The body is surprisingly medium, something I also ran into with their Wild America barleywine.

Overall, this is a pretty nice coffee stout, though I would have liked to have tried it a little fresher. That might have helped the pungency of the beer, but it probably wouldn't help the weirdly average body.

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Photo of tasteegood
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had the pleasure of having this beer on tap, bottle, and in growler...yay!!!

Anyway on this occasion, I will look back to my wonderous experience on the day of its December release in 2011.

Serving type: Growler-split amongst 3 people in 2Hopleaf tulip glasses and 1 Bell's tulip glass.

S- Robust coffee, hints of chocolate....ah Dark Matter Coffee!!!
A-Black, black, black. W a thin brown lacing that coated the side of the glass as you drink.
T- Robust black Coffee (maybe a darker roast) w/ a pinch of azucar
M- LIght carbonation, coffee definitely stays on your buds for a bit.
O-Fantastic buy. One of my favorite ovarall and possibly my favorite seasonals from Half Acre. I will hodl on to my last 22 oz until my last breathe.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into an oversized snifter

Pours black with a quick settling dark tan head. Some lacing remains along the sides of the glass. Carbonation appears low to moderate.

Great aroma of dark roasted malts and coffee. Some bitter cacao mixes in as well. Baker's chocolate immediately comes to mind. Sweet malt balances out the bitter, roasted coffee.

Sweet roasted malt combines with fresh coffee beans and baker's semi-sweet chocolate. This is certainly a coffee forward RIS but the other flavors can stand alone. Bold with just the right roastiness and sweetness required for an excellent and balanced RIS.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style, but creaminess reigns the palate. Moderate and appropriate carbonation for the style. Very smooth and quaffable.

An excellent offering by Half Acre. The best beer they make imo. The flavors are rich, bold and delicious. This would be a world class stout if it were more chewy and viscous. Enjoy this one fresh to get the full bodied coffee flavor.

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Photo of DCon
4.12/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared a 1pt. 6 Fluid oz. bottle of this w/ CurtisMcArthur and other BA friends in Nashville, TN. Poured from the Snow Scened Bottle w/ a "Devilish" looking Cat Squeezing Santa and a Ice Monster while an elf is running past the North Pole Sign into a 12oz Tulip Glass. Does not have a freshness date on the bottle but must be new b/c this label is much different than the one on BA.

Aroma- Had a very entertaining aroma. As I poured the beer into my glass, it smelled as if you were walking into a coffee shop with blended coffees for sale. Tons of roastiness and malt came across too. Cool!

Appearance- Poured a .5 finger head that died fairly quick. Had an extreme dark brown body. Left dark brown suds behind.

Flavor- A very deep and roasty brew was present at the beginning and then shorty changed into a coffee stout like brew. Not as complexed as I would like but the deepness and rich flavor of coffee contributed positively. Had a light-medium bitter finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Light-Medium Bodied, VERY smooth and light alcohol warming.

Overall Impression- I would literally buy this beer again just for the picture on the label! Awesome! This came off more like a coffee stout for me. I wouldn't throw it into the 2X or Russian Imperial Stout category because of its lighter bodied character and wasn't too complexed. Recommend but for a different style.

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Photo of cwguy5
4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - pitch black with a sandy colored, rocky, sticky head; lots of lacing left on glass

S - roast, black coffee, dark chocolate, slight solvent alcohol

T - bittersweet chocolate and well roasted coffee up front with an almost bourbony alcohol bite further along; has a bittering finish (hops?)

M - beautiful, rich texture on a thick body; short, pleasant, bitter linger

D - somewhat unique for a coffee stout - dry, very roasty, and bittersweet; very nice taste and mouthfeel; i would drink this year-round if available

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Photo of jdhende
4.33/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 22 oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip

A: Pours a motor oil black with a a soft brown colored head. Really a great looking beer.

S: Got a huge waft of the dark matter coffee with a hint of chocolate. Very coffee forward smell.

T: It opens up with a dominant coffee flavor and finishes nicely with tastes of dark chocolate and roasted malt.

M: Surprisingly smooth. Medium bodied with a nice lingering taste of coffee. If you are a big coffee fan like myself you will very much enjoy this one.

O: Another nice offering from Half Acre. Very coffee forward and overall a very solid stout offering. I'm excited to be a Chicago resident and be around as Half Acre grows as Brewery.

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Photo of TheHopfather
4.52/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Big Hugs
From bottle to snifter

A- dark brown to black w/ a one finger tan head that does not dissipate little to no light shines through.

S- Coffee and cream at first. hints of vanilla and the familiar roastiness of a Russian Imperial Stout soon follow. I also find a very faint butterscotch aroma. Hopefully the taste follows suit because the aroma of this one is magnificent.

T- Strong coffee, but not too strong. Roasty, yet at the same time a pleasing mellowness to it. Vanilla and cream in the back end. The tastes blend very well with each other.

M- Medium body. I'd like a little more for my tastes.

D- very drinkable for a 10% stout. I do not see this one lasting long.

O- I really enjoyed this bottle. The flavors all mesh very well and are what I want in a coffee stout. I will be looking for more bottles of this one in the future.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Half Acre
Big Hugs '11
Victory snifter

A: Pours basically a pitch black color.  Two fingers of tan head.  Lots of sticky lacing are left on the glass. Some alcohol feet are there.  Tight tiny bubbles coming from the bottom of the glass.

S: Lots of roasted malt notes.  There is a good amount of dark roast coffee, but its not as much as I have read about. Some dark fruit notes as well behind it all.

T: Lots of roasted notes.  Not as much coffee as I was expecting. Maybe my palate was just beat up after an Xmas day of drinking stouts.

M: Medium to full.  Nice roasty mouth coat.

O: I like this one, but it wasn't a mind blowing RIS by any means. I like the coffee forward stouts, but I wanted even more coffee on this one.

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Photo of AJacob81
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Growler purchased at Half Acre on Dec. 18, 2011 and shared with family a week later on Christmas day. Served in my lovely new HA-branded snifter/tulip.

A - Dark chocolate/black in color, topped with 2 fingers of creamy, latte-colored foam that leaves behind a decent amount of lacing as it recedes.

S - Freshly roasted house blend, and not much else. It's a lovely coffee aroma, but a bit one-dimensional. As it warms, some basic stout roastiness, mild hop aroma, and some cocoa shows up as well.

T - Great, bitter coffee stout. The coffee is spot on, and is supported nicely by dark bread and bittersweet chocolate notes from the malt bill, and just the right kick of spicy, earthy hops to provide a well-rounded flavor profile. Slight warming brings out a subtly sweeter hot cocoa taste and some boozy warmth. Really quite fantastic and much more complex than what the nose seemed to offer.

M - Full-bodied, nicely carbonated, finishes rather dry for a big stout. I'd like to just sip at it, but it keeps disappearing from my glass.

O - My first time in the kitten's embrace, certainly won't be my last. Highly recommended.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Duvel tulip.

A- black with 2" creamy brown head. Some lacing that resides quickly.

S- bitter dark chocolate and a ton of chocolate.

T- roasted malts and huge coffee flavor. Some bitter chocolate at finish.

M- medium to full body. Smooth and creamy.

O- I'd you like coffee you will love this beer! Definite improvement from last year, little thin last year.

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Photo of jacob4999
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2011 bottle poured into a glass goblet. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance: Pours a nice black with an off white head. Nice retention and web lacing.

Smell: Coffee, sweet chocolates and roasted malt. Very inviting and smells delicious.

Taste: Light on the coffee to me but a nice sweet creamy chocolate flavor. That combined with the roasted malts makes the alcohol nonexistent. I could drink this beer all night.

Mouthfeel: Maybe it was because I drank this right after having a fresh BCBS but I thought mouthfeel was a little thin. But for being a sweet stout it definitely works!

Overall: Like an imperial and a milk stout rolled into one. Delicious flavors and smell make this beer a total package. Too bad it is so limited and hard to get as I could drink one of these every weekend and be content. Already can't wait till next year. Definitely seek this one out!

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Photo of PlinytheFarter
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am proclaiming that Half Acre will be the premier micro brewery in Chicago in five years. Goose Island is not longer Chicago I'm sorry. They keep getting better every year and are currently expanding their brewery so they can increase the amount of these great brews that we may get our hands on. I got two bombers at the release for this fantastic beer, it was very much worth the drive and short line wait. I am sad though that I did not dress as a cat as stated to on the update for the release. I figured a surprise gift would be like a coaster or bottle opener, turns it was some random corked bomber and a tulip! That is super badass and I learned my lesson on that one. Now onto to the review which I'm sure you can tell how I feel about the brew already.

Upon opening the beer I was kinda surprised by the muted smell I was getting. I figured for sure I would smelling that amazing Dark Matter coffee that Half Acre used to brew this beer. I then realized it was far too cold to get any great smell going. It was cold from sitting in the freezing brewery loading dock for the release. This was my only complaint about how the release was setup. After the beer sat for a few in the warmth of a friends furnished basement the amazing aroma I was hoping for came out. I smelled more coffee than roasty smokiness which I was pleased about.

It's as you would imagine a dark ass mofo of a beer. My favorite part is that wonderful medium brown head you get off a great Imperial Stout. I just mentally prepares me for the greatness within. It pours id say about a finger of head. I personally like a tad more on my Stouts but no real complaint. This however is a glimpse into my biggest complaint with this beer...

It tastes smooth and delicious with a hearty coffee kick. It slides down the throat nicely and isn't a very thick Stout at all considering the amount of flavor you get outta this. My biggest issue which I hinted at earlier is that it seems a tad "flat". I almost want to chalk this up to Half Acre being a really small brewery still. They have shown and continue to show they can hang with the big boys of the micro brew industry, but they still seem to be not quite ready to fully take a spot on top. I will compare them to lets say Founders which i would say is one the most consistent breweries who do some of the best Stouts that are similar to Big Hugs. That consistency thing is what elevates them to me, their beers never taste flat. The flavors are bold and up front and don't feel like they could and should have been more. Big Hugs has that slight letdown like it has more to offer you but just fell short of true epic status. This being said I freaking love this beer. The coffee taste is damn near perfect, thanks in large part to the amazingness that is Dark Matter coffee. This doesn't finish smokey or roasty, it just keeps hitting that cofee flavor. Well maybe there is some roast in the back end but it makes me think of a roasted coffee bean. I drank another last night Christmas Eve and it was fantastic. As you can see by my score my problem with it is minor but that jump from close to perfect beer to actually being perfect is huge. Half Acre will get there one day, sooner than later I assume. Until then I will continue to enjoy the journey with them!

Cheers!

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Photo of Treebs
4.01/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle served in a Deschutes snifter. 2011 vintage.

A: Pours a pitch color with a very bubbly dark khaki head. It rises up to about three fingers in height before settling to a thick collar. There is tons of sticky webbing down the glass. Looks phenomenal.

S: The nose was a tad on the sweeter side. Sweet chocolate malts and vanilla were at the front which was followed by a prominent roasted coffee bean body. There was a touch of raw cocoa as well.

T: Dark coffee grinds dominant the beginning of each sip, but then it transitions nicely to some dark chocolate, creamy sugar, and a nice roasted malt flavor. The finish is a combination of sweet vanilla and some boozy dark fruit.

M: Medium to heavy bodied. It was a tad thin on the initial pour when it was a little colder, but once it warmed up it became thicker and creamier. There was a touch to much carbonation for my liking. The dark roasted coffee flavors lingered on the palate for quite sometime after each sip which was nice.

O: A very solid and great tasting beer. I was expecting the coffee to take over, but it was very well balanced. Just a tad over carbonated.

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Photo of jegross2
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Big Hugs from Half Acre Brewing Company.
Score: 88

Fresh 2011 vintage bottle poured in a CBS snifter glass. Amazing artwork on the bottle. Click on the images to the right (labels from the different Big Hugs vintages) to enlarge.

Appearance: Pours a pitch black with a half finger of creamy tan head that settles into a thin ring around the glass. Pretty solid lacing. 4/5

Smell: Velvety black coffee. Raw cocoa beans, dark unsweetened chocolate and raw coffee beans. Light hops aroma. 4/5

Taste: Creamed coffee. Some hops on the mid-palate. Raw bitter coffee bean finish. Some raw, unsweetened chocolate on the mid-palate as the beer layers. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Creamy and medium bodied. Light-plus carbonation, perhaps a touch too much carbonation. Finish is bitter and a little acidic. 3/5

Overall: A solid imperial stout from Half Acre. Certainly worth trying, but a little over-hyped if you ask me.

Recommendation: A very true to style, tasty, and inoffensive beer that I recommend to beer geeks and casual beer drinkers alike. Do not go too far out of your way to try this one, however.

Pairings: Chocolate cake.

Cost: $12 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle from the Half Acre Brewery Store.

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Photo of JoeBoxer522
4.53/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! What a phenomenal brew! Got this from the Big Hugs release in late December of 2011 and cracked open the growler the next day.

A: Darker than dark, very inky black pour with a deep tan foamy head.

S: Roasty, a hint of coffee, a deep sweet smelling stout. Already getting a contact high.

T: A little more bitter than I expected, but incredibly smooth. You can tell the alcohol is there, but not quite as overbearing as other Imperial Stouts I've tried. Velvety smooth texture and a lingering bitter-sweetness. Overall excellent.

M: Velvety smooth, surprisingly sticky given it's not super sweet. Definitely lingers in your mouth well after it's gone.

Overall a fantastic brew. As a side note, I had 3 Snifters worth of the growler and I got a unique wonderful buzz that lasted through the night and into the morning, without any real hangover. Quality stuff :)

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired from bassmantin, so a big “Thank You” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter glass. I’ve had it stored for almost two years.

A: The beer is a very deep dark brown color, with a thin head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains black coffee, dark fruit, bourbon, roasted malts and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a strong bitter-sweet toasted coffee bean flavor, followed by background flavors of dark fruit, bourbon and chocolate. The roasted malt character is very hearty and there’s a very mild but complementary hops presence that creates a good balance. The after-taste is bitter-sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp it’s also a bit syrupy but somehow it seems to work nicely in this beer, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down quite easily, slightly filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this is a very nice stronger coffee-flavored beer that appears to have aged quite well.

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Big Hugs from Half Acre Beer Company
4.1 out of 5 based on 667 ratings.
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