Small Animal Big Machine
Half Acre Beer Company

Small Animal Big MachineSmall Animal Big Machine
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Fruit and Field Beer
3.64 | pDev: 18.68%
Half Acre Beer Company
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Small Animal Big MachineSmall Animal Big Machine
Notes: Collaboration with De Struise Brouwers and Pipeworks Brewing Company

This beer was brewed in collaboration with De Struise & Pipeworks. Belgian yeast set the scene for a traditional sour mash and loads of currants & cherries.
Reviews: 52 | Ratings: 96 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of cpetrone84
1.9/5  rDev -47.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

pour is murky dark brown with tan head. Nose is overly sweet with a messy malt. Plums, cherries, tobacco, peppery spice, lightly smoky meat. Taste is less smoky, more sweet, with a strange twang in the finish. Plums, cherries, faint leather, faint peppery spice, fairly dry finish, moderate carbonation and oily palate.

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Photo of mothman
2.8/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a beige head. Color is a caramel brown.

Aroma: Berries and cocoa. Some roasted malts. I have never had a carrot beer before, but knowing they are in here allows me to pick them out.

Taste: Cranberries, cherries, and carrots. Then a touch of chocolate malts. So many berries.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy. Light bodied with a high amount of carbonation. Ends roasted.

Overall, a unique beer with lots of berries. Too much carbonation as well. It's okay, but I don't want a lot of it.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared at FosterJM's birthday celebration.

Pours a murky brown with a dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with some fruity and spice aromas. Taste is the same with an emphasis on dark fruit flavors. This beer has a super high level of carbonation with an extremely prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the carbonation level is much too high.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bonus points for the imaginative and creative artwork on the label. The beer is hazy and chestnut brown in color with a ginormous tan head that leaves ample lacing on the glass. A bit over-carbonated.

Sweet fruit dominates the aroma. Currants followed by berries.

The flavor is lightly tannic, offering some oak character and a healthy serving of currants. Definitely more sweet than tart / sour. Alcohol presence is mild. A few ounces is plenty. This was fun to try, but not a big hit among the guys in the tasting group.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.56/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by the other Matt, beer served in a snifter, Beer is brown and hazy with a thin tan head, low retention, the bottle artwork is sort of amazing really. No lacing.

Aroma is sweet, dark fruit, nice malt presence, smells nice.

Beer is a bit of a letdown, thin body, sweet on the finish, beer is just OK, mild dark fruits, prunes perhaps, an interesting beer but nothing too special. I doubt I'll have it again.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.09/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Geist. Served in a snifter.

Pours a moderately dark brown with a really nice off white head and loads of lacing on the way down. Good cap throughout. The nose has some cherry and dark fruits. A bit of oxidation in the nose. The flavor corresponds with all of this and adds a bit of dark malt. Medium body with plenty of fruit; semi dry finish. Okay.

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Photo of sidetracked
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, deep ruby brown with a good cream-colored head that lingers only as a ring around the glass.

Aroma is unripe cherries, currants, and tart raspberries with some bready yeast and toasted malt. Some raisin-like sweetness as it warms.

Upfront taste is tart fruitiness, currants and cranberries mixed with some fruity esters and Belgian yeast. Some light biscuity malt and cherry sweetness manage to cut through in the middle. Tart finish of unripe cherries, currants, and cranberries with some toasted malt. Light tartness lingers.

Medium body with high carbonation. Bubbly. Crisp finish. Seems appropriate.

A nice, tart fruit beer. Good, but nothing outstanding. Worth trying.


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Photo of mdfb79
3.48/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From 11/27/11 notes. Big thanks to the Chicago Group for sending this in the Group BIF. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a dark brown color with two inches of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Lots of lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of sour cherries, currants, roasted malts, light spices. An interesting mix here, and the sour cherries dominate, which I kind of enjoy.

t - Tastes of sour cherries, currants, roasted malts. Less sour than the nose and more roasted malts, a slight step down for me.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

o - Overall an interesting beer. I enjoyed the sour cherries in the nose, but would have liked more in the taste. Wouldn't seek it out again, and not Half Acre or De Struisse's best work.

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Photo of iadler
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle split into two tulips.

A- Pours a dark brown with a reddish hue. A huge slightly off white head slowly dissipates leaving some nice sheets of lacing and a cap that sticks around.

S- Tart cherries, brown sugar, peppery spice, toffee, coffee beans, dark chocolate and some grass. An interesting aroma for sure.

T- Tart cherries emerge first, followed by some coffee, dark chocolate, toffee, and some earthy/spice notes. Finishes with some red grapes and bit of metallic taste.

M- Medium carbonation and body with a dark fruit sourness and metallic finish.

O- A decent beer that is certainly different, but nothing outstanding. The flavors seem to clash with each-other a bit and there is this metallic taste that is noticeable. Not one of my favorites from Half Acre.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.23/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly darker then your normal ale. Lots of visible carbonation was evident from the start, chains of bubbles rippling up from the bottom of the glass. Lots of haze, literally made this opaque. Nice one inch thick white head receeded rather quicky leaving behind a thin film on top of the glass and a nice amount of lace drooping down the sides.

The smell was strong, and very fruity. Large hint of raspberry was readily apparent from the start. A very sugary aroma aroma was present as was a slight hint of grain in the back, slight hoppiness was present in the finsh, quite dry actually. Very smooth feel, great carbonation, led to that nice silky, bubbly light feeling. Overall the flavors were very very intense, and the fruit and hop flavors made the profile really jump out at you, and made it actually rather ejjoyable as the session wore on.

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Photo of axeman9182
2.29/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle, allowed to warm a little before being poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Small Animal Big Machine pours a very dark maroon, approaching black, with plentiful ruby red highlights shining through. There's about three fingers of khaki colored foam topping the beer, and it displays good head retention. Lacing is barely there though. The nose has a little sugar, a little caramel, and a little cocoa to it. Cherry, and moreso currants dominate. It doesn't all come together well though, reminds me a bit of Coca Cola. The flavor is more of the same, heavy, almost metallic cola taste to it. I don't pick up more than a faint twinge of tartness, which for all I know could just be in my head because I was expecting some sour. The body is nice light, but the carbonation is way over the top and harsh. Small Animal Big Machine is a beer I was really looking forward to, which made the contents of the bottle all the more disappointing.

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Photo of stxSS07
3.86/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip.

A- Huge hiss/pop upon cracking this one open. Pours a dark brown with 3 fingers of pillowy, khaki head that hangs around forever. Leaves nice lacing.

S- Tart cherry and currant, sweet sugary malt, maybe a bit of an herbal medicinal note? Bit of toasted grain/mineral notes as well.

T- Again leads with tart cherry and currants, followed by a milk chocolate-like sweetness, sweet and toasty malts, and ends with a nice bready finish that lingers despite the carbonation. No detectable ABV.

M- Medium-light with high carbonation that attacks the palate. A bit too aggressive for my taste.

O- This is definitely a polarizing beer...I mean just look at the pDev. I happen to be on the side that thoroughly enjoys this brew. It combines elements of a sour, brown ale, and a porter that really clicks with me.

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Photo of Arbitrator
1.44/5  rDev -60.4%
look: 1 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Chilled bottle into a glass, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Gusher. This thing basically converts to foam the moment it leaves the bottle, creating a billowing, 4" foam presence in my glass with just the barest hint of liquid beneath it. Ridiculous.

S: Cherries, spice, and a chalky, alcoholic note. It has a potpourri-like scent that I can't quite pinpoint, down to the woodsy note. Weird.

T: I imagine this is like drinking spiced potpourri juice. It has a tart/sour currant flavor backed by lots of must, with a yeast-cakey aftertaste. Weird adornment of spices, cherries, and green apples.

M: This beer is foam. All foam. 'Nuff said.

O: I didn't realize until I came up here to write this review that Struise was involved. That explains a lot; I think they're terrible, and I'm blaming Small Animal, Big Abomination on them.

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Photo of monitorpop
4.17/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown-ish red with a cream ring.

S: Sweet cherry.

T: Malt, Slightly sweet/tart ripe cherry.

M: Clean and smooth with a medium carbonation. No alcohol burn.

O: Unique ale with a nice cherry accent that improves as it warms up. Very drinkable. Plus, the best label art ever!

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.78/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: This pours an elegant cranberry brown color with lighter transparent edges. A beige head rises up to a nice level before gently fading to a thin film while leaving some nice lacing.

Smell: Actually fairly sweet. Ripe cherries and soft currants provide the fruit aromas, with some brown malt and light tartness.

Taste: This is much less sour than I was anticipating. The cherry flavor is strongest, with the currants a little bit in the background. The sweetness blends with a sweet bready brown malt flavor. A light tartness comes in toward the end, but it is very subdued.

Mouthfeel: Very lightly tartness creates salivation toward the end of each sip. It is lightly sticky and creates a resiny coat on the inside of my mouth. The carbonation is smooth and controlled, with a medium body.

Overall: This was sweeter that I would have liked. Although it had a number of different flavors, I would have preferred it to be more sour.

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Photo of readbaron
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to KickInTheChalice for sharing this one.

Dark, reddish brown, the color of plum skins. Tan head, 2 fingers, then it fades into a small ring. No lacing.

Smell is intriguing. Good - but odd. Cherries, currents overwhelm the rest of the nose. Maybe a bit of malt and earthiness underneath. A bit boozy.

Taste is equally interesting - fairly sweet. Cherries & currants are present, some sweetness as well. Simpler than the nose.

Mouthfeel is good. Well carbonated, a bit creamy, and a bit sticky.

Overall - pretty good beer. Not at all what I expected, not sour at all, and quite unusual, but still pretty tasty.

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Photo of corby112
3.33/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to lurchingbeast for sending this in a recent trade.

Pours a hazy dark ruby color with mahogany edges and a 1.5 finger light beige head.  Good retention slow fading into a lasting ring.  Spotty lace left behind.

Interesting aroma with hints of roasted dark malt and vinous dark fruit.  Slightly somkey and chalky with hints of cocoa and caramel followed by a bunch of sweet fruit notes.  Hints of grape, cherry,  plum and dark berries.

Medium bodied with some tight carb up front and some dry roasted malt that lingers into a dry finish while being countered by the sweeter dark fruit notes.  Toasty with hints of cocoa, caramel and roasted coffee countered by hints of grape, dark cherry, plum and other dark berries.  Slightly chalky with a dry finish.  Lots of boozy sweetness.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.48/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

picked this one up on release day at the brewery. been looking forward to having this since that day. hurricane irene seemed like the right night.

a - opened and filled my duvel tulip. glass poured with almost all head. liquid was a deep reddish brown.

s - cherries and booze. some candied sugar.

t - nice and sour with a chunky fruity kick. again, boozy. spicy. a little nutmeg sweetness. has a bit of the belgian struise flavor characteristics. kind of sweet tartish. dark chocolate covered fruit. mostly cherry.

m - lots of carbonation, a bit thicker than i expected. has a bit of a flanders vibe...a bit fizzy...a bit sour. aftertaste leaves a bit of a grimace on my face.

o - overall, i was hoping for more with this beer. i don't find it to be as bad as most people are saying, but certainly not a MUST try kind of beer. mostly sour cherries with some struise flavoring in the mix.

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Photo of Soonami
3.02/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to ThoreauLikeAGirl for sharing this bottle.

SABM sounded like a flanders red from the description, but it is not. It looked pretty good, a rusty red with a little film of foam. One taste and it was not nearly as sour as expected or desired. There are a lot of dried currant fruit flavor, there is no funky, just a little lactic acidity. The beer has a metallic, phenolic finish. A disappointment.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
2.58/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a medium brown with an explosive medium tan head that fades quickly. It leaves globs of lacing on the glass.

S - Barley and malty. Not much, but some spices.

T - Sweet barley, fruity, spices, and a metallic aftertaste.

D - High carbonation, light body.

O - Sweet, Light, refreshing, but after taste is not pleasant.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Acquired this in the Hype Train BIF sponsored by urbancaver and received from RC0032

A: A small cap of head formed atop the bottle as soon as I opened it, and when I poured man was there a lot of thick foamy head, with nice lacing. It grows out of the beer like like it's on fire. It basically looks like my infected Black Albert looked like, not a good sign. The pour itself is deep mahogany.

S: Really smells a lot like a quad, sugar and Belgian yeast, not what I was expecting. Lots of currants, hints of apple, not getting a lot of cherries though. Musty.

T: Currants, lots of cherries, candied sugar, a bit of alcohol, musty Belgian yeast. The cherries really come up big on the backend.

MF: Light, over carbonated, bit of alcohol noted.

O: While it tasted good, a lot of factors make this an average beer. Sort of expected more from these two breweries, but I'm glad I got to try it!

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Photo of Jayli
3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from GBVDave in our most recent trade, so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!
Poured in to a pint glass.

A: This beer pours a deep mahogany color with a one finger of light khaki colored, sudsy head. Head recedes quickly and leaves minor spots of wispy lacing.

S: Nose is ooo - tart soured cherries, a bit of alcohol, and a good deal of soured apple.

T: Taste starts with a strong soured cherry flavoring, mingled with a good helping of alcohol. A good deal of belgian, spicy yeast fill the middle - balancing nicely instead of dominating. Finish is soured apples.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, rich and oily in the middle with a very sticky finish.

O: Goes down easily, tasty, not too filling, decent kick, nice representation of style. The alcohol notes lighten as the beer warms, and had this not leaked just a little bit, I may have aged it. A good beer that I would like to try again with some age on it.

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Photo of sliverX
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Matt (bauermj) for the bottle.
Poured a rich murky brown with a rocky white head some lacing
smells of sour dough bread, malt, booze, faintly of currants
taste is sweet malt, turning sour, tart fruits, nice saliva inducing tartness, sourness
Mouth feel is a chewy thin... has body but finishes watery
Overall I like it and is nice on a warm day, could i drink it every day no but its still pleasant in the surroundings

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Photo of phiberoptik
3.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

As the below reviews, Urbancaver for "testing" the over-carbonation rumor and proving it true, thus forcing us to drink it.

Served at room temperature and poured a deep mahogany, almost dark enough to block light. I could comment on the head, but most of that fizzed out of the bottle for the first 5 minutes it was open.

Smelled of a lot of alcohol right up front. Probably a bit young with predominant cherry/fruit notes. Fresh cut apples.

This tastes almost entirely cherry.. tart cherry. A bit of malty sweetness in the middle but little in the finish.

Very bubbly and poor mouthcoating as it pretty much was foam when it hit my mouth.

This would be interesting to try a bit colder and older.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes, 7-30-2011
thanks cam

this bottle was opened using thumbs. it was very over carbonated.

A - dark brown body, with a light tan head

S - smells exactly of room temperature fresh cut gala apples.

T - tart cherry primarily, maybe something that tastes like cola? could be the carbonation

M - goes to foam in the mouth, but otherwise its a decent body

O - it's ok, interesting.

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Small Animal Big Machine from Half Acre Beer Company
Beer rating: 82 out of 100 with 96 ratings