Half Acre / Struise / Pipeworks Small Animal Big Machine | Half Acre Beer Company

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Half Acre / Struise / Pipeworks Small Animal Big MachineHalf Acre / Struise / Pipeworks Small Animal Big Machine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Half Acre Beer Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Fruit / Vegetable Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by emerge077 on 06-08-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
53
Ratings:
97
Avg:
3.56
pDev:
25.84%
 
 
Wants:
23
Gots:
29
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 97
Photo of Arbitrator
1.44/5  rDev -59.6%
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 cpetrone84
1.9/5  rDev -46.6%
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 axeman9182
2.29/5  rDev -35.7%
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 HuskyinPDX
2.58/5  rDev -27.5%
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 Wadsey
2.58/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Small Animal Big Machine

Served in New Belgium tulip

A: Pours clear brown with amber highlights. Too dark to determine effervescence. Head and lacing is below average. 

S: Out of the fridge, main notes are dark fruits and vanilla. As the beer approaches room temperate, dark cherries become evident. There is another fruity quality, too, and I assume it is currants. Cocoa powder makes a surprise appearance.  Nothing  sour in nose. 

T: Okay, a little tartness joins above characteristics, but it is very, very mellow, earning a generous 2 on 10-point scale, with 10 as ass-puckeringly sour. The mild sourness is an issue because Struise himself called Small Animal Big Machine a red sour ale. The mild sourness functions to offset sweetness, of which there is a generous portion. Once again, the closer the beer comes to room temperature the more cherries and cocoa powder show up. 

M: Medium body and carbonation. A little heavy. Hints at syrupy, but never quite gets there. 

O: I'm giving Small Animal Big Machine the benefit of the doubt and rating it as a fruit beer. It certainly fits that better than a sour style.  In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of Bell's Cherry Stout, a comparison that will scare off some folks. 

Did they rush these bottles out the door? Or should it have been barrel-aged?  Whatever it is, Small Animals Big Machine doesn't come together for me and suffers from slightly below-average drinkability. 

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Photo of jrallen34
2.59/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Chris for this growler... pours a dark cola, decent head... aroma is terrible its all currants, pepper and generic chemical caramel... the taste isn’t as strong as the nose or it wouldn’t be drinkable, some cherries show, but the finish is terrible... tough to drink

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Photo of mothman
2.8/5  rDev -21.3%
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 AgentZero
2.83/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Chris aka spycow for sharing this with Alex and I at our BRUINS WIN! (and I don't care) get together.

A - Pours a brownish red color that ambers a little on the edges. Not much head on it and no stick on the sides.

S - Couldn't put my finger on it at first, but MasterSki is right, this smells like strawberry twizzlers. I'm not a big fan of twizzlers, particularly in my beer. Smells a bit harsh, with some cocoa and cherries and other weird fruit odors.

T - You can taste the currants, I think, it's some odd fruit. It's actually quite boozy, tastes like a hard mixed drink and has a spirit-alcohol taste. Some harsh phenolic yeast and a really bad finish. As it warmed up, it smelled worse, and started to taste a little better with the cocoa coming out, but the finish still killed it. Only reason I gave it a 3 instead of a 2 was that it's quite complex, although not real good.

M - Mouthfeel is actually fine, smooth, syrupy, somewhat active carbonation.

O - This beer is exceptionally hard to get down. I had one small glass and was done. I am horribly disappointed, and really had high hopes for this beer. It seems it's getting the Hellshire treatment from locals, or my tastebuds are just different from most other peoples'.

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Photo of Kayn169
2.95/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber poured into a tulip

A- Pours a burnt reddish brown. A 2 finger head head that pours not quite tan, but more than off white

S- Smells sweet with some cherries, possibly a touch of cocoa

T- The cherries in the nose are there, but not as pronounce as I thought they would be. I taste more of the currents than anything. Also a good amount of brownsugar sweetness, almost no tartness, and a very light spice hidden amonst the other flavors.

M- medium bodied, with a sticky linger.

O- I was honestly a little disappointed with this beer. When I read the description, about using sour mash, and calling it a red Belgian, it made me very interested. The sticky mouthfeel, lack of noticable sourness, and indicisiveness in style lead to the score. It was like a cross between a Belgian quad, a sweet amber, and just a touch of a Flanders red. It is worth trying, but I wont be seeking it out again.

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Photo of Soonami
3.02/5  rDev -15.2%
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 Thorpe429
3.09/5  rDev -13.2%
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 MasterSki
3.16/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

THIS PRODUCT IS NOW A BOTTLE-BOMB. HANDLE WITH CARE!

Thanks to Chris (spycow) and Alison for picking this up while I was out of town. Served in a Russian River tulip.

A - A late-rising tan foam settles to a thin ring, with some hazy swathes and minimal lacework. Transparent dark orange-red-brown body.

S - Red licorice, cherries, spicy phenolic yeast, some fruity spirit alcohol character (brandy? grappa?). Alcohol presences grows as it warms up, along with the sour mash characteristics.

T - Taste is actually a bit understated. The sour mash contributes a malt character that is similar to the one I tasted in Sour Plead the 5th. Doughy malts, some buttery toffee, and light tart cherries. Finish is tart currants, but somewhat unexpected and not totally integrated all that well. Alcohol is less present than the aroma.

M - Pleasant carbonation tingle, smooth pleasant texture, medium body, and a little bit of alcohol warmth in the finish. Some gritty tannic character from the fruit.

D - I really wanted to like this beer. I think all the different collaborators are great people, and all of them have made some great beers too. Unfortunately I thought this was a boozy, jumbled mess. Seemed higher in alcohol than the listed 8.5%, which is unexpected considering most of Urbain's beers have masterfully hidden alcohol. It's certain complex and unique, but in this case too many cooks may have spoiled the broth. Perhaps it is better in the bottles. I struggled through my one glass, and had no interested in refilling it.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.22/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to jedwards for sharing this. Pours a murky mahogany with a thin, cream-colored skim. Nose expresses grape, bubblegum, yeast and a sour mash quality. Taste is tart, grapey and vinegary. Cherries come out as the brew warms, but the overall taste reminds me of cough medicine. Tough to get a read on other aspects of the mouthfeel due to the extremely gassy carbonation levels. There's also a slight acidity. This was a tough brew to drink even split amongst six. This collaboration was definitely not a winner in my book.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.23/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a Lancaster shaker pint glass.

Not sure how to even approach this one, so just jumping in. It pours a mostly clear amber-garnet (heavy on the latter) topped by a finger of lightly dirty tan foam. The nose comprises maple syrup, light black grapes, light red apple, toffee, light cocoa, and light lacto. The taste holds notes of brown sugar, black cherry, raspberry, cocoa, and tart red grapes. Unfortunately, none of these flavors, nor the combination, really pops: they just kinda meld into one another. The body is a straight medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a kinda sticky finish. Overall, not too bad a beer, but one that just seems meek. No other word really works here. (For the sake of comparison, the closest I can come by is Enigma from New Glarus. Take that and water it down a bit, and you'll have something akin to SABM.)

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Photo of Spider889
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours with no head. Reddish brown in color.

Fruity but tame. Getting some cranberry in the aroma. Sweet.

Tastes of light caramel. The fruit is subtle but there.

Medium/light body. Sweet and sticky.

Nice beer, but hype worthy? Nah... the label is easily the best aspect of the entire enterprise.

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Photo of corby112
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

 799 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
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 cosmicevan
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
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 mdfb79
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
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 russwbeck
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
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 iadler
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
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 Huhzubendah
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
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 0%
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 phiberoptik
3.57/5  rDev +0.3%
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 SpdKilz
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up some bottles from the release at Half Acre. Shared with my brother-in-law. Taken from notes.
Appearance – Pours into a tulip with a hazy brown mahogany color. About a finger of off white head is achieved with a moderate pour that leaves slight lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell – Heavy currants and cherry, Belgian yeast, clove, nuttiness, and roasted malts.

Taste – Slightly tart at first but the more you sip the less tart it becomes. The flavors remind me of a brown ale with cherry and currant flavors mixed in. The Belgian yeast becomes more dominant as the beer warms, and as stated the tartness goes away and becomes a brown sugar/malty sweetness. I don’t know…the beer just seemed odd to me overall. I had a taste of it off the tap when I went to the release and remembered it tasting better than when I shared this with my brother-in-law. He too did not care for it and also mentioned it was reminiscent of a flavored brown ale.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, lower carbonation.

Overall – An interesting beer. Wish this was more tart and that the yeast and fruits mixed together better. I have one bottle left that I will be curious to see how it turns out with some age on it.

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Half Acre / Struise / Pipeworks Small Animal Big Machine from Half Acre Beer Company
81 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.
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