Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Big Hugs Imperial Stout

Thanks to Jeff for buying me a bottle of this while I wasn't able to make it to Chicago for its release. And again thanks to Matt Gallagher, the brewmaster at Half Acre for giving me a look around and another bottle of this. Enjoyed Tuesday afternoon following the long weekend trip to Iowa City, Chicago, Madison and Galena.
Snifter Served

Appearance: Dark brown at the pour but still sufficient in clarity. In the glass it just looks like oil. The head is a dense, beige and large, standing at at least an inch for several minutes. Dissipation is slow, but results in a soapy spread across the surface of the beer. Carbonation can be briefly seen as the bubbles rise close to the glass. Wet speckled lacing.
Aroma: There is a big roasted bill, partially from the certain roasted/black patton malt. But then there is the partial roast flavor from coffee beans just beginning to turn color. It's all very upfront, but still consistently mild and not astringent. Some toasty sweetness intertwined, while an alcohol perfumes alongside. No fusals or solvents.
Taste: The start is faintly sweet of toast and biscuits. The carbonation comes in with a faint molasses sweetness and then BAM! a huge wave of coffee and roasted malt chocolate rinses over the palate, providing a sensation of omnipresence and domination. The second half has at first a chocolate liqueur flavor, that is thick and very rich. Next, alongside the burn one gets roasted coffee, chocolate and licorice to round out a spicy complexity. As the beer warms, spicy chocolate comes through, with maple syrup and persistent roastiness, and molasses. Aftertaste has a faint burnt flavor, but you know the grains are there.
Mouthfeel: Mild carbonation but a robust thickened body oils over the palate. The carbonation persists as it goes down, furthering the spike in flavor in the second half, but also providing a bit of an acidic feel in the throat. Very warming to the chest. Sticky on the lips and cloying on every orifice of the palate.
Overall Impression: This is a big beer at that. The coffee is very well incorporated, but still allows the grains to make the decision and pull the palate along on a ride of every malt flavor over 12 Lovibond. The alcohol is clean and paired nicely. A sipper for sure, and the perfect winter evening warmer.

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