Friends With Benefits

Half Acre beer and Dark Matter coffee combine to make Big Hugs Imperial Stout

It's been a busy year for Half Acre Beer Company. Owner Gabriel Magliaro has brewed 10 different beers and opened a store in the front of his North Side brewery.

But there's one last thing on his 2009 to-do list: bottling Big Hugs, an imperial stout made with Dark Matter coffee.

This robust, pitch-black beer (which was tapped in the brewery on Friday) weighs in around 10 percent ABV. Coffee crafted by Jesse Diaz–the guy behind Ukrainian Village's Star Lounge and its house-roasted Dark Matter coffee–was added in the final stages. Diaz tasted the stout as it fermented, then concocted a blend of seven coffees (brewed using five different methods) to complement the beer.

The result, says Magliaro, is unlike any coffee stout he's ever tasted: It's smooth, smoky and fruity, not too chocolaty and not cloying at all.

But the yeasts went a bit wild during brewing, so there's less of the beer than they had hoped. Which means you should get some ASAP in 64-ounce growlers (available now; $20) or in 22-ounce bottles, which will be at the storefront after Christmas.

Sip it after dinner, pair it with steak or chocolate, or–per the brewer's suggestion–add a dollop of vanilla ice cream to your pint glass and call it dessert.

Half Acre Beer Company, 4257 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-248-4038 or halfacrebeer.com