Before the IPA was hijacked by haze or milkshaked with a dose of lactose, the stout was craft brewers’ favorite style to adjunct-out. You had your milk stout, chocolate stout, and coffee stout. They got barrel-aged, vanilla-laden, and spiced. But while that maple-bourbon-cinnamon-apple stout you scored has its place, it certainly isn’t a regular member of the rotation.
Instead, I’d argue there is something to be said for a beer with nothing to distract you from the core of the style, and an ABV that doesn’t guarantee you’ll have to split it to survive. A beer that drops the pretense at the door and simply delivers the flavor and feel you expect from a stout. A beer, it turns out, like Half Acre’s Original Reaper.
The Chicago-based brewer brought it’s adjunct-free stout back this fall with a wider release across its distribution footprint in four-packs of 16 oz. cans. Half Acre calls Original Reaper a “mid-weight, afternoon drinking stout.” I have to say that’s just an incredible line and describes the perfect style for the holiday season.
Original Reaper pours like a luscious imperial stout but with half the ABV (6%), boasting a deep, dark body and cap of fluffy, tan head. The aroma is soft but complex, with some char, roastiness and very little malty sweetness.
Much like the aroma, no single flavor sticks out, but unlike the aroma, the flavor is pretty robust. Original Reaper brings a good bit of bitterness in the form of char and chocolate with some dark fruit and coffee, like freshly roasted beans. What I love most is the almost total absence of any sweetness, a distinct departure from most stouts in this ABV range. The best brewer’s know restraint is as important as creativity, and Original Reaper shows just that. There’s nothing here out of place or hammering my palate—it just works.
Simply put Half Acre’s Original Reaper is the straightforward stout you need to be drinking