Big Boss Aces & Ates


Big Boss Brewing Co.

Raleigh, NC

Aces & Ates Coffee Stout

8% ABV

My first experience with Raleigh’s Big Boss Brewing came about a year ago when a friend who had recently relocated there brought me a few bottles of their Hell’s Belle Belgian-style pale ale and Bad Penny brown ale. Having never heard of them, I was excited to see what they had to offer, but … well, I’ll go with “underwhelmed” to describe my first experience.

Things have been much different since then. My opinion of Big Boss began to change after having Harvest Time, their fall seasonal made with pumpkin and spices. And after Bryan at This Is Why I’m Drunk shipped me some of their Aces & Ates coffee stout.

From what I gather, Aces & Ates is a fan favorite. This year the former draft-only stout has been tweaked and is now a bottled 8% coffee stout brewed with coffeee from Larry’s Beans, which is adjacent to the brewery. The brewers – of both the beer and the coffee – got together and paired a variety of beans with the beer until they settled on one particular brew for the brew.

One bottle was all it took to officially file me in the “fan” category.

The obvious deep, rich coffee note is very reminiscent of fresh-ground beans brewed and then mixed with cream. It’s a rich, sweeter overall coffee note with the overlay of an almost chocolate milk character. Behind all that are some more roasted malts and just a very slight citrus character, sort of like a grapefruit.

The taste starts with a bit bite of bitterness on the front from the coffee. It’s got a very smooth mouthfeel with a good pop of carbonation on the finish that works well with the bitterness. That citrus hoppiness comes through in the middle of the tongue. There’s definitely a big grapefruit flavor to it. The roasted coffee is strongest on the back. It sits on the back of your tongue and lingers for a long, long time. The chocolate milk from the nose is very strong in the flavor. Instead, it’s a very bitter dark chocolate. That’s cut nicely by the hop bitterness in the middle of the mouth.

I love a good coffee stout and it’s clear a lot of thought went into making Aces & Ates. Knowing both brewers sat down and picked out a bean that would best compliment the beer gave me a better appreciation for it, and they certainly succeeded in giving me a better opinion of their brews.


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