A big beer, brewed in small batches with a cherry on top. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but for the most part that’s what the commercial description says you’re getting when you pop the top on a bottle of Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout from Bridgeport Brewing Co.

Bridgeport Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout bottle

In this case, the big and the small part of the above phrasing has to do with Bear Hug being one of four beers in the brewery’s small-batch Big Brews Series. As for the cherry on top, that has to with the addition of 15 pounds of dark sweet cherries per barrel to a beer with a baseline recipe that calls for a hefty dose of roasted malt and cocoa.

Of course, reading that and the beer’s commercial description, it’s only natural to surmise that Bear Hug is a beer that’s meant to wrap you up in “warm chocolate and coffee notes.” Yet, while there are elements of both of those flavors in Bear Hug, my impression is that it’s the cherry that leads in both taste and aroma.

Bridgeport Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout

In fact, I really didn’t get a tremendous amount of malt depth to begin with in this beer. There’s a fair bit of cocoa powder, but the coffee only comes out as more of a background flavor in the aftertaste. The cherries, on the other hand, stick around from beginning to end, with the fruit providing a small amount of both tartness and sweetness to the overall proceedings.

Other than that, Bear Hug is light in terms of body for a stout, and with an ABV of 7.5 percent, it’s a brew of only moderate strength. It drinks quickly, likely influenced by both those factors, leaving a dry palate and finishing with a slightly bitter edge.


Bridgeport Bear Hug Cherry Chocolate Stout
BREWERY: Bridgeport Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Portland, Ore.
STYLE: Stout
ABV: 7.5 percent
IBU: 35
PRICE: $6.09
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
Bear Hug is certainly not one-dimensional, but the malt flavors just don't stand up well enough to allow the cherries to play the complimentary role in which they were cast. As a result, the beer drinks more like cocoa powder-dusted cherries, than the cherry chocolate-infused stout that is suggested by the label. It's not bad, this Bear Hug, but it doesn't quite live up to the big brew billing.
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