I have to admit to not being very well versed in the Clown Shoes Brewery. They seem to enjoy making some slight waves with the different beers they make; however, I never really hear a whole lot of people talking about them. That is, unless they are talking about the name of a beer they created. Hoppy Feet seems to be the beer that they are most known for, but I have never actually tried that one. I had a friend tell me once it wasn’t really worth it. If you think differently please let me know. I have, however, enjoyed a bottle of their “Muffin Top” Like I said, they enjoy making a few waves with the naming of their beers. Having enjoyed that one to a certain extent, I was really interested to give this little bottle a try when I saw it in the store. Thankfully I didn’t need to buy a whole six pack because I would be looking for a way to pawn it off if I had.
Appearance – This one poured a very dark black color with a thick ample amount of head development on top. The head had a somewhat brownish coffee tint to it. The lacing was quite plentiful and managed to last for an extended period of time. Of course, the beer was far to dark to get any sense of haziness or carbonation. The head leads me to believe there is some good carbonation in here though.
Smell – The roasted coffee notes are the most prominent smell given off. There is a little sweet caramel aspect to it as well as some nice rich malty scents. A slight hint of hops rounds it off. Overall, I know they are calling this one a Black Ale, but it is coming across as a black ipa to me.
Taste – The combined coffee and hops slam your tongue almost immediately. For most darker beers, I note the nice sweet malty intro, but that really isn’t present here. The sudden blast of these two rather bitter aspects is more off-putting than enjoyable. Typically I like this mixture, but the coffee is far too bitter and powerful to be combined with such a high amount of hops. That immediate hit of so much bitter makes for a rather strange mixture of flavors. The saving grace here is the roasted flavors that come in on the aftertaste. Once you get through the strong coffee and hops flavors, you have a warm roasted flavor hidden behind to mellow the flavors. If it wasn’t for the intro to the taste, I would probably like this beer a lot more.
Mouthfeel – There is an ample amount of carbonation with practically no syrupy quality here. I, however, think backing off the carbonation and upping the syrupy feel would mellow out this beer a little. Allowing it to warm did this slightly, but it never really got to a point where I thought it was great. The bitterness of the two main aspects are too strong to overcome even with the pleasant roasted aftertaste.
I wanted to like this beer, but I just didn’t really enjoy it. I won’t allow it to fail because of the aftertaste, but I have it teetering there right now. Beer Advocate has this one a lot higher than I would go, but I guess I just have a different opinion here. I haven’t given up on Clown Shoes just yet, but I’m hoping my next beer from them will be a lot better.
Teacher Grade: D