Piling out of their tiny car, they stumble one after another. Smiling faces with grins from ear to ear. Their faces white, noses red and feet hidden somewhere inside oversized contraptions more suitable to be used as flippers than footwear.
These clowns aren’t here to dance or juggle. They’re here to get you buzzed.
For the first time, I’ve delved into the lineup of Clown Shoes beer, the pun-loving Ipswich, Mass. brewery. Perusing a local Total Wine, I picked up two of their offerings to give them a shot.
But is the joke on me? … Let’s find out if I got the last laugh.
I imagine this beer to be fuel for the luchadores of Mexico.
Boasting its description as a “Mexican-style chocolate stout,” Chocolate Sombrero combines chocolate malt with ancho chiles, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Essentially, a Mexican sundae in a glass. If that’s your thing.
The smell certainly lived up to the hype, leading with the aroma of cinnamon but I got thrown off – pleasantly so – with surprise notion of chocolate-covered raisins and brown sugar oatmeal.
The flavor of the beer wasn’t nearly as “exotic,” boasting a chocolate-vanilla taste with a cinnamon finish. I was disappointed that the chile flavor didn’t make a strong appearance, but the bottle I purchased was actually a year old (the last and only one in stock) so I suspect that may have something to do with it.
If you’ve had this beer, perhaps you can elaborate, but I sensed no heat from the chiles at all, but at least a distinct flavor of the vegetable if I waited after each sip and focused hard.
As the ideological match of Chocolate Sombrero, I had to try Bombay Berserker, an “Indian-style chocolate stout” – just like all those people in India like to drink! The kitsch of this beer was likening it to a chai tea, brewing this beer with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla.
The ginger is strong in the beer’s aroma, but what really struck me is the mixture of that and the cardamom. Together, they seem to create some sweet clove-like smells that border on banana. I am not an astute tea drinker, but it did actually strike me as something akin to a chai tea I once had. Or, it’s just the marketing of the beer playing tricks on my brain. Any sense of chocolate is a wash, but it is easy to pick up vanilla.
Once again, the taste kind of let me down. As a standalone chocolate stout, I’d say it was fine – rich with a touch of earthy spice, but mostly just chocolate. If anything, it borders on a chalky Hershey’s bar. Berserker finishes dry, but is no doubt a dessert beer. I was just hoping for more variety from the ingredients.
The important thing to note for both these beers was that I appreciated the price point. Both came in 22-ounce bombers with a price tag of $7 or $8. For a 9 percent (Sombrero) or 10 percent (Berserker) beer of that size, I’d say that’s pretty good. On top of it, neither beer really disappointed me, but I was simply hoping for a bit more in my biased beer-loving state.
If any of you are a fan of Clown Shoes – I know Tom from Queen City Drinks is one – let me know what you like and what I should try. I’m certainly willing to see what else they offer.
- Name: Clown Shoes
- Location: Ipswich, Mass.
- Distribution: Across the U.S. (details here)
- Learn more at the Clown Shoes blog