Sunday, November 11, 2012

Clown Shoes (Ipswich, Massachusetts)

Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp
A query of our waiter at The Great Lost Bear in Portlane, Maine, about a previously unheard of brewery during our 2011 New England road trip yielded a strong recommendation for Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet, a black IPA.  I was impressed enough to buy a range of bottles at The Ale Jail recently.

My week of Clown Shoes brews, in order:

Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA.  Interesting name and label. Inappropriate, just like a Belgian IPA.  Maybe that's the connection.  Very pretty amber ale with a creamy off white head.  Nose is light with yeasty esters and hop.  And the flavor is strongly hoppy with resin, orange and a hop bite.  Very well melded and elegant for such an inelegant name.

Pimp Double Brown Ale.  Big, dark brown ale with strong molasses, chocolate and a hop punch that balance a chewy sweetness.  As it warms, dark cherry floats over to the surface of 10% ABV hotness.  Could fall in love with this beer over and over again.

Clementine White Ale.  Orange and spice nose is pleasant which flows into a fruity taste.  Belgian yeast flavors blend well with the Summit hops, adding a punch of west coast style grapefruit.  Interestingly good but not great.

Third Party Candidate.  One beer that doesn't have a link on the website.  Says 50% Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber and 50% Loopy Oatmeal Red Ale on the label.  Creamy light brown head that yields a big hoppy nose with a strong caramel backbone. Promised hops show up in force on a surprisingly thin body, possibly heavily attenuated from the 10% ABV.  Evaporates on the tongue, leaving a heavy trace of hop.

Chocolate Sombrero Mexican style Chocolate Stout.  Light brown head piled up massively no matter how I poured it.  Glad I put it in a large Belgian glass.  Slight chili and vanilla in nose, but not aggressive.  Tongue explodes with creamy dark malt, big time almost dark chocolate and the ancho chili hits cleanly later on but isn't overpowering.  Vanilla and cinnamon hides in the back, which I might have missed if not on the label.  Second best chili beer I've had behind Stone's Smoked Porter w/ chipotle that I had on draft at The Republic last spring and reminds me a lot of a mole sauce we like at Taqueira la Mexicana on the south side of Chicago.

When I visit a new brewery--and it's not working out--I always wonder how the people running it seem to not be able to see problems that I, just an overly enthusiastic amateur, can easily taste.  Clown Shoes is the flip-side of this scenario--people who know beer that decide to create better beer.  From an article on Drink Craft Beer, Clown Shoes contract brewed through Mercury Brewing and it's recipes are the inspiration of liquor store owner, Jesse Dooley and his employees.

In short, the Clown Shoes process is to sample a particular style's range, brainstorm improvements to test batch, and then drink the results until epiphany dictates the one that goes to the big leagues.  Love this model, which, from my tasting notes above, I think should put an end to any doubts about the effectiveness of contract brewing.

Clown Shoes is producing some great beer, and when I saw a post that four new brews are in state, my first thought was to head down to get me some.  Unfortunately, my schedule didn't agree and I've yet to add more Clown Shoes to my list.  However, I will correct this error at my earliest opportunity.

No comments:

Post a Comment