Tag Archive: Clown Shoes

Genghis Pecan

Clown Shoes: Genghis Pecan (USA: Porter: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown dust of a head. On later pours a much larger brown froth.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Soft sweet nuts. Charring. Caramelized sugar.

Body: Peanut. Bitter chocolate. Brown sugar. Soft nuttiness mixes with a slightly acrid nuttiness. Slightly chalky. Slight milky coffee.

Finish: Charring. Bitter chocolate. Walnut. Bitter coffee. Chalky.

Conclusion: I have commented in the past about porters and stouts that have been such that “coffee” or “chocolate” seems an inadequate description of the flavours, due to the amount of layers covered by that one word. I never thought I would apply the same to nuts.

Maybe it could be because I am not overly knowledgeable about nuts. Especially pecan nuts. They are nuts right? Anyway, there seems to be a range of nuttiness here, from causal peanuts, slightly sugary sweet nut, to roasted harsh and acrid, to that slightly odd cashew style nuttiness.

So does that mean that this is the nut equivalent of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel? No. For one it is a porter, not an oatmeal imperial stout. More than that, well I don’t know if nuts just don’t benefit as much from the exploration, but it doesn’t feel as much fun, let alone as world class.

So, what is it then? A porter that leans towards the harsher end of the spectrum, roasted, charred and chalky, with even the chocolate and coffee coming in bitter. It is smooth of texture and manages to completely hide the alcohol whilst still being harsh of flavour. There is a delicate use of sweet nuttiness to keep in style but break from the harsher flavours, which helps call to the dessert pecan pie imagery.

The brown sugar and sweet nut rises over time, and the beer really needs that to keep it from getting too harsh and yet dull. It is kind of interesting in what it does as a beer, but not really special. Maybe nut fans will disagree with me, but it doesn’t excite. I think that it may be the chalkiness putting me off, the beer is harsh enough already and it doesn’t need the element for contrast. It just leaves it a bit dry and a bit off in the finish.

So, interesting, generally not bad, but not one that demands to be tried, unless you are nuts for nuts. The name, however, is awesome.

Background: After finding my first few experiences of Clown Shoes brewery to be ok but nothing special I asked around for recommendations of what stood out from the brewery. Of the names I heard back, the one that stood out was this, Genghis Pecan Pie Porter. A porter made with brown sugar and roasted pecans, it sounded like something to add a nice twist to a solid style. This was picked up from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. This is the 2013 bottling, drunk 2014. After I finished the review, I drank the rest while watching John Oliver’s section on the Ferguson situation – which I recommend everyone watch, it is both funny and painfully spot on. I realise while reviewing this that I really could not say what a pecan tastes like really.

Clementine Wheat

Clown Shoes: Clementine White Ale (USA: Belgian Wit: 6% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed grain with very large suded mounds of froth for a head. Quite hazy main body.

Nose: Wheat and pepper. Lemon fresh jiff. Light bitterness. Turmeric earthy hints.

Body: Bitter and wheaty. Tangerine juice. Mild gingerbread. Prickly and peppery. Robust up front, thinner at the end. Mild malt toffee middle.

Finish: Light bitterness. Digestives. Light zest and orange. Pepper. Lemon curd. Light peppermint.

Conclusion: Clown Shoes, take 2. Here they are using a very traditional wit base, but with a bit of a twist in the effects of the flavouring and spice. I say effects as the ingredients are pretty standard, coriander and orange peel, using either of these is not unusual in any way. However here the orange feels fuller and sweeter than most, while the spice feels more pepper like and dry. In many ways it inverts my expectations of slightly tarter fruit and more grounded spice.

The wheaty base layers the bitterness on a bit heavier than normal, and more notably the bitterness is more hoppy in style as well. What does this create? Well a more up front beer. The Belgian takes can go from overly sweet in some of the more mainstream efforts, to quite dry and subtle in some of the more traditional. This is more up front without being pandering, but still has some of the subtle lemon notes of the traditional take.

How well does it work? Well it is pleasing, the hop bitterness and pepper give a rough edge that works well with the wheat, and the orange is a good contrast. It has a limited range of flavours, but lines them up so they work reasonably well off each other. It doesn’t seem to be trying for challenging like Blanche du Paradis. or booming like not just another wit. It is instead an everyday enjoyable wit that mixes American hop obsession with Belgian wit subtlety and in that it makes for a good summer filled yet bitter beer.

Now a showstopper, but pleasant and brightens a day while still having some edge.

Background: Made with orange peel and coriander, which is pretty standard for wit beers. This was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. I was trying for an impressive head on the pour of the is, and went a bit overboard, resulting in having to rapidly sip the rising froth to stop it overflowing. Not much else to add on this one.

Hoppy Feet
Clown Shoes: Hoppy Feet (USA: Black IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of chocolate ice cream froth. Looks like a still coke float.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust. Vanilla chocolate. Custard. Wheaty hops. Milky coffee and milk. Choc orange. Hop oils. Vanilla fudge.

Body: Good bitterness. Treacle. Kumquat. Chocolate ice cream. Rough hop feels in the centre, smooth at the edges. Coffee. Condensed cream. Roasted notes.

Finish: Kiwi. Bitter. Chunk of hop feel. Bitter cocoa. Long lasting growling bitterness and charring. Passion fruit. Earthy.

Conclusion: There is a always a balance to be brokered with Black IPAs. What is gained from the hops pitted against what is contributed by the malt. On first impressions I would say that the seesaw of balance has plopped down pretty heavily on the malt side of things.

That isn’t to say it lacks hops. Well, mostly not. I will get back to that. This thing has a bracingly bitter finish, very long lasting and kicking. Before that you get a hop oil layer brought down upon the body, with a lighter, but still present bitterness. So, lots of hop bitterness, but not much of the hop flavour. You get a touch of earthy character, maybe a small amount of fruit around the edges, but for the most part the hops seem to be just dedicated to the bitterness.

The malt on the other hand, well I’m guessing it brings the full chocolaty taste, the milky character, and the fudge notes. Lots of smooth condensed cream like sweetness as well. It is a weird clash of texture, the bitter core feels rough, but the rest of the beer is very creamy.

So, anyway, back to the “Mostly not”. The malt does have a huge influence, which means that the bitterness in the aroma is very muted, and while you get the hop oils late on in the body, the early part tends to be dominated by the rising sweetness. This can lead to the beer tasting like a hoppy stout rather than a black IPA at times. It needs a bit more give and take between the two halves.

Now, the resulting beer holds your attention, but oddly, despite the bitterness. It doesn’t feel like a hop head’s drink. and I would know, I am a hop head.

It is a solid beer, and that finish is bitter as hell, but it seems to lack the wow or range of the great Black IPAs. They have the malt down perfect and the chocolate and toffee flavours are delivered in a luxurious fashion. It just needs a but more flavour rather than just bitterness from the hops.

Still not bad, but Black IPA is where so many beers soar, so the competition is harsh, and this just doesn’t measure up.

Background: This is the second time I have typed up this review. The first time I did it was just before I tried to play watch dogs. The game crashed, and crashed so badly that I had to restore from system image as windows would no longer boot. Thankfully I back up regularly so all I lost was that review. Watchdogs is bugged to shit. Ironically, this beer was first drunk while setting up that self same computer as I’ve invested in a new box. Anyway, I have heard good things about Clown Shoes, and I decided to give them a try. Playing it safe I went with their black IPA, a beer style that has rarely been done badly in my experience. Drunk while listening to Metallica: Justice for all. Because some times you just feel like some classic metal.

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