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Monday, August 18, 2014

Beer Review: Clown Shoes Crunkle Sam American Barleywine Ale

To follow up my latest blog article Barley and Potatoes and Rye, OH MY! - The Starch That Spirits Are Made Of I thought it would be appropriate to review a barleywine, which is not a wine at all but an ale made from barley. This is Crunkle Sam, an American Barleywine Ale by Clown Shoes. I paid $10 for a 1 pint 6 oz bottle.

Clown Shoes is brewed and bottled in Ipswich, Massachusetts so for me this is a local beer. A group of friends entered "Clown Shoes" in a beer-naming contest, just for fun, and lost. One of those guys, Gregg Berman, got inspired and all of a sudden they were making their own beer. I don't know how sales and placements are doing anywhere else, but they're doing damn good here on Cape Cod.

Crunkle Sam is a summer seasonal. The package, like every package that Clown Shoes does, is fucking brilliant. Uncle Sam is rockin' out at the Grand Canyon, boombox and all, drinking barleywine from his pimp chalice and setting off fireworks. He even has bottlerockets in a bottle. And, of course, he's wearing clown shoes. The ABV is 11% which, according to a colleague of mine, is actually not a lot for a barleywine. The same colleague told me that this style is best served with just a slight chill rather than the usual chill-the-shit-out-of-this-mofo approach that us Americans tend to have.

The ale is a rusty, hazy dark orange. When held up to light it reminds me of that tree sap jewelry with insects trapped inside, Jurassic Park style. The head is pretty thin and dissipates quickly. The nose is mostly grapefruit with caramel toffee and brown spices. There's also a tiny little bit of cherry flavored hard candy that pops up for a quick second now and again.

At first the palate is very lemony but once it warms up in your mouth it's basically liquid toffee. That, along with the full body of the ale and the creaminess of the mid-palate, gives me flashbacks to eating those Bullseye caramel cream candies. I fucking love Bullseyes. The finish is IPA-like with spice and hops.

Final analysis of this beer lies within a gray area. I'm glad that I had it and I truly recommend that you pick up a bottle as well, if you can. Buuuuuut... for me, it's a fun one-and-done experience. As much as I loved it, and to underscore I did love it, I just don't see myself buying it again. There wasn't anything profoundly intriguing enough to keep me coming back when I have the option to try a different wine or beer I've never had before, the other interesting beers from Clown Shoes included.

I would not hesitate for a second to recommend it to a craft beer customer looking to try something different, as craft beer fanatics like to do.

The bottle used was purchased by myself for the purpose of this review.


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