Beer Review 0171: Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer Imperial Stout

Welcome to my first foray into Clown Shoes beer; this is a review of a beer they brewed for the brand’s second anniversary, Vampire Slayer, an American Imperial Stout. This is a big beer, coming in at 10% ABV (alcohol by volume), and is supposedly brewed with holy water and malts smoked with ‘vampire killing stakes.’

Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but we can tell you that Clown Shoes beer is brewed in Ipswich, Massachusetts by Mercury Brewing Company. There really isn’t much history about Clown Shoes on the Internet, but it seems like Mercury Brewing is a contract brewery that produces beer for a few different companies. They even produce craft soda.

While Vampire Slayer is classified on the Clown Shoes website as a “smoked Imperial Stout,” the bottle I have says it is an American Imperial Stout. The “smoked” part of it is interesting as apparently the malts used in this beer are smoked locally with hickory and ash…and of course, those ‘vampire killing stakes.’

I’ve seen Clown Shoes many times while visiting my bottle shop, but I’ve never been tempted to pick one up until I recently read some glowing reviews of this beer and another (which I also have a bottle of, and will be reviewing at a later date).

Release from bottle gave a small but lasting khaki colored head, atop a dark black beer. The beer seemed clear of particles and sediment to me, and although this was black, there were ruby edges at the bottom of the glass, which colored this one a little light for a stout. Lacing was excellent with a thin sticky coating left behind.

The aromatics were dominated by chocolate. Seriously. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Although somewhat one dimensional, who doesn’t love chocolate? This beer smells fantastic — there’s hints of coffee, too; along with a touch of smoke and some sweet caramel. I found this beer to be quite pungent, sweet, and dessert-like, with the smoke hints providing just a touch of bitterness to counterbalance the overwhelming sweetness.

On the palate, Vampire Slayer opens with dark chocolate, which leads to a very quick hit of sweet dark fruits, before transitioning into more of a basic malty middle that is creamy and toasty. The finish returns to the chocolate, which combines both dark and milk, hits a nice coffee note, and then turns smokey and woody — not woody in a barrel aged sense, but moreso smoked malt, which this beer does possess (aforementioned). The finish is complex, expertly juggling sweet chocolate, bitter/acidic black coffee, and a peaty smokiness. This is just lovely.

For my first Clown Shoes beer, Vampire Slayer is mega impressive. There’s great flavors to be had here, flavors that make you think, and the aromatics are nothing short of heaven. The only complaints I have are that the texture of the drink seemed a bit thin (although still creamy) and the color reminded me more of a Porter than a Stout. But really — this one is incredibly drinkable and it hides the big alcohol very well. Vampire Slayer is a sipper that I’m sure you would enjoy if you like Imperial Stout.

I need to procure another bottle of this quickly.

Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer Imperial Stout, 94 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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