Beer Review 0248: Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Mexican Style Stout
Clown Shoes beers are contract brewed by Mercury Brewing Company, which is located in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There’s really not much information out there about the company, but the two beers from them I have reviewed so far (Vampire Slayer – 94 points, and Blaecorn Unidragon – 96 points) have been very impressive.
For the longest time, I avoided buying Clown Shoes beer because I didn’t care for the label artwork. That, and the fact that there were just so many big bomber bottles, I figured a new company with that many offerings probably wasn’t making the greatest beer. Boy, was I wrong. Now I actively seek out the Clown Shoes.
The beer featured today is Chocolate Sombrero, which Clown Shoes designates as a “Mexican Chocolate Stout.” At 9% ABV (alcohol by volume), this one is in the Imperial range, for sure. This beer is brewed with ancho chiles, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, as well as extra chocolate malts.
The pour presented a small, soapy head that lasted atop a strangely colored beer. The liquid was very dark brown with reddish and purple highlights, and a cloudy body. I couldn’t exactly tell about particles and sediment because the beer was opaque, but I’m guessing this is filtered as there was nothing stuck to the bottom of the bottle. There were a few bits of thin lacing left behind as I drank.
The aromatics featured each ingredient listed on the bottle in a prominent fashion. There were loads of chocolate and cinnamon, with a twist of sweet vanilla, and just a touch of coffee. This beer smells like a freshly baked brownie with a Mexican twist; the scents are somewhat basic but strong and there were even touches of dark fruit (prune). I loved the aroma.
On the palate, Chocolate Sombrero presents those ancho chiles, but not in a way you would expect: it’s much more of a bell peppery-flavor than a heat/spice flavor. It’s the perfect subdued start for this beer, which opens up into a cinnamon and chocolate bomb. BOOM! There’s only a mild suggestion of heat, and I thought it to be more from the cinnamon than the chilies. This one finishes on an equal mix of chocolate and cinnamon, along with some delectably sweet vanilla; the chocolate comes out more as it warms and as the finish unfurls. As it warms even more, this reminded me of a craft cream soda, only with chocolate. Mouthfeel was medium and creamy, with average carbonation.
Clown Shoes have done it again! A complex beer where the chocolate is like cake batter and the spices contribute a complexity and not an overwhelming burst of flavor. I really enjoyed this beer, and my only complaint is that I wish the chilies contributed a bit of heat. But the high ABV provides some heat — you should get this beer, it’s damn awesome.
Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero Mexican Style Stout, 95 points. Price: $7.99 for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.