Beer Review 0425: Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet 1.5 Double Black IPA

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Each year, Clown Shoes (contract brewed by Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, Massachusetts) release an anniversary ale. Sometimes, these anniversary beers go on to see regular production, as is the case with their first anniversary brew, Hoppy Feet 1.5, a Double Black IPA.

Originally released in the last week of December, 2010, Hoppy Feet 1.5 is is based off their year-round offering Hoppy Feet, which is a Black IPA that uses Amarillo and Columbus hops. The original beer is 7% ABV (alcohol by volume); Hoppy Feet 1.5 raises that bar to 10%, and the beer sees two dry-hopping sessions. Clown Shoes (and its drinkers, apparently) liked the beer so much that they decided to start brewing it year-round in bomber bottles.

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The pour featured an average size, creamy and lasting light tan head. The color of the beer appears black, but when held to light, it is actually a deep ruby red, and features no particles or sediment. Lacing is good, with thin, patchy sheets.

On the nose, this has pine and perfume undercurrents but features mostly malts: deep chocolate, some coffee, and lots of roasted and toasted notes. There are hints of smoke and grapefruit at the tail end of the sniff. As it warms, the hops (especially the pine notes) come more to the front, but the chocolate still dominates and creates a nice combination with the hops.

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The taste is initially quite wild — it’s chocolate with a blast of tropical fruits and berries. The best way I can describe it is to compare the beer with a dark chocolate that has a fruity center — it’s especially complex in the early sips, but opens up with a touch of coffee and that leads to a smack of hops that dominates the palate. Waves of bitter pine and grapefruit collide with dry dark chocolate, turning a touch soapy. Full-bodied, Hoppy Feet 1.5 has a medium mouthfeel that is foamy when swirled around the tongue.

I was diggin’ the initial flavors, especially the dark chocolate and berry, but the finish was a bit overwhelming on the bitter side and too much. But even at 10% ABV, this is highly drinkable and the alcohol is completely hidden, making this a dangerous brew…but the initial eagerness turned a bit to palate fatigue. Certainly not the best Black IPA I have ever had, but unique in the fact that it combines dark chocolate and tropical fruits.

Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet 1.5 Double Black IPA, 88 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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