Beer Review 0453: Clown Shoes Luchador en Fuego Barrel Aged Mexican Chocolate Imperial Stout
Editor’s Note: Beer 1 of 7 in my birthday beer week, in which I celebrate my birthday by reviewing beers I’ve sat aside for the occasion. I turn 31 on August 14. I advise you to celebrate your birthday accordingly, too!
Clown Shoes beer is contract brewed by Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Having only been around for three years, Clown Shoes have made a big impact on the craft beer scene, producing several high quality barrel aged Imperial Stouts — with accompanying reasonable price tags. I know that I was a little leery of the company at first, but after tasting several of their beers, they are some of the highest rated on this website.
If this beer sounds familiar, that’s because it is an amped up version of another Clown Shoes beer — last year, I reviewed Chocolate Sombrero Mexican-Style Stout, and gave it 95 points, or classic on my rating scale. That beer is brewed with ancho chiles, cinnamon, and vanilla extract; Luchador en Fuego, made to celebrate Clown Shoes third anniversary, sees all those ingredients dialed up with chipotle peppers added. Also jacked up is the alcohol, which registers 11%. Luchador en Fuego is 100% aged in bourbon barrels.
The pour dishes up a small, creamy, medium-tan head that quickly disappears. The color of this beer is very dark brown, almost pitch black; it’s certainly opaque enough to be called an Imperial Stout. At the bottom of the glass and around the very edges of the brew is some lighter cola brown color. The body appears clear and is free of particles and sediment. Lacing is good, thin but creamy in small patches.
On the nose, we’ve got lots of bourbon and all the associated notes like vanilla and a small presence of woodsy oak. The vanilla is quite prevalent as this does have vanilla extract in addition to the barrel aging. The malts are in full force, too; there’s ample milk and dark chocolate along with some light notes of coffee and dark fruits (raisins) and a general roast. The spicy peppers are here in the fresh garden sense — imagine a bell pepper you just picked from your garden, with just a hint of spice. Nice.
Luchador en Fuego starts out a bit weak with just some syrupy milk chocolate and watered down bourbon, but it quickly amps up into something very tasty with a big wave of dark chocolate and pepper. The peppers are more flavorful than spicy, giving off a tobacco flavor, but there is just a touch of lingering heat to be found. Middle of the mouth sees lots of vanilla, oak, and the barrel play out, along with raisins. The finish delightfully mixes dark chocolate, vanilla, and a sweet coffee to form a long-lasting, pleasant flavor that also delivers a bit of peppery heat, but moreso alcohol heat. It’s a gentle warmth that flows through the body as you drink. This beer is full-bodied, with a medium, creamy and foamy mouthfeel.
Overall, Clown Shoes third anniversary beer has excellent flavors, but needs more peppery heat. I like spicy flavors, so when I see a beer that is brewed with peppers, I get excited for some heat. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case; however, I still love the pepper flavors, and they play quite nicely with Imperial Stout. Luchador en Fuego is all about the finish, which is a sublime mix of dark chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Another great job by Clown Shoes.
Clown Shoes Luchador en Fuego Barrel Aged Mexican Chocolate Imperial Stout, 92 points. Price: $9.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.