Thursday, October 15, 2015

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1475) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 15, 2015
One of the most interesting flavor combinations is chocolate and chili pepper. I’ve been making a homebrew recipe based on that for many years, but I’ve only seen a few commercial brews like it. Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero is one example, and while it is a fine beer it’s not quite the chocolate/chili imperial stout I was hoping for. This is more of a strong stout that happens to have those flavors in it rather than having them front and center.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 8/24/15 and cost $4.10 ($0.34 per ounce).

Appearance: Typical dark black body with nothing visible within. Pours to a two-finger dark tan, frothy head which laces and retains pretty well.

Smell: An aroma that’s closer to a porter with a general sweetness rather than roasted malt. The cinnamon seems noticeable, as does a slight candy-like scent. Otherwise, mild with no chili or alcohol presence.

Taste: Going into this beer, I was expecting (and hoping) for a big sticky, spicy bomb. Since this is pretty heft at 9% ABV and the fact it is also a quasi-pepper beer, it’s reasonable to expect intensity. And it’s not that it tastes bad or anything; in fact, as a strong stout goes, this is what you associate with the style. There’s a light milk chocolate sweetness up front, akin to that often found in a porter. A little spicy/bitter sensation through the middle as the cinnamon and hops emerge. On the back end the chocolate is revealed – dark for a moment, but quickly becomes sweet and milky again. The pepper is very subtle as it does not manifest itself as a flavor but as a gentle warming sensation. In fact, I think the cinnamon and cocoa nibs or beans account for the spicy flavor. As a brew goes, this is certainly an interesting recipe, and it does taste good, but I feel like so much more could’ve been done.

Drinkability: There are a lot of pros and cons to the palette. On one hand, it’s thin and smooth and easy to drink. ON the other hand, the mouthfeel is much thinner and cleaner than you’d expect a 9% ABV chocolate stout to be (carbonated syrup would’ve been perfectly fine by me). Additionally, there’s no alcohol presence, which is nice; though for such a strong brew I’d expect it to be more robust and complex. This is a fine beer to pair with a chocolate or vanilla dessert.

RATING: 7/10

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