FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK :: So a Clown Shoe walks up to the bar…

by Harvey Gold on September 11, 2014

Chase Cutting

Chase Cutting

Hard to say if this one is more a review of an ale or a review of the reviewer…. sigh. In any event let’s just cut to the chase.

I recently sang the praises of Clown Shoes, loving the name, the labels, the humor, and, of course, the beer.

So I was pleased to pick up a 22 of their Ride the Lion Wee Heavy Ale. Yes, tediously, once again, this takes me back to my days in Scotland when my virginal bloom concerning beer was happily removed by Caledonian Heavy. I’ve written enough about this, linking back to all my pieces about this type of brew, but I mention it again to underscore my enthusiasm level when I see a label reading “Wee Heavy.”

As I tend to do when the tasting is more than a pint, I had a pal over to share this with me, a guy who likes dark, complex and, as he puts it, “long” mouthfeel beers, ones who’s flavor notes hang on and offer up plenty of activity well after the swallow.
This poured nicely, a reddish brown, a little cloudy, with a short white head appearing as I pressed the point with the pour.

The twist on this tasting started with the nose. Big, sweet, caramel? So much so, I checked the bottle for what turned out to be the fine print telling me the obvious. This was aged in bourbon barrels, the nose, and everything following, propelled by a jet fuel 11% ABV.

This caught me off guard, as I’d just had a meal and was not expecting to dive into anything so NOT “wee” in it’s heaviness. First sips were, indeed, heavy with vanilla and butterscotch, sure signs of bourbon barreling. It was tasty but, for me at that moment, a bit much. Bringing some balance to the occasion, my pal happily found it formidable with that great length he was looking for.

photo credit:

photo credit:

With a purito and conversation, I forged on, trying to orient myself and be reasonably objective. I wasn’t tweaked in, given my predisposition to have been drinking a non barrel aged Wee Heavy, to compare it to a favorite of mine, Thirsty Dog’s Wulver.

But as it warmed… probably more correctly observed “as it had a chance to breathe” the heavy bourbon vapors leveling out, I found this to be a delicious brew. Everything lightened up, presenting a great balance between the malty goodness we love in a Wee Heavy, with that hint of sweet aroma and undercurrent of bourbon and oak. My friend also noticed changes in it as the session continued, but based on the intoxication of the cigar smoke and the high alcohol level (felt almost on the first sip this particular night), I can only remember all of his notes were favorable ones.

I’m looking forward to trying this again, but this time, letting it sit for a bit so I can pleasurably bathe in the entire draft. Oh… and predictably, on the label there’s a warrior woman with a great mane of red hair and a sword charging through the woods at you atop a ferocious lion. Y’know, standard fare. I won’t say she has a face vaguely suggesting clown makeup, but y’know…

nb : Always read the fine print.

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