Friday’s beer run to the Four Seasons Beer Store came with the usual dilemma: is it still too soon in the season for stouts? I walked into the store with a lot of time and just a little money to spend. I hoped to scrutinize and hopefully commit to memory (pfft!) some of the new beer selections and also to read labels. I briefly scanned the DFH and Flying Dog sections and made my way over to the bombers.
As was my plan last week, the Blackheart IPA from Three Floyds had only two bombers left but Apocalypse Cow still had a decent population. That could wait. Two beers of the same style from the same brewery two weeks in a row may be a bit of overkill. I glanced down the line.
The three Sam Adams Barrel Collection styles stood side by side. Hmm, maybe. But it may be too soon. Nearby was a newcomer that I’d seen a couple of weeks before, but I knew nothing of the brewery. There were other styles of beer from the same brewery seemingly scattered about on the shelf and in the cooler.
This heretofore unknown brewery calls itself Clown Shoes and the bomber I had in my hand was one they called Brown Angel Double Brown Ale. Now I swear to you this was my thought process: “Hmm. A double brown ale. How can a brown ale be double brown? Hey. Nice booty.”
Pictured on the label was a sort of aft to forward looking profile of a winged bronze babe in bikini. Honest to Ralph, I spotted her milliseconds later on. I may need to seek out an eye doctor. Or a zymurgist.
Honestly, a double brown ale truly piqued my interest. Also it wasn’t a stout. This Brown Angel weighed in at a nice 7% and I wondered if two bombers’ worth (four glassfuls) at 7 bucks a bottle would be worth it. Meanwhile, just above on the shelf, that double chocolate stout said, “Hey! I’m still here.” A brief lapse and another look at what I held in the palm of my hand. A double brown ale with a nice booty. Welp, that was it. I grabbed another and emptied my wallet at the checkout counter. Still. 14 bucks for two double browns. I hoped it would be incredible.
Back home, I stashed the beer in the kitchen fridge (the Manly Garage is officially closed now that sub-freezing temps have arrived) and went back to the Mac for the remainder of the time I had available. My wife presented me with a box which had arrived. I had no idea what was in it, I hadn’t ordered anything recently.
The glass came with a small brochure explaining a little bit of the origin and history of the Geordie Schooner which is what it was called. Interestingly, Geordies live in the Northeast part of Great Britain and seem to be the brunt of jokes all because of their accent. The glass’ name, however, had nothing to do with Star Trek. Geordies were named such way back for their loyalty to one of the Kings George. (Link)
If you care to dig deeper, watch this. (Embedding disabled because they want you to watch an ad. Bloody bastards.)
When Saturday night beer time rolled around, I was oh so ready. With the new schooner glass positioned on the computer desk, I opened and poured the first taste of double brown booty ale.
The beer poured with a nice dark brown color (!) and brought up a decent half-inch’s worth of light tan foam. Holding it up to the desk lamp revealed some nice ruby or scarlet colors intermingled with the brown. The aroma was barely there but I detected that familiar malt smell. No hops in the nose. Yet. The foam was going away.
The first sip was an eye opener. The beer was an all malt show, but the malts that the brewery selected were what gave this beer its unique flavor. There was a lotta stuff going on with the initial sips and it was too soon to start dissecting flavors. The beer was quite cold and the taste was new in the mouth. Time. Give me a bit of it.
The minutes clicked away and more sips went down. Deeper flavors started to come through and the malts started revealing themselves. There was a nice hint of roastiness. Some minute hints of chocolate and coffee arose and disappeared with each sip. Then the hops started to show up. I was suddenly hit with memories of beers past.
This beer could be considered a distant cousin of Newcastle Brown (or was that just the glass talking?) but to me it didn’t taste quite English enough. That twinge of British malt bitter was not the same in this beer. It also reminded me of Bell’s Two Hearted, a brown ale with a hop sock to the jaw, the American way. In this beer, however, the hops were there, I could taste ‘em, but not on the scale of what I remembered from Two Hearted.
How does this beer compare to a porter? Man, it’s close. But then again, at what exact point on whatever scale there is does a beer change from a brown ale into a porter and then into a stout? (Rhet…) You may be able to pinpoint that spot on a graph or chart if all of humanity’s tastes buds were identical. This beer is hitting the ceiling below a mild porter. Nonetheless, why split hairs where beer styles are concerned?
As the beer warmed up, the flavors became bolder and the beer became so much more enjoyable. The malts with their slight roasty-toastiness were relentless. The hops came and went like a Whack-a-Mole game. At the swallow, the bitterness was a combination of the two main elements, malts and hops with the carbonation kicking in its two cents’ worth. The beer was not very sweet but there was some subtle sweetness in each sip to please the remaining unpummeled taste buds. Lagunitas’ Brown Shugga? No, not that sweet. The entire tongue was well pleased.
Nicely placed along the ABV scale, the beer at 7% made the price of admission well worth it. The Clown Shoes website states the beer has 40 IBUs and that makes it nicely bitter without going overboard. Interestingly, they say that the beer was brewed with Columbus and Amarillo hops, both American varieties. The beer finishes with a dollop of East Kent Goldings which is decidedly British. We have a melding of hoppiness that spans an ocean. The amount of hops and the choice of varieties made this beer truly enjoyable. That and the malts. But then again, it just might be the glass. Pfft! Look at that lacing. Oh, yeah.
For this beer geek, Clown Shoes, however goofy the name may be, has a winner with this beer. It’s a barbershop quartet of near perfect taste all in tune. Nicely roasted slug of malts and an accompanying jolt of hops without getting carried away. I most certainly will be looking at all their other styles available with a different mindset. Settle back with a bomber or two of these Angels and all will be right with world. Right in the palm of your hand. (!)
Taste: A > May turn your tongue brown. But it’s a nice brown. A double brown.
Smoothness: A-> A veritable malt/hop synergy.
Drinkability: A- > Damn. Shoulda picked up another one.
Bang for the buck: B+ > Near perfect price for a near perfect taste.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Yeah, kinda dark. (sniff) It’s got that coffee smell. (sip) You don’t get it til it goes down. (sip) It’s real coffee to me. (sip) It’s not quite bitter but a little dry. (sip) For a darker one it’s pretty good. And you don’t get a lot of aftertaste. And that’s pretty good. (Heaven forbid we get an aftertaste. Of coffee no less!)
Chocolate brown bootie – (I’m so very sorry.)
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