Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA

Thursday, May 22, 2014
I haven't written about a black IPA in a while, is it still 'a thing' in e beer world? It's certainly not en vogue like it once was, but it doesn't look to be going anywhere in a hurry. Anyway, here's another new one on me. From the home of the style, the US.

Hoppy Feet by Clown Shoes pours a total, evil, pitch black. So top marks in that respect.

The aroma has less depth, with simple bitter chocolate and sticky resinous pine but not a lot else. That said it is a very full flavoured, extremely bitter beer but as I suspected from the aroma there is a freshness and fruitiness missing which I love to taste in black ipa.

But let's concentrate on what it does have, not what it doesn't. You get lots of bitter dark chocolate dryness, heavy roasted espresso and a finish which is all black pepper and resinous pine. The aftertaste is spicy, bitter and extremely long.

All-in-all it's a pretty heavy going, strong and straightforward BIPA which fans of hoppy imperial stouts will get on with more than hopheads.


Magic Rock Villainous Vienna IPA

Thursday, May 08, 2014
Magic Rock have long been an extremely safe-bet on the bar for me, with all killer, no filler being the aim when it comes to their beer range. So when I spotted Villainous - an all Vienna malt IPA - on the bar at CRAFT in Clerkenwell it was an easy decision to order a half.

In the end I ended up having three in a row, which in a bar like CRAFT is pretty much unheard of, such are the treats on offer. But when you’re enjoying a beer as much as I enjoyed this, why move on?

The beer pours a bright Iron Bru orange, only ever-so-slightly hazy with an unusual lemon sorbet coloured head.

The aroma is beautifully fruity with sharp orange, pine and underripe mango. The flavour is balanced (for the style) with a very pronounced fresh hop character, an underlying raisin bread malt sweetness and a flourish of floral, peppery bitterness in the finish.

The bitterness builds after a few mouthfuls and a refreshing almost menthol-like character becomes apparent as an extra top note above everything else, like a triangles 'ting' amongst an orchestra.



A Wee Bit of class from Williams Brothers and Brooklyn Brewery

Tuesday, May 06, 2014
I think the thing I like most about Brooklyn Brewery is the balance their beers always display. Even in their hoppiest Pale Ales or richest Imperial Stouts there is always an effort to make a quality, balanced, complete beer.

There is always lots going on in Brooklyn beers, but they have a poise and completeness that makes the beers drinkable, no-matter the strength.

But this beer, A Wee Bit, isn't the work of Brooklyn alone, it's a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and Williams Brothers Brew Co in Scotland – and it’s an absolute masterclass in drinkability.

Trust me, it takes a very steady hand to create a gluggable Scotch Ale brewed with peated malt, treacle and honey. It’s a beer that could so easily have ended up a sticky, overly sweet mess, or even worse something which has far too much peat and medicinal character – evoking thoughts of childhood scraped knees and the painful sting of TCP that followed.

But in the hands of the Williams Bros, with a little help from those magicians at Brooklyn, it has turned out as one of the most surprisingly drinkable beers I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. Like a sort of Scottish Schlenkerla Marzen, albeit not as powerfully smoked.

The initial aroma is that of BIG smokey-sweet frankfurter and woodsmoke with just a little touch of honey dipped pine needle.

The flavour is smooth and flavoursome with a nice smoked marzen like quality and only a touch of sweetness. There’s a lovely underlying roasted malt bitterness that combines well with a clear but restrained peated malt earthiness.

The peat is quite subtle but it's certainly there, something which Scotch whiskey drinkers will no-doubt be able to pinpoint much easier.

The honey and treacle don't really come through, but for me that’s not really a negative.

I was surprised how much I liked this beer. Which, as you may have guessed, was a lot.



p.s. I was supposed to be reviewing this beer as part of a live tweet-along the brewery held last week, but as usual I was disorganised and unavailable. So my review of this and two other new beers will be coming in three separate parts.