Aging Beers: Clown Shoes @ Mercury Rexx Imperial Red Ale At Three Years From our “Vault” (Mercury Brewing, Ipswich, Mass.)
Date: February 13, 2018
The Story— Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, Mass., has brewed a number of beers for a number of contract brewers since it replaced the Ipswich Brewing Company in 1999. The road has not always been a smooth one and sometimes it’s been hard to tell if a misstep is the result planning or brewing. They’ve brewed with enough success to continue to attract hopeful entrepreneurs, however.
Happily, we’ve found than many of their strong beers cellar very well. Harpoon acquired Clown Shoes a year and a half ago and we’re guessing they’ll be good for the brand. But this is an old regime Clown Shoes that has held up surprisingly well. We thought it was one of Mercury’s best at the time– A huge rich intensely chocolate malt with the bourbon vanilla pounding on the door until it breaks in with a rush of boozy heat.
The Beer— The diminished head is not unusual even at three years. It’s big, rich, boozy and woody. It’s very slightly oxidized, but it isn’t unpleasant and some of that may be just oldish barrel flavors. Chewy rich and boozy, the Bourbon Barrels still hold their own. Some chocolate and toast emerges into the finish. It really hasn’t changed all that much — maybe a bit more paint thinner to the alcohol. Boozy then, boozy now. Ellie’s notes: big bourbon, some chocolate, really hot; so much bourbon so little beer. a sipper if you frame your brain to bourbon rather than beer.
Value — Fair. We paid $17.99 for this three years ago. It was a nice sipper this month, but for the money, we could have had two other nice sippers. The Clown Shoes prices varied widely. Choose carefully and there are bargains to be had.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
In February, we’re digging into our legendary “vault” where we’ve been storing hundreds of bottles of beer waiting for the right time to taste them (or sell them for charity). The charity market has slowed, so we’re working through them in front of a fire and finding some disappointments, but more very surprising delights. You can find the full list –eventually– here on this “index post.”
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”
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