Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero

It’s not necessarily a Halloween beer…but it can be!

Chocolate Sombrero

Mexican-style chocolate stout: ale brewed with ancho chile, cinnamon, and vanilla extract,  9% ABV

Clown Shoes Beer, brewed by Mercury Brewing Co., Ipswich, MA

I’ve loved Mexican hot chocolate since my aunt in California first introduced me it to lo many years ago. (I mean, what’s not to love? Chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla – it’s a classic combination!) Later I also learned to love chile peppers of all varieties, fresh and dried, both for their flavor and heat. Still later I added stouts to my list of favored foods & beverages. It was therefore impossible (really, it was!) to resist this beer, and since I missed my chance to try it on tap (Lock 27 brewpub blew through their keg in a hurry!), I grabbed a bottle at DLM when I saw it.

Opaque black with a light tan head that starts out ¼” thick but fades to a collar and islands of foam after a short time.

Aroma of roasted malt, espresso, and cacao nibs, with underlying hints of cinnamon & vanilla, and I just make out faint dried chile. I definitely get the Mexican chocolate vibe. Very appealing!

No shortage of flavor here! Great complexity, and a very deft hand with the spicing. Opens with roasty malts, followed by a lovely bittersweet character with chocolate from the malts used, and then the restrained flavor notes from the vanilla, cinnamon, and ancho punctuate the middle. Very fine, tingly carbonation. Full body, with a smooth, velvety texture and some viscosity. A mild bite of spiciness arrives late to perk things up. When I gently inhale over some of the beer on my tongue the alcohol level becomes noticeable with a slight booziness, but on a typical sip it’s really not that evident. Finishes with a lingering bittersweet, roasty-chocolate flourish and gentle chile burn. Really does have an excellent Mexican chocolate character that doesn’t overwhelm the beer, but complements the base stout recipe. Dee-lisch!

I think it’s best when not overly chilled, as this really showcases the complex flavors and allows one to savor them fully.

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