Clown Shoes

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English Barleywine
4.15 | pDev: 9.4%
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: English Barleywine aged in European Cognac barrels.
Reviews: 78 | Ratings: 643 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of IKR
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle stored at 52F

Appearance: Amber colored with some ruby highlights. Modest sized beige head that faded fairly quickly. Nice looking beer.

Smell: Primarily Bready notes with a touch of cognac.

Taste: Mild toffee, mild grape notes, and a touch of brown sugar. The alcohol is well hidden but the flavor elements come off as muted. Though this was cellared at 52F since it was purchased years ago the flavor notes come off somewhat muted and non-de script.

Mouth-feel: on the light side of medium-bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

Overall: I continue to be amused when I see recommendations to sit on bal-aged beer for an improved drinking experience. I had beer that weren't harmed too much but in my experience none have been better and i suspect I really screwed up by not getting to this beer much sooner. It's not bad, but I feel the flavors are likely muted from when it was fresh.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from 2014

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep brown with some slight mahogany highlights topped by a small light tan head which fades quickly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of huge malty notes, dark fruits, caramel and toffee with a little congac and oak
T: Taste is a little congac forward up front before some raisins, dark fruits, toffee, caramel, and some nice brown sugar notes come into play. Congac continues to make itself known along with a slight molasses quality to this one. Swallow is more congac and oak with some lingering raisins, caramel, toffee and brown sugar.
M: This beer is fairly full in body with a slightly sticky and syrupy feel on the palate. Carbonation is low but it is not inadequate while the beer has a drying finish from the ABV.
O: Overall this is a really nice English Barleywine that has aged very well. The flavors are great and the beer packs a ton of complexity while masking the ABV really well. This is definitely one to sip and savor. Worth a try if this makes a reappearance.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 properly cellared bottle, poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a medium to dark red-orange with a fine, half finger khaki head with great retention and nice lacing. Aroma of mild caramel and biscuit malt, figs, dates, raisins, dried plums and slight oxidation. Flavor is caramel and dry biscuit malt, dates, figs, grapes, dried plums, light woody vanilla and fortified wine. Lingering woody biscuit malt with light oxidation notes. Nice medium body with moderate creaminess and a silky mouth feel. A wonderful example of the more biscuity malt style of English barleywine with malted milk, figs and dates as the dominant flavors. Light contribution by caramel, cognac (mostly as a vague fortified wine flavor) and woody vanilla from the barrel. This has aged very gracefully, becoming deeply malty with well integrated dark dried fruit. Nicely done, as is usual in Clown Shoes big ales. Sure wish they distributed to this area.

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Photo of darktronica
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was the original barleywine that got me into barleywines, now one of my favorite styles. This bottle is now about three and a half years old, but it's still showing signs of life. Lots of cognac essence on the nose, with toffee, plum and cassia bark lurking not far behind. Showing a bit of oxidation on the palate, but not an unpleasing amount. Stonefruit, sherry and malt, with a heaping spoonful of good memories.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

clown shoes does big beers super well, i always look for and enjoy their strong stuff, and this old school barleywine aged in cognac barrels is a slow sipper for sure, but a really nice glass of beer. supremely sturdy on the malt, this is sweet with toffee and nutty notes, some caramel and dried apple as well, very thick, bready, desserty, and hefty. i like the yeast in here, it adds a neat breadiness to an already baked malt vibe, but the yeast is no match for all this grain sugar, and as strong as it is, theres still a lot of sweetness here. the barrels are nice, they dont overtake the beer (im not sure anything could, this thing is a beast). the cognac is smooth and sweet and i get flashes of woody port wine in here with it, light vanilla, raisin, toffee. lots of length here too, this smoothes out as it warms and i taste it forever, slowly coursing its way through quite a lot of layers. the alcohol intensity here is astounding, this is quite hot, but its also relaxed feeling with the wood and the earthiness, so its not like poison or anything but there is a whole lot of beer in this glass. one that i am sure would age gracefully, clown shoes has done it to me again with one of their colossal brews. if you like barleywine, this is a faithful interpretation of an english one, with a really unique and complex barrel profile. delicious.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bomber to snifter, the appearance was a hazy dark red color with a finger’s worth of white foamy head that quickly died off. Some light stringy lace. The aroma had some sweet caramel/toffee malts, light sweet cherry, some earthiness, some herbal qualities, light sweet wood, floral hop qualities, some dark chocolate, leather and a touch of tobacco leaf. The flavor blended all of the prior mentioned aromas fairly nice and semi-sweet and dry. Aftertaste was dry, sweet, woody and floral. Finish was quick, dry and semi-sweet. The palate was about medium bodied with a fair sipping quality about it. Carbonation felt fine. ABV felt fine. Some smoothness, but not too much. Overall, pretty good English styled barleywine I could come back to.

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Photo of CoreyC
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date 4-10-14 so almost 3 years
A - dark brown nice tan head
S - super nice sweet caramel and toffee
T - outstanding with sweet toffee, caramel, and dark fruit. Very subtle barrel. Very smooth with absolutely no bitterness.
M - nice stickiness to go with the style
O - excellent

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Photo of Treyliff
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a ruby brown color with a small foamy off-white head, short retention

S- smells of grainy malt, sweet caramel & toffee, cognac, dark grape skin

T- sweet and malty up front with notes of cognac barrel, dark grape mid-palate, caramel/toffee finish

M- medium body and carbonation, foamy mouthfeel and finish

O- cognac barely work well with the base beer

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.84/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

At a bottle share event.

Pours a plummy, raspberry color with a thin ring of head.

Aromas of plums, alcohol soaked figs, and apricots.

Flavor is a little harsh, alcohol forward with yeast, fig, and bright fruits.

Feel is light bodied but super hot and lots of alcohol.

Overall, not a bad BW. I'd have it again.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Type: 10-oz. draft
Glass: Clear snifter class
From: World of Beers in Naperville, Ill.
Price: $9.00
Purchased: Sept. 16, 2016
Consumed: Sept. 16, 2016
Reviewed as: English Barleywine
Misc.: N/A

Had this on my want list on Beer Advocate and was excited to get to try it on my first trip to the area. Decided that I was going to have two of the three big boozy beers at WOB (3 Floyd’s Moloko and Clown Shoes Billionaire), only missing out on Dark Horse’s Plead the 5th. Was really looking forward to it.

Poured a reddish brown amber-to-light brown color with 1-to-2 fingers of khaki white frothy head. Good lacing. Above average retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled dry tobacco, red sherry wine, toffee, caramel, very oaky and boozy. The dry leathery tobacco really dominates here. (Smell - 4.00)

First thought on the taste was, “Holy shit this is good.” Thought Firestone Anniversary or Firestone Sucaba with the first taste. Earthy tobacco, toffee, red sherry wine, caramel, oaky woody barrels (must be Cognac), dry-hopped Nugget and very sweet. (Taste - 4.50)

Full body. Creamy-to-sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth, warming finish. (Feel - 4.75)

This was really good after a slow start. Really liked it a lot. The taste and mouthfeel were just fantastic. (Overall - 4.25)

4.33 | 96 | A

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.87/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

"There are 1011 Billionaires on planet Earth as of this writing. We guess that most of you, like all of us here at Clown Shoes, aren't even close to being on that list and yet dream every now and then, billionaire dreams. Our fourth anniversary beer was crafted to make you feel wealthy: a sweet, rich and heavily malted Barley Wine Ale brewed with English yeast then aged in European Cognac barrels." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine Ale, available in limited release 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a creamy frothed head of a creamy caramel tone over a moderately hazy dark caramel brown body with moderate haziness, abundant, relaxed carbonation. Retention is average and lacing is light and patchy. 4

(Smell) Toasted bread and syrupy malt body with some soft graininess, a puff of alcohol and dark fruit sugars. Nicely balanced, not very complex but soundly built. Potency is moderate. 3.75

(Taste) The flavors largely follow the suggestions of the aroma, with a nice balance of lightly sweetened bread malts and dark fruit notes counteracted with a breath of graininess and warming alcohol on the back end, noticeable but respectable. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is smooth, silky, mildly syrupy, lightly chewy, mildly dry. Carbonation is light, generating a mild frothiness and a moderately crisp finish. Body is medium for the style, medium/heavy overall. Balance is nearly even sweetness to grains, esters and alcohol. Alcohol presence is modest and there are no off characters. 4.25

(Overall) A respectable and enjoyable English Barleywine that hits many of the right notes while keeping itself fairly pedestrian and not coloring outside the lines. The end result is satisfying but nothing too memorable. I am looking forward to see if barrel aging will have a positive impact on this beer's flavor (See Pierre Ferrand Billionare, upcoming). 4

Clown Shoes'
Billionaire English Style Barley Wine Ale

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Photo of Caveworm
4.41/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Billionaire | Clown Shoes. Bottled on 5/20/15. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, the head is three fingers thick, with web-like lacing, and a clear medium-fading-into-dark brown body.

Smells like some earthy funk with an almost carrot cake type of scent. Not detecting the cognac very much at all.

I taste milk chocolate, strawberry licorice, and an overall cognac flavor that's not too overwhelming. The fact that this particular bottle has been aged over a year might have mellowed the booze. I'm guessing so anyways.

The mouthfeel here is medium with mild carbonation. I certainly can't tell this is 12% abv either.

Overall, I'll give Billionaire | Clown Shoes a 4.25. I was lucky to see this on a shelf, which was a totally random stop into the shop.

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Photo of zac16125
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found some old notes, figured I'd post them. Better late than never. Guessing these notes/rating are from approximately 1 year ago.

A: dark mahogany, 1/2 finger light tan head, decent retention and lacing 4

S: caramel/ toffee, candied sugar, a bit if spice, booze 3.75

T: very sweet, candied sugar, toffee and barrel notes, booze 4.25

M/D: 4

O: good but a little disappointing 4

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Photo of GOBLIN
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sigh . . . I can't believe I finally opened my bottle of billionaire. Oh well, that's why we buy them right . . . To drink them ? This one poured a beautiful rich ruby color with no lacing. Aromas are dark fruits with the cognac lingering around for emphasis. Tastes luxurious and extravagant with caramel, raisins worn leather and oak are pulled together by the cognac barrels. Very little alcohol burn is noticeable. Though a couple of years on this bottle is probably to thank for that smoothness. Overall, glad I picked this up when I did. Billionaire has made for a really enjoyable drink tonight.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a murky dark reddish brown with a very thin white head. Light amount of spotty lacing.

S - Aroma is plums, raisins, dark cherries, and caramel malts.

T - The taste follows the aroma. Dark fruits upfront with sweet malts. The cognac appears in the finish producing a light alcohol warming.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Dry sticky finish.

O - A very good English Barleywine. A year and a half has really mellow some of the alcohol heat.

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Photo of BullDoza
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle I've been holding on to, bottled 3/19/14.

A: Mahogany, deep red. Awesome looking color. Small white ring of a head, bubbles fighting up the side of the glass.

N: Apple juice with a splash of cranberry. Dark berry. It's almost crisp smelling. Caramel. Malty sweet. Earthiness and woody undertones.

T: Dark fruit and vanilla dominate. Caramel. Sweet. The beer is harsh on the finish. It's bitter, more in line with an American BW...but not in a good way. Honestly, not enjoying it.

F: coats palate well enough. A "good" feel.

O: enjoyed this more fresh. The lingering bitterness on the finish is odd and unexpected - I don't recall it months back. What seems an astringent beer to me, the GF is really enjoying.

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Photo of LAp
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap, in a 12oz snifter. Pours a dark bronze, with slight head. Cognac on the nose, even reminiscent of a well-sherried scotch and raisins. Taste leads with warming alcohol, and sweet malt, followed with dark fruit and cognac. Mouthfeel is on the thicker side, but not too thick - ideal for a barleywine. Overall this is a great beer. Richly complex - a treat to drink.

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Photo of aoampm
4.59/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well apparently this brew is retired so I guess this one I'm having has at least a year age on it. That being said, it tastes incredible. Murky amber color with nice lacing. Cognac and sweet fruit aroma which matches the taste in every way. Has the feel of a sweet yet complex and flavorful beer that is a smooth sipper.

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Photo of pat61
4.66/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Reddish chestnut with a slight, tan tinted foam cap and slight legs. Smell: some cognac on the nose with faint sherry Taste: Attacks creamy sweet follwed by a charge of sherry and malts with a growing bitterness wrapped in cognac. The flavor profile is wonderful. There is some fruit in there but the intensity of the cognac, malt, alcohol, and hops make it hard to pull out the fruit. Has an aspect of drinking a bourbon or a congac with the malt and alcohol – very creamy. Mouthfeel: Very creamy and chewy, with some slight warming.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - The beer was a murky brown color with some bubbles along the sides of the glass.

Smell - A mild boozy aroma was present.

Taste - Toward the front, lime set the tone. It was followed by notes of banana candy, booze, and molasses. In the aftertaste, the booze lingers but does not overpower.

Mouthfeel - The cognac seems to add a clinginess the the taste making it syrupy in nature.

Overall - This us a great English Barleywine. It is a unique take on the style.

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Photo of spacecake9
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Dogfish Head IPA glass.
A - Pours a muddy amber brown with a thick head that settles quickly.
S - The aroma is of dried fruit like plums or raisins.
T - Sweet flavor of raisins with the alcohol noticeable on finish.
M - Medium mouth feel with low carbonation.
O - I really enjoyed this big, boozy Barleywine. Here's hoping Clown shoes brings it back next year so I can buy more. Next time I'll get an extra bottle for aging.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark brown with some red hues and a thin light tan fizzy head. Smell has incredibly rich sweet grape, fig, and cranberry. Light oak and vanilla tannins in the end. Taste follows the nose with rich toffee and husky malt forward with fruity notes of fig, grape and slight hints of musky oak. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation and a good sticky sweet finish.

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Photo of TheGent
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

I was excited to find a few of these in the bottom shelf of the cooler alongside a few other Clown Shoes beers at Berkeley Wine Company, in Berkeley Heights, NJ. I picked up two bottles for $14.99 each.

Drinking this one the day of purchase, and saving one for later.

A: Pours a translucent bronze with a thick, guinness-like light brown head that quickly disappears. A thin ring of foam remains around the edge of the goblet. The color ranges from amber at the edge of the glass to burnt sienna at the center. There is no visible carbonation. 3.75

S: The Cognac aging comes through with sweet notes of cognac soaked pears and bread notes of panettone. For a 12% beer the booze is present, but by no means overpowering. 4

T: Subtly sweet with dried papaya, banana chips. raisins and pears. Sesame seed brittle. Unfortunately these attractive elements slip away as the beer takes a turn toward an unrefined ale with a relatively bitter finish including burnt sugar and a hint of astringent ethyl. 3.5

M: Moderate body that is extremely smooth and airy. Like a pillow on the tongue. Very minimal carbonation. Pleasant warmth from the alcohol. 4.5

D: This beer is a good Barrel Aged Barleywine. I enjoy this style and compared to the recent ones I've had it falls at the less sweet end of the spectrum. This is not my preferred flavor profile for the style, but there is something to be said for achieving subtlety with such a big beer. Unfortunately, for such a big beer there is a lack of complexity, which allows the booze to shine through in an unpleasant manner partially on the nose and predominately on the palate. I hope this beer mellows over time taking it from the level of a good beer to a very good beer. Overall this beer is a 3.75

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Photo of beerbully
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Poured from bomber into HF stemware

A-dark copper with reddish hue showing throw when held up to the light........minimal head 1/4 inch not much retention........moderate lacing that slides quickly down the glass (3.75)

S-Dark fruits, raisins, booze, sweet malts, molasses, some wood, vanilla, mild butterscotch (4.25)

T-somewhat follows the nose but the booze is more pronounced...........malts shine through with lots of dark fruits........cherries, raisins, figs, ................cognac shows itself in the finish........sweet boozy beer.........mild wood (4.25)

M-Almost zero carbonation.........medium body.......sweet.......mild booze (4.0)

O-nice complexity......a bit sweet......alcohol well hidden (4.0)

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Sampling a cellar temp 22 oz bottle poured into a snifter. The beer pours a rich dark chocolate hue with a little bit of ruby highlights on the edges of the glass. A slightly frothy yet densely packed beige head of 2 cm foams up and fades to a wispy surface layer that leaves some lattice on the glass after each sip.
Aroma is boozy and malty, with molasses, brown sugar and maybe some black licorice. Definitely malt forward on the nose.
First sip reveals a thicker body with some stickiness on my palate with each sip. I also note very fine carbonation. All the physical traits make this a very drinkable beer
Flavor is similar to the nose, all malt and booze, some deep molasses hits and brown sugar, generally sweet and boozy. Maybe a little vanilla in the background, but I dont get any realy barrel aged wood profile from this bottle. I also dont get a lot if any hop profile on this beer. This is a sipper, but I also dont have much problem finishing the bomber solo in short time.
A very drinkable high octane brew that I would gladly drink again if I find another bottle.

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Billionaire from Clown Shoes
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 643 ratings