Hammer Of The Holy | Clown Shoes

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Hammer Of The HolyHammer Of The Holy
363 Ratings
Hammer Of The HolyHammer Of The Holy

Brewed by:
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Hammer of the Holy, an American Imperial Stout aged in 40-year old Jamaican rum barrels, incorporates holy water, signature dark malts, and malt smoked with vampire killing stakes. Dear Undead, "Die, monsters, die!"

Added by jim_carignan on 11-23-2013

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Ratings: 363 |  Reviews: 58
Reviews by mj81:
Photo of mj81
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

More User Reviews:
Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

BOTTLE: Brown glass. 1 pint 6 fl oz. Great label art. Branded pry-off pressure cap. 2015 vintage; 450 cases were released this year.

Reviewed live as an imperial stout aged in rum barrels per the label. I'm suspicious of the statement about bourbon barrels being "reconditioned" with rum, and when I inquired, Clown Shoes claimed they couldn't elaborate due to a NDA. Suspect, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt.

11% ABV. Served cold into a pilsner glass at low altitude in Austin, TX, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Nice tan colour. Has superb creaminess, with a soft appearance and an even, smooth consistency. Great complexion. Retention is good for the high ABV - ~5 minutes. Leaves no lacing as it recedes.

BODY: Predictably, it's an opaque solid dark black. Not an ink or jet black, but dark. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible given its opacity.

Appears well-carbonated. It's a good overall appearance for an imperial stout, but isn't unique or special within the style.

AROMA: The barrel character is prominent, with vanilla from the bourbon & rum as well as a hint of sugarcane rum goodness. The barrel melts into the base beer, which brings stellar notes of chocolate malt, baker's chocolate, cocoa, dark malts, marshmallow, cream, malted milk/whoppers, faint raisin, and toffee. The barrel character, though dominant, doesn't seem to eclipse the base beer. I do long for some roasted barley presence, and some coffee might help curb the apparent sweetness, but this seems balanced overall and never suggests a cloying beer. The authentic vanilla is a stand-out characteristic, and I like the seamless blend of bourbon and rum character, though more of a toasty oak presence would really set off the barrel notes nicely.

There's no detectable hop or yeast profile, and I find no off notes.

Aromatic intensity is moderate.

TASTE/TEXTURE: The barrel character steals the show, with subtle-yet-dominant notes of bourbon-derived vanilla, faint rummy sugarcane, barrel sugars, and some mild char. Sticky marshmallow in the base provides the glue that holds this cohesive build together, complemented aptly by the sticky sweet dark malt and chocolate malt foundation. Additional complexity comes from malted milk balls/whoppers, softening cream, brewer's chocolate, a kiss of raisin, and a hint of rummy molasses.

There's a nice marriage of texture to taste, with the creamy, soft, smooth, and wet feel accenting the vanilla (my favourite note in the whole profile). It has an apt medium to full body, plenty of stickiness (which may turn off some drinkers), and ample heft and weight on the palate without ever feeling overbearing. It's slightly overcarbonated to its detriment, and as one drinks more she may note that its stickiness draws out the beer's sweetness too much, but overall this mouthfeel is appropriate both for the style and the flavour profile. Still, a bit more coarseness and dryness would be nice, and would ideally complement a roasted barley note.

Indeed, the absence of more bitter notes like roast and coffee to balance the sweetness (which intensifies as it warns) holds the beer back. Additionally, it's surprisingly shallow in terms of oak and/or toastiness considering its 8 months of barrel aging.

Still, it's a cohesive build. It's not quite a gestalt whole, and I wouldn't say it's more than the sum of its parts, but I do like it and it's mostly balanced, save for that pesky sweetness. Definitely a dessert beer, but it hides its ABV well enough that it's not a sipper per se. Other reviewers have noted smoke; I find none at all whatsoever. Also, aside from the oddly smooth and wet mouthfeel, I find no trace of oatmeal (at least in terms of taste).

Admittedly, I expected far more of a rum presence. The mild rum here is a bit disappointing, especially when you compare this to, say, Avery's rum barrel aged beers. More commitment to the rum barrel would be ideal.

Overall presence on the palate is nice.

As it warms, faint notes of plum and date emerge.

OVERALL: Those hoping for a rum-heavy imperial stout will be disappointed, but this is on par with Clown Shoes' other offerings in that it's a pretty good but not great imperial stout with plenty of potential. The base could use some additional intricacy, and the barrel notes should be more evocative. It's not a highly expressive brew, but it'd be unfair to call it shallow. I'm glad I tried it once, but wouldn't pick it up again at its unreasonably high price point.

It's not the sipper it should be at 11% with barrel aging, and drinks surprisingly easily - which is one of its better attributes. I do wonder why the smoke isn't coming through. Oats are poorly implemented, lending it an unnecessarily smooth and wet feel. The discerning drinker will be appeased but unimpressed.

B- (3.36)

 4,981 characters

Photo of Roguer
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark tan head, decent retention, nice lacing. Solid black brew, as expected.

Nice strong stout aroma, with noticeable notes from the rum and oak. (Really, the rum is indistinguishable from bourbon on the aroma.) A bit of cocoa and raisins, but the barrel is really dominating.

Flavor follows, with a nutty, woody, rum-dominant flavor. A bit of smoke is noticeable, growing in strength on the back-end. Some dark fruit (not particularly tart) mingled with chocolate and roasted barley.

There's an odd, woody, not-quite-right flavor in the brew - not an off flavor, exactly. I attribute it to the rum, although it could as easily be due to the smoke. There's something just not quite to my liking in here.

As it warms, it becomes noticeably more fruity, and the smoke and rum mellow out significantly. That improves the flavor significantly, but at the same time, makes it come across more as a barrel aged English barleywine.

Thick, cloying, long wet finish; super drinkable for 11% ABV.

An interesting beer, worth a try. I have a feeling that most will either love or hate this brew.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.49/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got a bottle of Clown Shoes Hammer Of the Holy that was sent to me by Sean, thanks a lot Sean! I thought I missed my chance to try this beer, but Sean gave me a second chance to give this one a try, so lets see how it goes. 2013 Vintage. Poured from a brown 22oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks nice and it does a good job of matching with the name and it reminds me of a card you could draw in some fantasy card game. It poured a nice dark black color that that didn't let any light come through and it had two fingers worth of light mocha colored head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some spotty and patchy lacing behind. This is a very nice looking beer, I have no complaints at all.

S- The aroma starts off with a slightly lower amount of high sweetness followed by the malts being the first to show up and they impart a nice dark roasted malt aromas with some roasted and chocolate aromas seeming to stick out the most along with just enough smoke coming through in the background. Up next comes the rum barrel which shows up nicely and is on the stronger side of medium, they impart some slightly woody, caramel, butterscotch, spices, and vanilla aroma with a slightly boozy aromas showing up in the background. This beer had a very good aroma, I really enjoy what the rum barrels added to the base of this beer.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a lower amount of high sweetness followed by the malts being the first to show up and they impart all the same aspects that they did in the aroma, but this times there's a little bit of dark fruit flavors that mix in with the roasted and chocolate flavors. Up next comes the smoke which is right about at medium and it's followed by the rum barrels which impart all of those great aspects that they did in the aroma and it seems to show up the same amount with those spicy, vanilla, and caramel flavors coming through the most. On the finish there's a lower amount of bitterness with a slightly boozy flavors and smokey, chocolate and light rum barrel like aftertaste. I thought this was a very good beer, the rum barrel showed up just enough and it worked great with the base beer.

M- Pretty smooth, a little rich, slightly crisp, velvety, on the lighter side of being full bodied with a slightly lighter amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was very good and it worked very well with this beer, I have no complaints.

Overall I thought this was a very good beer and a very good example of a barrel aged Imperial Stout, all the aspects from the base beer came through like they should and they worked really nice with the complex rum barrel aspects. This beer had pretty good drinkability, it was pretty smooth, a little rich, slightly crisp, velvety, not too filling and the taste did a good job at holding my attention, I don't think I would have a problem drinking a full bottle to myself, but I still think it's a nice beer to share and it's a great cold weather beer. What I liked the most about this beer was how well the 40 year old rum barrels worked with the smokey imperial stout base, they were a perfect match. What I liked the least about this beer was nothing, there wasn't anything that I disliked about this beer and there's isn't anything that I could think of to make it a better beer. I would for sure buy this beer, if I see it I will buy it as quickly as I can and I would recommend it to anyone who likes barrel aged imperial stouts, I think it's honestly a must try beer. All in all I really enjoyed this beer, I was a big fan of Vampire Slayer and I wasn't sure how the rum barrels would work with this beer, but that worked out really well and I think it's safe to say that I like this beer a little more than Vampire Slayer. I think it's my now my favorite Clown Shoes beers, it's my favorite rum barrel beer by a long shog and it's up there as one of the better barrel aged stouts I've had. Clown Shoes gave the base beer the right barrel treatment and it really payed off in the long run, they are becoming one of my favorite out of state breweries and I am they are continuing impressing me with there unique and creative beers. Great job guys, this was one awesome beer, keep up the great work. Thanks again Sean, you guys make some awesome beers.

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Photo of jlindros
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a super dark charcoal colored thick semi creamy 1/2 finger head that fades at a fairly quick rate, little lacing, typical for 11% imp stout, pitch black thick beer with no light coming through, nice legs on the glass too.

Nose starts right off with rum, right from the second I pooped the top, the rum, however, is just the booze vaporizing out if the glass, because as soon as I nose deep in the glass it's skill dark malts. Tons of dark choc and cocoa, melting bakers choc, mild biscuit malt dough like malted milk ball, a nutty toffee and some caramel, light grainy biscuit like, little roast and coffee, then into mild smoked malt and smokey log.

Taste starts big and tasty, rich dark malts right off, tons of cocoa and dark choc, a creamy cocoa, bakers choc, etc. And a rich creamy center, with hint of milk choc and some oats. Then mild smoked malt, little smoldering log but the smoke is pretty mild, just enough to add a nice smoked character. Into mild roasted malt which brings coffee but doesn't really get acrid thankfully, but more malts with little caramel, toffee, and little nutty character. There are some earthy hops in the background, just enough to poke through, with mild to fair bitterness. There is a mild barrel note with little vanilla, and some rum flavor but not a lot, just enough to take the edge off, as just a hint of booze comes through would probably be hot otherwise. Finish is sticky and little syrupy, more cocoa and dark choc, hint of smoke and roast, little earthy hop, and mild rum barrel and vanilla lingering. As it warms bit if rummy booze on the back of the throat.

Mouth is big bod, rich and creamy, heavy, decent fluffy carb, just a touch warning booze.

Overall very nice, all the components that could ruin the beer, rum, roast, smoke, booze, etc, are held in check, but still there enough to add nice characters without being too heavy. Nice barrel notes, great dark choc and malt sweet characters. Pretty tasty and surprisingly drinkable.

 1,996 characters

Photo of TheBrewo
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

We crack a bomber, pouring a brew of midnight black into our fat tasting snifters. It pours like cement, with neither the liquid nor the head shifting a millimeter for a solid few minutes. To state the obvious, retention is fantastic. Lacing is ridged and etched into bulbous craters once finally allowed to. No haze or sediment is appreciated, and carbonation appears to be slow and light. The aroma gives an immediate air of warming, thickly oaky dark rum, intensely roasted and smoked chocolate, black, and coffee maltiness, big tinny metallics, heavy and syrupy diacetyls, phenolic clove and bite of burnt plastics, shaved coconut fruitiness, floral hoppiness, plum and black cherry flesh, fumy booze, cooling vanilla bean and milkshake lactics, and chalky medicinals. Our first impression is that a smokiness billows out that was otherwise well hidden within the aroma, making for a unique heaviness of flavoring that is unknown to many stouts. As we sip, the taste opens with dark chocolate syrup, fudge brownie, warmed rum cake, creamed corn, roast and smoke of dark chocolate and black maltiness, medicinal phenols, black cherry fruitiness, aged and moldy oaky bitterness, and soy sauce saltiness. The middle peaks with white and burnt brown sugar sweetness, souring lactic acidity, vinyl plastics, creamy buttery diacetyls, bittered and charred black and coffee maltiness, smoked oak, prune sugars, background rum spiciness, and general black pepper booziness. Washing through the end comes a hearty sweetness consisting of rum raisin ice cream, candied pecans, milk and dark chocolate creaminess, and blackberry juiciness, with bitter soapy hops, campfire smokiness, cold chocolate milk, and a revival of those medicinal phenols. The aftertaste breathes of bright rummy booziness, chalky yeast, drying cocoa powder, pencil woodiness, fumes of paint thinner, dusty book spine, aluminum, moldy musk, blackberry, blueberry, and plum fruitiness, salt water taffy, stamp adhesive, and bitter coffee roast. The body is thick and chewy, and the carbonation is medium, but with some good prickle on it. Slurp, smack, cream, froth, and pop are all nicely contributory and well executed. The mouth is left slick with a heavy, sugary coating. This sits for some time, but eventually lets the pucker and a bit of chalky astringency break through and dry the mouth. The abv is appropriate, and this beer drinks as a slow, slow sipper.

Overall, the most impressive aspect of this beer is a tossup between the aroma and the taste. They both show an incredible depth to the malt base, with great smokiness to match its massive oaky rum quality. This is actually the first rum-aged beer we’ve had, and it was a surprisingly nice treat. We’re not sure how much of that is how well the rum flavoring blended with the barrel, the smoke, the sweetness, and the beer’s heavy maltiness, or how much we inherently enjoyed that specific flavoring, but it worked. The diacetyls load helped to keep things creamy, slick, and sweetly pleasant, with the latter helped along by all that residual sugar. Further to our intrigue was how bitter it became as it warmed to temperature. This was no doubt in part due to the booze, but the transformation of the malts from a syrupy cloy into a bitter wash was impressive. Aside from the rum aspect of it, this was also our first taste of what Clown Shoes can do with wood, and again, we were quite happy with the outcome. This is a great beer to try, and truly not as overpowering or odd as it may seem from its description.

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Photo of THFCBeerBQ
4.86/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Large bottle purchased at a local craft bottle store. No freshness date on bottle.

Did not have a snifter so I used a goblet.

A – Pitch-black liquid with a ¼ light khaki colored head. The foam dissipates to a light film pretty quickly

S – smoky rum aroma, chocolate and light coffee smell. Raisins and other dried dark fruit smells. There is a slight musty smell as well...most likely a by-product of the dark fruits and the smoky rum flavors blending together. This brew has a WONDERFUL, unique aroma.

T – Rum flavor is predominate on the palate but not in a cutting overly-bearing alcohol sense. The smooth mouthfeel helps keep it soft and creamy. Light chocolate flavor with a sweet malty backbone. The swallow releases the smoky flavor that is balanced perfectly. Not too overbearing but prevalent enough to draw and keep your attention. After taste is a combination of sweet malt, dark fruit and a slight hint of brown sugar. For 11% ABV there is little to no alcohol taste.

M – Medium-to-heavy bodied. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel with mild carbonation

O – This is a very unique and complex beer. I could sip this over and over and pick out different flavors each time. It’s got a great taste, a great mouthfeel and is very drinkable.


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Photo of braugon
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of tbryan5
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of sabitu
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of DWolf
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of tvenne
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of JakerLou
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of mctizzz
4.9/5  rDev +17.2%

Photo of Chris_Panos
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of thaghost
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Mattco
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of IrishGermanAmerican
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of pat61
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Fruit with a hint of rum on the nose with coffee and chocolate. Brilliant dark brown under a 1” finely bubbled light tan head, persistent and lacy. A fruity palate with dark dried fruit, prune, with an underlying sweetness and chocolate and coffee in the background. The sweetness lingers approaching cloying leaving a little stickiness on the lips. Not enough bitterness to balance. Big and chewy with average carbonation.

 425 characters

Photo of Dave11899
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of GOBLIN
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of rwilde
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of kwkdmk
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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Hammer Of The Holy from Clown Shoes
Beer rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 363 ratings