Clown Shoes

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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #194
Ranked #4,282
4.22 | pDev: 8.53%
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 54 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of lordofthewiens
lordofthewiens from New Mexico

4.21/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer is jet black with a one finger tan head. The head reduces quickly.
Aroma of coffee, chocolate, and booze.
Taste of espresso, dark chocolate, and bourbon.
Big beer, more bourbon than I like.

Jul 28, 2020
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From the tall boy can in a snifter. This monster brew pours
a dark coal black with a very nice head of tan foam that settles
to a thick ring, thin dusty layer, and sports some very nice lacing.
Nose of subtleties for such a big brew. Light smoke, char, oak,
prominent coffee, and slight bourbon. Flavors smack the right off
the face with dark espresso, char, smoke, oak, mild bourbon, brulee,
and hefty amounts of dark cocoa. Nice mouth feel; full body, coating,
light carbonation, warming, and finishing with a moderately bitter malt

Of note, warmth shows notes of licorice and herbal hop notes.

As always, more excellence from the good Clown Folk!

Dig them kicks!


Apr 26, 2020
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jlindros from Massachusetts

3.98/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Can date kinda smudged
Pours a large foamy 1 finger dark head with great retention, nice soapy lacing, and decent legs, pitch black thick beer

Nose brings plenty of espresso and roasted coffee, dark chocolate cocoa and a little char, a bit of dark fruits but not a lot, loads of baking spices like cinnamon and licorice, fudgey cocoa, some vanilla barrel, a touch of bourbon but not a lot, fair nougat characters as well

Taste brings plenty more rich cocoa, dark chocolate, a bit fudgey, fair roasted malts with rich espresso, roasted coffee but not bitter coffee, into more baking spices, cinnamon and licorice as well, like cinnamon bark even, some bitterness frmo the roast and mild spicy hops, a touch of dark fruits with raisin like, mild vanilla oak and barrel flavors but very little bourbon almost none, a little cookie dough, a bit of spicy alcohol as well, spicy bitter hops really increase, and alcohol late, sticky finish with more alcohol and spicy bitter hops and bitter roast

Mouth is fuller bod, but smooth creamy like, med foamy carb, fair warming tingly alcohol

Overall not bad, base RIS is good with fruits and lots of fun spices, some roast and espresso but not a ton, but lack of bourbon barrel makes this kinda meh

Apr 26, 2020
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WhiskeyMax from Iowa

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split 70/30 with my partner. She wanted whiskey, so I gave her some of my beer. Poured into tulips resulted in a two inch tan head and a red tinged black color. Smelling a little coffee, dried stone fruit, vanilla and a bit of spent grain. Taste is heavier on the coffee, but not overwhelming. Quite to my liking. The fruit and vanilla are in there too. I get a bit of bourbon barrel, but not so much to make it boozy. Sweet, not syrupy with a sweet-bitter finish that lasts a good time on the palate. Smooth and warming. Overall I like it. A little less punch than most bourbon barrel stouts, but in a good way. I’d drink it again.

Apr 11, 2020
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teromous from Virginia

3.04/5  rDev -28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From the bottom of the can: "031 01/27/" (illegible) "13:52"
From the side of the can: "12% ALC/VOL"

Appearance: Black bodied with a medium sized, dense, khaki head. Great retention and some strings of lacing.

Aroma: It smells like alcohol, bourbon, and carbon. It is very boozy smelling.

Taste: Tons of alcohol and bourbon up front. There is a fruity character with a bit of plum, raisin, and cherry on the tip of the tongue. The middle of the palate carries a lot bourbon character both in alcohol and wood. There is a charred flavor that starts towards the middle of the mouth and carries out to the end. The beer finishes with a woody flavor with a bit of coffee, carbon, and more alcohol. The aftertaste highlights more boozy flavor and a bit of char. The flavors are all here but they are unrefined and raw.

Mouthfeel: The beer is full bodied but the alcohol presence seems to thin it a bit and is acceptable. There is a heat which hampers drinkability. Roasted bitterness is medium-high.

Overall: Some of the portrayed elements can be expected from a higher alcohol beer, but much of this beer is shotgunned. The can calls this a "Russian Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels with Espresso." The bourbon character is present and the barrel character is also present. The espresso is largely lost under the heavy, boozy, alcohol character of the beer.There is a clear quality to the beer given its delivery of a high alcohol malt beverage without the usual flaws, but the flavors just don't feel cohesive. Perhaps the beer could use with some aging. I could drink it again some time in the future, preferably with some age on it. It is a decently made beer so I wouldn't recommend against it, but the beer just lacks a certain quality.

Mar 28, 2020
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maximum12 from Minnesota

3.88/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quarantine diary day seven: rearranged the cellar today updated my spreadsheet. I’m old, so now my back aches. Tall 19.2 oz. can split with my wife as our introduction to Saturday evening.

The big stout is big black, with a big head even with a gentle pour. The nose is espresso on mute with a spoonful of sugar, marshmallow, & the sawdust of raw wood. There’s something wrong with my nose.

Hephaestus is smoother, leaner, with less bite & roast than most beers that purport to have coffee (or some relative) slung into the brew kettle. Very creamy & soft. Taste brings that debittered roast (I don’t know what that means either), light vanilla, light chocolate, & tastes like it was smoked over apple wood. No alcohol apparent; this is a DUI in a can. As a session stout, this is dangerous on the level of Jason Bourne trying to kick my ass dangerous.

This almost breaks into the upper tier: there’s something compelling about the unique beans/espresso/ doinkness Clown Shoes has dunked in here. The thing that’s holding it back? No bourbon. At all. Still a very good brew.

Mar 22, 2020
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AdmiralOzone from Minnesota

4.11/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black with a thick mocha head that lingers and eventually gives way to nice lacing. Aroma is smoky dark roasted malt. Flavor is those same smoky roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and a hint of bourbon. Feel is smooth and creamy, lightly carbonated. Overall a very nice beer that hides it's 14% dangerously well.

Mar 08, 2020
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puboflyons from New Hampshire

3.62/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the odd tall can dated 01/27/20. Sampled on March 7, 2020.

The appearance is dark brown to about black with quick lasting head. Looks like an Impy Stout.

Aroma of coffee but more dark roasted malts. Seems like there is something floral too.

Medium or better body.

The taste is sweet, coffee-like, and fairly smooth. Not an outstanding Imperial Stout but a decent t one.

Mar 07, 2020
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darktronica from Indiana

4.15/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I've really loved Clown Shoes' other coffee stouts, so I was excited to see this on the bottle list at Hops Meet Barley in Houston. I'm not sure this one, from the 2017 batch, is quite as good. Coffee notes are more subdued, and not the same profile as others like Breakfast Exorcism. Dark roasted, down and dirty coffee flavors. Let it warm up a little to bring out more vanilla and nougat from the base.

Oct 25, 2017
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HipCzech from Texas

4.3/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Hay Merchant (Houston, TX), served in a 10 oz snifter. Inky black with a short, dense head of brown foam and streaky lace. Rich nose of espresso, caramel and roasted grains. Immediate barrel flavors: charred oak and sweet bourbon. Roasted malt, dark chocolate and salted caramel fold in with underlying espresso in the finish. Medium body, creamy smooth feel and moderate carbonation. Big but balanced, coffee and BBA work well together.

Aug 05, 2017
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Blackop555 from Michigan

4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black. Short, thick brown head lasts a little.

Smells espresso, roasted malt, bourbon and hint of dark chocolate.

Tastes roasted malts, espresso and bourbon. Followed by light char and dark chocolate. Finish is dry with a coffee and char linger. Full body and creamy lower medium carbonation.

Jun 22, 2017
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mig100 from Texas

4.1/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours black as night and frothy. Aroma is strangely doughy, but not off putting, just atypical. Taste is huge chocolate and roasted malt with a lot of coffee bitterness, which follows through to the mouthfeel, along with some heavy alcohol heat. A pretty great and satisfying barrel aged imperial stout even though it has its flaws, namely the strong alcohol presence and heavy carbonation.

Mar 26, 2017
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SargeMcCluck from Texas

4.35/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep black with a thin, lacy head.

Doesn’t smell or taste like generic ‘coffee’ essence so much as what I imagine is a a very distinct kind of bean - a sweet, woody aroma to this, almost marzipan-like. No fruit to speak of, but whispers of bourbon, burnt sugars, and a smoky, sinus-clinging alcohol burn.

The mouthfeel is similarly distinct - velvety, oily, and just shy of thick. There's a tight fizz of active carbonation in each sip, only made obvious when the beer is swilled. All in all, it's nice to see a brewer capable of playing around with those go-to stout flavours.

Oct 31, 2016
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ThickNStout from Georgia

4.5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

22oz bottle from ClownShoesDreams (you rock!). Bottled 4/11/16. Served in a Clown Shoes snifter.

Pours black as midnight with a dense finger and a half of pale mocha head. The thick froth slowly settles to a modest veneer and full crown that imparts a few islands of lace.

Smells of sweetened espresso, bourbon, heavily kilned malt and cooked caramel. It's dark and roasty with a nicely balancing sweet note of bourbon.

Taste kicks off with a nice bourbon barrel char and continues on to espresso, dark chocolate, smoke, roasted barley, burnt caramel and a hefty reminder that we are well into double-digit abv territory. This leans towards the dark and roasty flavors but with enough oak and bourbon to balance it out a bit.

Semi creamy, medium full body with slight carbonation. Finishes with notes of espresso, charred bourbon barrel, dark cocoa and burnt caramel.

Clown Shoes have proven to me time and time again that they make outstanding stouts. While the body, like their others, is perhaps a tad light for my preferences, Hephaestus delivers the look, smell and flavor of what I look for in a barrel aged coffee stout. I'm really appreciative to Gregg for letting me try it and I would love to see this released again with wider distribution.

Oct 20, 2016
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Rcaros from Texas

4.48/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: poured out bottle black.. no light through the glass.. motor oil black. 1cm of a light beige head that dissapated quickly

Aroma: coffee,sweet malts, slight pepper skin, roasty malts, burnt sugar

Taste: bitter chocolate, raisins? Bourbon notes not overpowering,lingering oak.and sweetness.

Feel: medium plus

Overall : bortled 4-11-6.. reviewed 7-14-16
Very well made beer.. balance is awesome. .. better than kbs
Should have reviewed it fresh to get optimal coffee notes

Jul 25, 2016
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DoctorZombies from Florida

4.55/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Black pour with clarity under a creamy dark tan head; cap retreated quickly; spotty lace at best. Toffee and roast coffee nose. Semi sweet toffee, roasted coffee, bourbon and oak flavors; boozy finish with a whisper of smoke from the roast. Dry, medium mouthfeel; moderate plus carbonation; warming from the alcohol. Overall, not a pretty pour but an excellent tasting one- roast coffee/malt balance nicely with semi sweet toffee notes; and I can taste the alcohol, which I like!

May 12, 2016
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Mateo2699 from Texas

4.34/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is an oily pitch black, minimal head with khaki colored lacing.
Coffee foward head with a subtle bourbon-esque woodiness.
Taste is espresso foward, nice subtle bourbon and wood that's nothing over powering. No robust malt presence,
Slick and oily mouthfeel.

May 07, 2016
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thatche2 from Georgia

4.6/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured on cask into a snifter glass. Appearance is pitch black with one finger thick head and decent retention. The bourbon is dominant on the nose, but coffee/espresso, vanilla, roasted malt and chocolate are also present. Taste is a nice balance between the bourbon and coffee with a delicate flavor profile. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy but light enough to be fairly drinkable. Carbonation is low to moderate but works well throughout.

Overall, this is an excellent BA coffee stout with great balance brewed by three great partners: Hay Merchant, Blacksmith and Clown Shoes. The bourbon strength is just right, and doesn't overpower the other flavors. The espresso seems to bring the base beer from Clown Shoes together in near perfect harmony. As a coffee nerd, I could use a little more espresso, but it works well overall. Maybe the next version will be a double espresso (I can dream).

Apr 26, 2016
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cultclassic89 from Texas

3.92/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Good, The Bad, The Unidragon with coffee from Blacksmith's.

L: Fine, not super thick, no carb to speak of, though it was on cask.

S: Milky, chocolate, roast but I'm missing the coffee.

T: Very similar. Coffee is faint, especially compared to the Brash beer before this. Some alcohol flavor as well.

F: Fine, low carb as expected, slick and oily.

O: Fine stout but I'm missing the coffee that's advertised. Too much alcohol on the taste.

Mar 26, 2016
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ilikebeer03 from Texas

4.25/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours jet black with a thick, rocky cinnamon head. Good retention
Nose is vanilla, sweet fudge, a touch of plum
Taste is sweet dark chocolate, vanilla, a touch of smoke, fresh roasted espresso. A light warming alcohol. Bourbon character is subtle.

Thick creamy body. Lingering dark chocolate covered espresso beans

Feb 21, 2016
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Can_has_beer from Texas

4.33/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Unaged cask at Hay Merchant. This is a collaboration between Hay Merchant, Blacksmith coffee and Clown Shoes.

This looks exactly like a cask RIS, no head, deep dark black in color. The aroma is coffee forward and where it gets really interesting is the taste. The taste isn't coffee heavy, but espresso heavy. Coffee and espresso lovers who can tell the difference will definitely notice this. And that's a great thing, since the 1000 espresso shots Blacksmith used were hand drawn.

I think this successfully captures the philosophy behind what all three party's were trying to do with the espresso and the stout. This will be enjoyable.

Dec 21, 2015
Hephaestus from Clown Shoes
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 54 ratings