Crunkle Sam
Clown Shoes

Crunkle SamCrunkle Sam
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Barleywine - American
3.93 | pDev: 9.67%
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Crunkle SamCrunkle Sam
Reviews: 82 | Ratings: 478 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Joe_Tool
Joe_Tool from New Jersey

4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this in the cab for 6 years. Wasn't expecting much. Poured in a mug, see expectations above. Murky as typical. Aroma of America's influence on this ambiguous ale. A touch sweet but a small price to pay for an otherwise delicious aromatic brew. Maybe another few years would have served this brew better than my relative impatience. Thoroughly enjoyed and regarded. Clown shoes, who knew?

Aug 18, 2019
Photo of darktronica
darktronica from Indiana

4.09/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 release enjoyed on draft. Still just as aggressive and American a barleywine as it was when fresh. Hot and sharp, with massive pine resin and bitter citrus.

Oct 14, 2018
Photo of bark
bark from Sweden

3.19/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

1½ year old bottle.
The colour is dark gold; the liquid clear. The finger thick head is compact and beige, it sinks slowly to a thin lid leaving no lacing on the glass.

The smell is semi-sweet with some toffee and sweet almonds. Earthy hints a touch of brandy, and warming alcohol.

The taste is semi-sweet with a fine balance between semi-sweet malts and smooth citric marmalade hops. Toffee, brandy and banana peels. Medium body. Growing hot alcohol in the aftertaste as well as shortbread, oak barrels and bitter herbs. The finish is rather bitter with alcohol, vanilla and cookies.

The carbonation is medium strong, the few mid-sized bubbles long-lived. The liquid is somewhat sticky.

Not as smooth and elegant as I want barley wine to be.

Jan 04, 2018
Photo of Lone_Freighter
Lone_Freighter from Vermont

3.74/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle to snifter, the appearance was a murky dark mahogany color with a fingers worth of white foamy head that fell off at a moderate pace. Slim concave lace. The aroma had some sweet dried dark fruits, light leather, subtle earthiness, vanilla, driftwood, dried leaves and light smoke. The flavor took all of the prior mentioned aromas to boot and seemed to have the normal level of tobacco that I usually get in this style. Aftertaste was brisk and sweet. Finish followed suite. The palate was medium bodied with a fair sipping quality about it. Carbonation felt fine. ABV felt just a touch under than what was projected, but I wasnt bothered by that. Overall, pretty nice barleywine seemed to lean towards the English side more than the American, in my opinion.

Jun 22, 2017
Photo of davidperez
davidperez from Mexico

4.3/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled in 2014.

Served in a snifter, it pours a beautiful reddish orange of a dark hue, like a dark amber, solid and murky. It develops a one-finger head, ecru, sudsy, with low retention. Some lacing visible in the glass.
Gentle swirling reveals small streams of bubbles eager to resurface.

The bouquet is quite interesting, assertive and complex.
Fruity as in apricot, peach, overripe apple, overripe brown pear. Definitely a malt backbone, slightly toasted. Lots of caramel, brown sugar, and the alcohol is barely present in the form of a sweet liquor. Slight butterscotch.
There are also a lot of hops in this beer. Swirling the glass unveils a very clear earthy and spicy hoppiness. Notes of pine resin and citric fruits as tangerine and orange.

Now this is an strong beer.
Upfront a high carbonation, pleasant.
The flavor is one balanced intensity, very sweet, and bitter at the same time. A booze is definitely felt, mildly hot, which reminds of a spirit in flavor.
The notes follows the nose. Caramel, toasted malts, pine resin, overripe apple and pear, citrusy sweetness.
The aftertaste is long and bittersweet; yet, the sensation in your mouth after this beer is that of dryness. The hop bitterness accumulates after several sips and coats your palate, making you crave for more flavor.
Full body, very smooth, nice carbonation.

I guess two years worked out pretty good. I really liked this beer, and it sort of reminded me of the Arrogant Bastard ales.

Jun 08, 2016
Photo of DIM
DIM from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 5/14

Smells of rich toffee backed by dank pine resin and hints of citrus rind. Mellow and enticing, nearly two years on the shelf was time well spent.

Tastes as the smell suggests it would, with strong toffee dominating. A pine-y tingle helps cut the sweet, although the finish is a bit too sugary.

Overall this reminds me of a sweeter version of Bigfoot. High praise, sorry to see this is retired.

Mar 21, 2016
Photo of Flounder57
Flounder57 from Massachusetts

4.04/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle was poured into a snifter.

Appearance: A one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a hazy amber brown color with slight clarity and vision of nothing coming up through the glass. Spotty lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Herbal, citrus, grassy, caramel, toasted, and warm boozy alcohol.

Taste: Same as above. Light bitterness and warm boozy alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Smmoth, nice warm alcohol, light tingly bitterness, medium bodied, medium carbonation, and light chewy notes.

Overall: Haven't had this one in a bit and hope yo see more of it in the future. Nice, nice barleywine.

Mar 11, 2016
Photo of risendragon
risendragon from New Hampshire

4.51/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought at E & A Mart in Hudson. They don't brew this stuff anymore? Shame!

L- Brown, some amber hues, thin white head that dissipates quickly. Great lacing. (4)

S- Sweet, malty, grape notes, cherry, some roasted hints and vanilla too. (4.25)

T- First time drinking a barleywine, so I had to get used to the booze level before getting a good read on the taste. Malty, holy Lord, malty! The malts fade into a dark fruit and vanilla hailstorm with hints of lightly roasted malts as well. The hops are present, but definitely complement the beer instead of overpowering it. The hops bite on the back end. Quite damn near perfect! (4.75)

F- Smooth, easy going down despite the 11% ABV. (4.5)

O- My first foray into barleywine is a successful one! I can close my eyes and see RPG characters knocking off pints of this after a hard day of fighting dragons and demons. I am impressed. (4.5)

Aug 31, 2015
Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
BeerAndGasMasks from Virginia

3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours amber with a moderate off-white head. As this beer was aged a year, the flavor was more mellow than it would have been otherwise. Feels nice rolling across the tongue and the subdued alcohol makes it easy to drink--wow!

Jul 26, 2015
Photo of Sundrifter
Sundrifter from Arizona

4.21/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I recently celebrated Independence Day with some Clown Shoes Crunkle Sam and it definitely did not disappoint. The beer poured a deep reddish brown color which looked quite interesting and had some very strong notes of citrus, pine and caramel with some hop bitterness to balance it all off. At 11% it's a little on the boozy side but it tastes amazing and would love to try another. Clown Shoes does it again with another excellent brew.

Jul 11, 2015
Photo of orcrist_cleaver
orcrist_cleaver from New York

4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A year of age and it still has the citrus pine hop pop. Pours a beautiful maple-amber-dark cherry. Bready crust flavor and quite biscuity. Lemon and pine bitterness. More bitter than caramel sweetness. Alcohol flavor seems subdued. About an average mouthfeel for style. Some oils and prickles detected.

Jul 05, 2015
Photo of Jadjunk
Jadjunk from Georgia

3.71/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

"We brewed Crunkle Sam, an American Barletwine Ale dry hopped with Chinook hops, to celebrate America, America, we love you: thank you for allowing Clown Shoes to set off a few fireworks in the craft beer world." Brewed in the style of an American Barleywine Ale, available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a frothy foam head of a maple cream color over a deep amber and mahogany body with high clarity, ample sediment and light, lively carbonation. Retention is good and lacing is light and spotty. 4

(Smell) Biscuit malts, slick caramel syrups and grains and overtones of spicy, piney hops with a moderate bitterness. Very approachable and simple aroma, clean with little alcohol presence nor bold yeast character. 3.5

(Taste) Clean, syrupy caramel grain, toasted bready malt viscosity, possibly some moderate rye malt, finishing with creeping booze undertones and a drying piney hop bitterness. It's a lot of flavor from both the malt body and the hop profile, the alcohol, while detectable comes off a bit more modest than 11%. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately syrupy, lightly viscous, moderately dry. Carbonation is light, generating a moderate frothiness and a lightly crisp finish. Body is medium+ for the style, shy of heavy overall. Balance is moderately earthy and hoppy bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is moderate, and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) Crunkle Sam is a tasty American Barleywine with ample hop and malt flavor and body. A simple but effective yeast profile keeps things clean yet effective, and the Chinook hop is a powerful standalone hop with lots of bittering power and sharp piney flavor. If there's ever been a decorated beer respectable of consumption on the 4th of July, this would be the one. Happy Independence Day, 'Merica! 3.75

Clown Shoes'
Crunkle Sam American Barleywine Ale

Jul 05, 2015
Photo of chinchill
chinchill from South Carolina

3.72/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 oz shared bottle.
Hazy dark brown body with an excellent head.
Sweet aroma with well hidden alcohol.
The alcohol is more obvious in tasting but blends nicely with the sweet malts.

Jun 09, 2015
Photo of ilikebeer03
ilikebeer03 from Texas

4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottled 5/15/13. drank 5/22/15

pours a nice ruby red color with a tan head. good lacing and retention.
nose is bready, sweet caramel malts, slight alcohol
taste is sweet caramel malts, definite bitterness mixed well with the sweet. plum, bready. warming alcohol, but hidden well.
nice creamy body
a good beer. would like to try a fresh one for comparison.

May 22, 2015
Photo of Mike_Aguirre
Mike_Aguirre from Mexico

4.75/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Great beer, I loved it! Very expensive in Mexico but it´s worth it. Pours deep amber, almost copper with a mild white foam head. Aroma and taste are very complex and hoppy, great barleywine.

Mar 27, 2015
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: brilliant chestnut to garnet mahagony with a finely bubbled, lacy off white foam cap. Smell: Citrusy hoppy nose. Taste: rich, malty, some caramel, bread, cardamom to cola finishing with a big bitter hop finish balanced by the malt and alcohol. Mouthfeel: Very creamy, big and chewy, slight warming. Overall: Reminds me of a mixed drink.

Mar 23, 2015
Photo of michiganmatt
michiganmatt from California

3.4/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - 4.25/5
Pours a medium-deep orange-red, quite clear, with about a finger of tan head. A sparse amount of carbonation can be seen rising up the beer.

Smell - 3.5/5
Floral hops, a chocolatey-roastines, wine-like alcohol.

Taste - 3.25/5
Strong hops taste, strong alcohol taste. Slightly sweet. A little bit of roasty caramelized-sugar malts. Not my favorite flavor by far, but drinkable.

Mouthfeel - 3.5/5
Medium bodied, light carbonation. In between creamy and crisp.

Overall - 3.25/5
This was an okay beer. Will definitely not get again.

Mar 23, 2015
Photo of wiscokid920
wiscokid920 from Wisconsin

4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Caramel and toffee sweetness which compliments the juicy citrus flavors and herbal tea hop bitterness. The alcohol plays the warming card, but is masked well. A solid, sweet, citrusy barleywine.

Mar 06, 2015
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss from Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a medium copper color with a silky smooth, creamy topping. The aroma has a bit of fruit, caramel, and toffee. The flavor has a lot more going on, with brown sugar, vanilla, citrus, and a hint of dark fruit. There is a slight earthy, woodsy hop flavor going along with the large malt and yeast notes. Really nice flavor for a barleywine and certainly a solid part of the clown shoes lineup. I would love to see how this would age after a few years, though it wasn't too hot with alcohol even fresh.

Jan 28, 2015
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.07/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clown Shoes "Crunkle Sam"
22 oz. brown glass bottle, "BOTTLED ON 06/12/13"
$8.99 @ Total Wine & More #901, Tampa, FL

Notes: Sampled at cellar temperature. Beautiful looking glass of beer: clear deep copper body with orange highlights beneath a massive head of frothy yellowish tan that slowly drops to a fairly thick, sudsy covering. Wide splashes and craggy, broken walls of lacing are left behind on the glass. Distinctly caramelish malt as expected in the nose with a bit of fruit (apricot, tangerine, nondescript citrus) as well, and some background raspy hops (or is that spiciness from the alcohol? Or a combination with the citrus edge?). As an "American" barley wine I would expect more hop aroma, but the very moderate amount that's there is OK. Medium-full in body... or should that be full-medium? Decidedly dextrinous and creamy with a very fine-bubbled moderate carbonation - thank goodness as too many barley wines are over-carbed these days, 'thinning' the malt and amping up the perceived bitterness with carbonic acid... this softer carbonation works really well to accentuate the malt. And malt is what it's about here, although there are more hops in the flavor, and some clear alcohol (which seems to be the only fault, with some higher alcohols). Rich, with a combination of golden and darker caramel notes that make me think of the color red, not that red is a flavor, but that's how I perceive it - I guess meaning that it's a midway point between the golden and the dark (?). The malt is the main component, but it's malt that's threaded through with hop flavor: dank, slightly resinous, and citrusy (clementine, lemon zest)- almost berry-like in a way (perhaps Simcoe?). But again, as an "American" barley wine it still seems a little light. The balance, however, is quite good; and overall it shines. Given the price of $8.99/22 oz. bottle (and I know you can find it cheaper) it's hard to argue against.

Jan 16, 2015
Photo of SHODriver
SHODriver from North Carolina

3.87/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: poured into a snifter to a deep amber with a finger and half of dense off white head that retains well and leaves some lacing
S: smells of caramel malt and piney and juicy citrus hops
T: taste is sweet caramel with some orange marmalade and citrusy hops. a little tropical fruit as well but the sweetness from the malt keeps things in check. swallow is toasted malt, slight alcohol, more caramel and piney citrusy hops
M: heavier side of medium on the palate with slightly prickly carbonation and a oily finish that slowly dries out
O: Pretty solid for a young barleywine. I snagged a second bottle so we'll see how this does after a year. It is nowhere near as abrasive as fresh Old Guardian so this is pleasant to drink fresh. Alcohol could be masked better but other than that this is a pretty good beer.

Dec 28, 2014
Photo of Pencible
Pencible from Virginia

3.91/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: This poured an opaque mahogany with moderate tan head.
S: It smelled like sweet raisin and fig and molasses, with some copper and biscuit.
T: It tasted like candied oranges and caramel, with some copper and raisin. It had a clean but hot bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was thick with some carbonation. Nice big body.
D: This was more English than American, but still had a really nice scent and taste. The body was solid, but the finish was a little harsh, so it was better to sip. Would likely age well. Fresh is good, not great.

Dec 27, 2014
Photo of TreyIsWilson
TreyIsWilson from Michigan

3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 6/13/13

A - Pours a dark copper with a one-finger off-white head. The head leaves some light soapy lacing.

S - Toffee, caramel malts, dark fruits, and piney hops.

T - The taste mirrors the aroma. Sweet caramel, toffee, and dark fruits upfront followed by a good amount of piney hops. The finish is mellow with a light alcohol burn.

M - Full bodied with medium carbonation. Very smooth with a creamy mouthfeel.

O - This is a nice Barleywine. The 18 months has mellowed the alcohol somewhat, but it still present. While not world class still very nice.

Dec 13, 2014
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek from West Virginia

4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

Bottled on 6/4/14 found a 2nd to last bottle at South Hills Giant Eagle Market District...pours into a chalice with a cloudy deep muddled ruby amber body. Creamy textured tan head intricate lacing.

Dry hopped with Chinooks those are basically muted after 6 months of age in the bottle, the aroma comes of with deep pine earthy dankness, big under current of caramelized malts and bread...dark fruit a bit of sherry or cognac.

Flavor way too smooth I'm getting the last bottle to age even longer, dark chocolate in the middle over ripened fruits some apricot and raisin very juicy notes. Big earthy pine accented hops with a big creamy malt finish caramelized sugars a hint of caramel and bourbon esque finish even though this has never touched a barrel.

Mouthfeel is full bodied chewy beer this is Crunkle Sam and I'm really enjoying the beer a star of the base beers I've had from Clown Shoes...really well done to style American Barleywine I'm burping up hops and the booze is way too well hidden one could not tell this is 11% abv.

Overall, world class barleywine this would win most blind tastings out there, can't wait to grab another bottle to store away in the cellar.

Dec 05, 2014
Photo of zac16125
zac16125 from South Carolina

4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a snifter
bottled on: 6/04/14

A: Pours a hazy, really dark copper thats nearly brown, with 1 fingers width of tan head which has good retention but leaves only very little lacing. 3.75

S: Candied sugar, toffee/caramel, some sweet dark fruit notes, a bit of booze, some floral and herbaceous hops. Really nice nose. 4.25

T: Boozy up front, with caramel and toffee on the finish. Some bitterness, floral hops, some soapy hop characters. 4

M/D: Full bodied, carbonation appropriate, ABV is noticeable but its not hot. Drinkability is good. 4

O: Not bad, I actually kinda like the booziness, but I could see how others would be turned off. I do think this has the potential to develop nicely with some time in the cellar. 4

Oct 30, 2014
Crunkle Sam from Clown Shoes
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 478 ratings