Crunkle Sam | Clown Shoes

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Crunkle SamCrunkle Sam

Brewed by:
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jason on 05-09-2013

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Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 468
Photo of rdilauro
3.25/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Ok, I admit, Clown Shoes beers have not been one of my favorites. I keep on trying them, my co-workers love them and I respect their beer knowledge and tastes.
I have liked most of the Clown shoe brews I have tasted, but the one thing that keeps me in the drak is the aftertaste. I cant put my finger on it, but its just something I do not like.

Crunkle Sam was an good overall Barley Wine. It had all the major ingredients into which a good beer should be. It had a nice nose, the mouthful was big, in fact very big, there was a nice balance between malt and alcohol,

But still in the end there was something I just did not like Its not been with just one clown shoes but most of those I have tasted

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.27/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

I picked up a bottle of this at the local Total Wine. I try to avoid 22oz bottles but this one was reasonably priced at $7.99, I have had some decent Clown Shoes beers, so I thought "Why not?" This was bottled on 6/13/13. Hopefully the last six months have done this one good.

Pours clear and a rusty cherry color. As far as appearance goes, this one is damned near perfect for the style. Fluffy, frothy, creamy, two finger sized light caramel colored head forms on top. The lacing is amazing and the retention is awesome as well.

Aroma is alcoholic and fruity. Alcohol hits the nose first, followed by some tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, and peach. Huge dose of caramel malt. This one seems like a huge malt bomb. I am not generally a big fan of this style for that reason; lets see how she tastes.

Oh boy. Sweet, syrupy, fruity, alcoholic. Oddly enough there is a strong hop bitterness in the finish that really lingers. Seems way out of balance and not very cohesive. Plenty of caramel with some toffee. Not really a fan.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy and probably pretty good for the style. This one is definitely one of those beers that takes over an hour to drink due to the sweetness and alcohol. I can already feel the hangover from this one. Not a fan. This one definitely needs more time; very raw tasting.

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Photo of morimech
3.31/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky, dark amber with just over one finger of head that had good retention. The head eventually settles to a thick cap with a lot of lacing being left down the glass.

Smell is of old hops, toffee, caramel, bread, and alcohol. No date on the bottle but it smells like the best part of the beer has already faded away.

Some citrus hops are tasted however. All the bitterness is still there and gives some balance to the huge malt bill. Probably would be a real good barleywine extremely fresh or well aged. I got it in the transitional phase and it is not as good as it should be. A lot of booze in the flavor covers up a lot of the subtle malt notes. Definitely hot in the finish.

Big and robust body. Expertly carbonated as well. Nice smooth, creamy soft feel.

Maybe Clown Shoes should bottle date their bottles so I would not give their beer mediocre scores. Would be an interesting experiment to see if the alcohol heat mellows out with time.

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Photo of mchegash
3.4/5  rDev -13.7%
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.

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Photo of BB1313
3.44/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 5/8/14. This beer was originally dry-hopped with Citra, but this year it was dry-hopped with Chinook. 22oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a dark glowing brown, lots of haze with a small tan head that fades and leaves nice retention and solid lacing. It has that classic barleywine aroma. The hops seem to take a backseat in the nose, but are slightly noticeable. Some fresh dough. Tons of toffee and butterscotch. Some chocolate. Lots of caramel malts. Some orange peel in the mix. The flavors seem to have alot going on. After a few sips, it's clear that this is a sipper and heavy beer. What else would you expect for the style though? Flavors are full of more of the usual suspects like caramel and toffee. Lots of chocolate notes. Some hints of citrus. Orange and lemon is definitely in the mix. Possibly some grapefruit along with some fresh berries. Fresh pine needles are there. This isn't boozy, but there's a noticeable warmth. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with active carbonation. Ultimately smooth. Robust brew, which once again makes for a great sipper.

This is a straight forward and very solid example of the style. Well crafted. It becomes redundant at times. I almost want to say it eventutally becomes a chore to drink, but that's simply not the case. Good stuff, but nothing mind blowing.

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Photo of jrstamp
3.44/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Knuckleheads
Pours a reddish brown with a solid off white head. Comes off a little hot and has a strong American bitterness that is not that pleasant at the moment. I'm not sure why I can stop myself from ordering barley wines on tap, but more often than not I get disappointed compared with a bottle that has a little time on its side. Overall it will probably mellow out to be better than what I gave it but right now the alcohol heat and that sharp bitterness keep me negative on it for now.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: a deep ruby red color. two to three fingers of a tannish head. fairly hazy. leaves a slight ring around the edges

Smell: very light citrusy hops. toasty malts. caramel malts. lots of sweetness.

Taste: orange peel hops. toasty malts. maybe some barley. sweet caramel malts. a strong hop bit. there are a lot of good flavors but they are fairly weak and sometimes kind of bland

Mouthfeel: pretty full. pretty drinkable for 11%. warming alcohol. a touch sticky

Overall: this barleywine has some good things going for it. but overall it comes off as a fairly weak flavored brew. falling in as a middle of the road barleywine

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Photo of bum732
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

S: Citrus with some burnt toffee, slightly grainy.

L: Crystal clear, ruby red, little white head.

T: Rich, caramel with some toffee and hints of citrus. Very malty. Medium-high citrus bitterness with a smooth, caramel maltiness,. Alcohol dries the finish, a touch spicy. Some citrus hoppiness also in the finish.

M: Medium full body, medium carbonation.

Not bad, citra hops come through, but still dominated by the malt flavors.

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Photo of bmwats
3.52/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 650 ml bottle into a snifter.

A: Medium brown. Pours a half finger, bubbly, brown-white head. Dissipates quickly, leaving a smattering of bubbly carbonation on the surface. No real lacing.

S: Caramel and butterscotch is prominent. Raisin.

T: Bitter pecan shell, bittersweet raisin, pungent tea leaf, and a little licorice.

M: Syrupy, thick, and earthy. Bittersweet finish lingers on the palate. A bit dry in the finish. High alcohol is apparent.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is really nice. Slight head and no real lacing. But nose prominently features raisin and butterscotch. Bitter and a little sweetness to balance, pungent components as well. Boozy, thick, with a dry finish. Overall, this is a good quaff.

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Photo of Cvogel22
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Dig the barleywines so this came as a natural like. Clown shoes puts out good beers.

Has a sweet honey taste with a crisp bite. leaves a filmy feel in the mouth. the alcohol content is not in the taste so it kinda knocks you on your ass.

The local shell has stepped its game up and carries much of the good stuff.. but at high prices for sure. walked out of there with 2 clown shoes bombers and a couple 6 packs and spent about $50

either way.. you get what you pay for.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a murky brown color. Yikes, this is ugly from the get go. The head is less than a finger high, and white in shade. Retention isn't very good, though a bit of lacing is left behind. A second pour yields a bigger, longer-lasting head, giving it some aesthetic redemption.

Smell: On one hand, it smells well hopped - lots of tobacco, weed, and pine come through. On the other hand, the malts are massively rich and sweet, closer to an English-style barleywine. From the malts, I get vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and chocolate. A small spike of alcohol enters the nose; it's expected for 11%. The aroma is damn good, but it might end up tasting too big for its own good.

Taste: It starts off, well, big. Rather than distinctly going from hop flavor to malt and vice versa, the initial taste melds the hops/malts instead. While there's a distinctive flavor of things like brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla, it also has a nice piny bite to it throughout. The malt sweetness fades away near the back end, being replaced by a boozy touch. There is a some depth to be found, though it's somewhat harsh at times. Still, it's a promising aging candidate.

Mouthfeel: Big, sweet, and rich; but the back end is somewhat dry from the alcohol. Still, it's generally a soft and creamy feel. Syrupy, too - eh, it's 11%, I'll deal. Carbonation stays behind the full body, as it should.

Overall: Solid barleywine, but also too young. It could definitely use a year on it to mellow it out some - this could become genuinely fantastic aged. Or it could become an oxidized mess, too. Whatever. I'd definitely age one of these to find out.

3.53/5: Good now...will likely get better with age, unlike 'Murica

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Photo of maximum12
3.55/5  rDev -9.9%

Even though I find most of their beers merely "good", which doesn't rate Clown Shoes price tags, I keep buying them. There's something wrong with me. I blame it on my mistress. 22 oz. bottle split with my wife.

Pour is a dark, clear, filtered red. Smells sweet. Two-year-old-sitcom-sweet, the kind that makes your hind-brain hurt. Then there's the corn-fructose-dipped fruit. Recommended by 9 out of 10 dentists. The other one's going broke.

Crunkle Sam lays the lie to the nose. Huge hoppy citrus punch up front is cut by the dark fruitiness that's so strong up the schnazz. Malty sweetness is tamed somewhat by the hops. Alcohol bites, leaves some lingering side effects. I'm slugging this far faster than is warranted.

Another 'merely good' CS brew. A rather routinely good, hopped-to-the-gills barleywine. I'll enjoy it for the few more seconds that it lasts.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this at De Bierkoning in Amsterdam.

From a bomber into a snifter
Barleywine dry hopped with citra

APPEARANCE: Pours a two finger, medium looking, fluffy, off-white head with good retention. Clear burnt orange in color with almost no carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full, creamy cap and sticks to the sides of the glass, continuing to fade to a good wisp. A ring and swirly wisp remain until the end leaving some good lacing down the glass. Class stuff.

SMELL: Caramel, toffee, light honey and honeydew melon initially. Some grassy and piney hops with citrus notes as well. A hint of butterscotch as well. Good stuff.

TASTE: Toffee, caramel, honey and sweet malts up front with some nice spicy and piney hops at the swallow. Bolder finish is sweet with plenty of bitter hops, citrus flavors, spicy and piney hops, as well as honey sweetness lingering on the palate.

PALATE: Slightly thinner body and lighter on the palate. Semi-creamy, a touch prickly perhaps, goes down fine and finishes slightly mouth-coating.

OVERALL: Solid stuff. The feel is a little sub-par here, being a touch thin and prickly perhaps, but the rest was solid and lead to an enjoyable drink. Good sweet malt base with a nice hop profile bringing a lot of character to the beer. Good looking brew too. All in all, this is another solid Clown Shoes beer that's well worth checking out if you get the chance. Cheers.

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Photo of JCarey
3.6/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not writing a full review, just reminding myself to pick up a few bottles of this to keep around.

Gorgeous red, overly bitter for style, reminds me more of a IIPA, and a bit sharp/young in alcohol. Completely drinkable and delicious as is.

I see this aging well.

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Photo of MistahBeah
3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a ruby brown with a thin tan rim of head. Clear for the most part. Very little visible carbonation. No lace

Smells of honey and caramel malts at first. Brown sugar and a hint of spice. Very dank apricot esters. Grapefruit hops

Taste is similar to the nose. Very sweet up first. Honey and thick caramel. Resin and grapefruit come through midpalate and linger. Moderate bitterness. Slight alcohol heat. Some saltiness and musky flavors

Feels sticky. Very coating. Spicy and warming. Not entirely unpleasant but far from perfect

Overall a nice offering from one of my favorite brewers but definitely not my favorite. Admittedly I'm a little let down by this because I love clown shoes and I love barleywines but worth trying if you can find it. I will try this again after some aging but I worry because its already very sweet.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.64/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 ounce bottle - $8.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Glugs out an murky, opaque, dark amber body with a small, thin, beige head now matter how lively the pour. Though the head really never gets going, it also maintains that lil' thin head throughout the whole bottle.

Smell: Toasted biscuits, toasted sugars, and, given some minutes in the glass, you get rising, angrily wafting citrus zest and alcohol set against a scent of brewed black tea.

Taste: Toasty malts, sugars (for a bolt of sweetness), and biscuits, a little extra brown sugar, some small handful of golden raisins, with bright, juicy citrus components of Seville orange and lemon adjoined to the warming alcohol. As the bitterness hitches its wagon, there's a firm tea-like herbal hint like an over-steeped tea bag. As it warms, the alcohol and cumulative bitterness awaken, giving a singe of orange liqueur on the finish. Additional sweetness lands invariably, pre-finish, post-finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Not quite chewy.

Overall: It's not the most deft, diverse, or complex barleywine around. Still, it holds its own, giving one their daily recommended allowance of citrus, sweetness, and alcohol.

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Photo of RickS95
3.65/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

It's gorgeous. Pours a copper brown that's dark enough to keep light out. Looks rich and filling. The head is slow forming and doesn't retain worth a crap. However, give the snifter a few swirls and a new off white band of bubbles, not quite a finger thick is born again. This time it retains well, though lacing could be better.

I enjoy the barleywine malt profile and this is on the gentle side of that. I don't care much for the hop presence as Chinook doesn't do much for me. While both the malt and hop profile are a bit subdued, there's enough of it to make known this is a barleywine. The hops scent is a bit more savory than I like. You get a smokey, tobacco like scent with each whiff.

The beer tastes like it smells. Again, everything is a bit on the subtle side, not something you normally find in a barleywine. Like the scent, the flavor is mostly hop driven and you again think smokey and tobacco. Somewhere deep inside the taste is a dark fruit profile that I can't quite place. Alcohol only slightly registers, and it's deep in the swallow.

As it warms, it becomes more complex. There's a sweetness hiding in the malts of this beer. Even tobacco can have a slightly sweet feel and this has it. It is very bitter and the bitterness starts mid-sip and lasts forever. Only in the throat does the heat build. Just medium-bodied. A slight acidic swallow.

Overall, it's a good beer, particularly as it warms. It never comes across as overly bitter, until you've swallowed and the pucker never leaves your palate. Alcohol is well moderated, providing just a touch of taste and a slight burn.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.69/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

appearance: medium dark, hazy amber. Quite a thick and fluffy off-white head.
smell: The citra hops are front and center with a malty backbone. Smells more Dipa than Barley to me, but yea I know an American is often hop heavy and blurs the line. Nice though simplistic.
taste: More balanced though the hops are still most prominent. The citra tang and malty base are nicely balanced with a bitter finish.
overall: Enjoying this. Not a standout imo but nicely done.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.71/5  rDev -5.8%
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

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Photo of chinchill
3.72/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

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Photo of Rutager
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Appearance. Pours a hazy, deep amber-orange with a finger of lightly orange-tan tinted head.

Smell. Candied orange rinds, caramel, a little grapefruit, and some toasty sweet malts.

Taste. Orange, grapefruit and lemon rinds with some oily bitterness, some sweet caramel and lightly toasted malts. Very big and bold.

Mouthfeel. On the lower side of full bodied, below medium carbonation.

Overall. Nice hoppy bwine.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to wethorseblanket for sharing this one at Wowcoolman's tasting.

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy beige head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with brown sugar and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is a nice example of a citrus hop forward barleywine.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

650ml bomber poured into tulip 12/7/14

A murky brownish amber, some slow moving bubbles floating up to a dense finger of tan foam that sits around for a couple sips leaving some random patches

S heaps of brown sugar, some Swedish berries, badly bruised sour apple, soft caramel, wet herbal tea bag, smells sweet and already aged

T a little citrus rind but for the most part its caramel apple and big brown sugar notes with a little dark bread

M chewy and syrupy, the booze is very well hidden, bubbles slowly cream it up, a little sticky on the lips, caramel apple with brown sugar on the finish

O Solid BW, already mellow drinking I'm sure age wont hinder its cause, no booze anywhere and malty as they come

Not the most complex BW I've had but well worth a try, that being said I doubt I'd buy another to age with its 13$ price tag

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Photo of SHODriver
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a nice fluffy 1 finger head that fades semi slowly, decent lacing, esp for an 11% beer, fairly clear reddish maroon slight rosy colored beer.

Nose brings typical barleywine aromas, sweet candy malts, caramel, toffee, little nutty, candied apple, touch syrupy, with lots of reddish sweet malts, slight toasty, candy, various crystal malts, etc. with a touch of an earthy spicy hop, as well as light booze aroma and hint of esters.

Taste brings more sweet malts, reddish malts again, toasty, chewy like, with candy red malts, into the caramel, lots of toffee with a bit syrupy flavors, nutty even, more candied apple flavor, rock candy syrup, etc. That also brings plenty of booze, warming and tingly even, but mostly clean booze, just a touch of esters and eventually gets a little fusel, and an interesting fruitiness in there too, touch of raisin, little candied apple, touch fig, etc. Also in there is a med to milder bitterness wit light spicy earthy hops but not a lot. Finish is fairly bitter though as the hops finally ramp, more spicy chewy hops with a bit of pine and earth, more candied flavors sweet malts and semi dry finish, bit more tingly anesthesizing booze.

Mouth is med to fuller bod, bit syrupy, plenty of warming tingly booze, decent carb.

overall not bad, not sure how it would age but not bad as a basic barleywine, but doesn't do much to stand out or anything like that.

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Crunkle Sam from Clown Shoes
3.94 out of 5 based on 468 ratings.
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