Crunkle Sam | Clown Shoes

very good
79 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 468
Photo of KYGunner
4/5  rDev +1.5%

2013 aged 14 months
Pours a cloudy dark orange with various shades of brown. Great aroma of fig, malt, creaminess, tea leaf, roasted nut, caramel, toffee and apricot. The flavor follows suit with a ton of maltiness, i.e. tea leaf, caramel, barley and toffee. Some fruit taste of Orange syrup, fig, raisin and apricot. The flavor follows to a light boozy end but it's never overpowering. One of the better offerings from Clown Shoes.

 432 characters

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.

 416 characters

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.

 870 characters

Photo of snowmageddon
4.14/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Bottled 5/20/14 and consumed 8/13/2014. Pours an attractive amber color with a brownish tint in the right light. A dirty brown head fades quickly.
S: Grapefruit, pine from the chinook dry-hopping is a nice complement to the caramel, molasses, brown sugar you'd expect from a big american barleywine.
T: Hops are very apparent, again with the chinook pine/grapefruit shining through. Sweet molasses, caramel flavors and a strong alcohol taste exist as well. I pick up some chocolate notes linger in the finish as well.
M: fairly big body, medium-low carbonation, dry.
O: I recommend trying this if you are on the fence. I'm happy that I caved and picked one up.

 667 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
4.04/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bomber slowly decanted into a tulip glass over the course of an evening. Really quite a looker, a ruby red brown admixture with a well-formed mocha colored head and a rather appealing aroma of well-toasted malts (almost reminds one of burnt popcorn), strong hazelnut, raisins, apples, pears, and some grapefruit, tangerine, and faint pine from the bold hop regime. All the expected elements are there and well-integrated. Some folks have described this as "hot" or "young" in terms of the alcohol flavor and although you can taste the booze, I might have snagged a well-aged example as this ain't too hot at all (but see below). The alcohol flavor peeks out here and there, with the whole package bitter and resinous plus sweet in equal measure. Lots of orchard fruit, butterscotch, nuts, golden raisin, and molasses kiss candy with an astringent tea bag note that comes on strong late. IPA-like hopping in the finish, which veers towards the harshly medicinal but does remain rooted in dried citrus peel and pine territory. Standout features for me include the malt complexity, nuttiness, classic barleywine orchard fruit elements, and assertive hop flavors. If there's a drawback its that things do get a tad harsh late into a bomber, which is probably a good reason to share this sucker with some appreciative aficionados. Still, a welcome introduction to this new to Alberta contract brewer for me.

 1,402 characters

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.

 264 characters

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.

 505 characters

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

 842 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, with another crazily busy label, this time illustrating a fireworks-directing, Grand Canyon-adjacent maestro, one who reminds me somewhat of the Hondo Ohnaka pirate character (maybe blended with Lyle Lanley from the Simpsons) of the Clone Wars cartoons that I've been catching up on lately - with my toddler son, of course!

This beer pours a muddy, darkly illustrious red-brick amber colour, with a tower of puffy, tightly foamy, and sort of bubbly beige head, which leaves some encrypted Republic transmission character lace around the glass as it slowly bleeds off into near-space.

It smells of sweet, nougaty caramel malt, flecked with more than a few toffee, demerara sugar, and treacle turbo injections, sharp pine resin, orange, lemon, and white grapefruit citrus rind astringencies, a pleasantly apparent, untethered mustiness, further tart black fruit notes, and a barely restrained, bristling, and, let's just say, threatening booziness. The taste is, well the taste is another incarnation of those gag-inducing first contact sort of deals - the swirling alcohol esters hit my high palate straight away, choking it before I can immediately appreciate the lazy followup of besotted bready caramel malt, hard toffee, sassy pine needles, bitter leafiness, real vanilla, syrupy brown sugar, earthy mustiness, and mixed and matched dark orchard fruit.

The carbonation is fairly involved, with a prominent, but yet soft frothiness, the body a stolid medium-heavy weight, and fairly smooth, once you get past that good ol' 'merican hop onslaught, and creamy with no such interference. It finishes on the sweet side, just, as the waning of the hops only slightly exceeds that of the malt - we're talking minimal amounts here, people, but a delta is a delta, so say the Greeks.

Not the most complex of barleywines, be they new or old world in origin or style, but that doesn't seem to be the aim here. Instead, what we get is an alcoholic paean to a, let's say complicated malt, the DIPA hop schedule that loves it, and lip service paid in full to that old-seeming musty difference maker. A slow sipper, to be sure, as duly noted already, but once past that simple physical limitation, all bets are off.

 2,220 characters

Photo of Bowers-Brew
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Felt compelled to drink this on 4th of July weekend. Merica!

A - Impressively large head when poured aggressively. Light brown with red tints.

S - Malt, yeast, brown sugar, alcohol and sour

T - Cleaner taste than expected from smell. Vanilla, malt, sweet, bitter

M - Thick and bubbly

O - Not a bad barleywine. Taste isn't as complex or deep as the really good barleywines. It's worth drinking again, but isn't something that I will go out of my way to try and get. Prost!

 478 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.01/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a 10 month old bottle shared with friends. Sampled on July 4, 2014.

The pour is reddish amber with a slight opaque quality to it. Looks the way a barleywine should.

It is nearly a year old and any booze has faded into the sunset. There is a big fruity and barley malt character in he aroma.

Medium body and comfortable on the palate.

The flavor is of sweet barley malts, lighter hops, and really no booze at all. I like my barleywines to mellow out a little before trying them and this one did.

 503 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, bottled on 05/09/14. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours a brown/ruby red color with about an inch off-white head that stayed around a while. There's also a good amount of lacing. The brew smells like caramel, toffee, dark fruit, bready malt and some citrus peel. Taste is similar to the aroma, it tastes like caramel, toffee, candied oranges, bready malt, dark fruit, and some citrusy and pine hops. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit syrupy and has moderate carbonation. And for the most part the 11% ABV is well hidden. I thought this was good, I wouldn't mind buying this again in the future.

 619 characters

Photo of Pahn
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. The year/batch/version dry hopped with Chinook (if there's different versions).

Appearance: Free pour yields a 1.5 inch frothy white head that leaves a wide ring of lacing. Pours a hazy brownish red.

Smell: Caramel and brown sugar American barleywine malt aromas. No Chinook aroma, which is sad since Chinook is one of my favorite hops. Not really very complex, but a nice, persistent malty aroma. Would be great in the Winter.

Taste: Follows the nose, with a nice oily hop flavor and feel complementing the brown sugary malt. Bit too sweet for my taste, but a lot of great barleywine flavors. Enough hot alcohol to cut through the sugar and develop the malt flavor. Again, a good Wintery sipper.

Mouthfeel: Thick side of medium bodied. Slight dryness, moderate carbonation. Pretty hot, which works well.

Overall: If you like Old Ruffian style American barleywines (bitter, with a heavy caramel/brown sugar malt backbone and ample alcohol), you'll like this. If you bought the bottle because it says "Dry hopped with Chinook," you may be disappointed.

As a side note, I'm not sure if this is the base beer for Billionaire, but it would taste great barrel aged. Time, slow oxidation, and wood can only do good to a big flavorful beer like this.

 1,282 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a ruby red body with brownish tints and minor head and lace. I pick up figs, booze (bourbon), wood, caramel, toffee and other sweet malts in the aroma along with hints of dark fruits. The body is thick, smooth, the booze does come out as there is a little heat. Malts are centerpiece as the sweetness from caramel and toffee, maybe figs, is prevalent but a good bit of balance from dry, citric hops gives this beer a varied taste profile. Maybe not a barleywine for everyone with extra hops and alcohol dialed back for style but it's pretty good.

 553 characters

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

 702 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.01/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled On 05/30/14

A: Pours a tawny amber/mahogany color with less than an inch of head that reduces to a fine layer of bubbles

S: Quite malty with big notes of fruity hops, sweet caramel, and estery alcohol. Nicely layered and complex

T: Starts off with a big malt presence, a bit of candied hops with some fruitiness, and some dark fruit notes as well. Goes into the caramel sweetness towards the end, which hides the alcohol very nicely. Some bitterness throughout, but it's overtaken by the maltiness and actual hop flavor. Finishes with some raisiny notes and more of the maltiness

M: Full bodied with low-moderate carbonation

O: A nice American barleywine that is good to sip on. The alcohol sneaks up on you, as it's barely detectable under all the maltiness. Pretty good price-point as well (relatively speaking), at $8.49. Certainly worth a try

 859 characters

Photo of hardy008
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy dark orange, with a 1/2 finger off white head, which fades to a small ring of foam, and leaves spotty lacing. The aroma has caramel, citrus, citrus zest, and toffee.

Tastes just like it smells with caramel, citrus, citrus zest, and toffee. Nicely balanced with plenty of hops, and sweet malt to provide balance. The alcohol is well hidden for an 11.00 % abv beer, and is not noticeable.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Has a citrus and caramel malt aftertaste. Easy to drink, and worth trying for sure.

 535 characters

Photo of EGreen
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Nice raisin candied yam, and how I don't know.. You may think this is crazy... But ice cream. Maybe its because its hot outside... Anyway... Very malty caramels and toffee. Raisin, prune, blackberry, plum(yes prunes are dried plums but the flavors are different), and somewhat syruppy... Now, not the maple, but if you've ever made syrup at home and tasted before adding any flavorings... Yeah, that. Mild hops on the finish. Bigger bodied and very representative of the style

 476 characters

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.

 1,318 characters

Photo of SerialTicker
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$10.99 bomber on sale for about $8.99. Bottled 5/09/14 and poured 6/6/14 into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint.

Appearance: Aggressive pour gave almost a beer-bottle brown, but with a bit more red, and two fingers of a frothy light brown head. Slight haze. Looks pretty phenomenal, really. A bit of lacing but not that much.

Smell: True to the style, which is quite triple IPA-y, if that were a thing. Just smells massive with a lot of hops, malt, and a bit of "warmth" as well. That meaning that while I don't specifically smell alcohol, it's pretty apparent that this beer is simply dangerous. Caramel malts and citrus fruits are really what I'm getting here though. A lot of orange really shines through as the beer warms up.

Taste/feel: Well, that sure is initially abrasive. Moderate sort of mouthfeel all around with texture and carbonation. I keep thinking that maybe a heavier feel would be better, but thinking about it some more, it'd likely make this beer too cloying, hence the 4 rating for feel... it really suits this particular beer very well. There's an alcohol flavor and warmth that's there beginning to end with a lot of drying. The booze also warms up your belly in a hurry, as it should at 11%. A LOT of sweet malt, with only a middle-of-the-road sort of hop bitterness at the end. Mostly citrus with a lot of orange and grapefruit qualities on the tongue. Not quite as bitter as some other American Barleywines I've had in the past, but there is definitely a quick little amount of bitterness that spikes at the end of each sip and lingers momentarily. This may actually be a decent choice for someone who doesn't like American Barleywines a WHOLE lot, but is open to some fruity flavors other than dark fruits in their Barleywines.

I've never been all that huge on American Barleywines, and this beer isn't exactly changing my mind. It's not bad, but it's not quite blowing me away. Looking at this beer objectively, it really does hit everything it ought to for the style, though. It's got a very nice malt profile, it's generously hopped (while not being insanely bitter), and the alcohol's (likely deliberately) not hidden all that well. It's hard not to appreciate this beer. Pretty dangerously drinkable. I recommend it.

 2,244 characters

Photo of PicoPapa
3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle with a Bottled On Date of 05/15/13. Pours a murky, muddy brown color with very little head. Fair amount of lacing. The aroma is malty with a good deal of dark fruits, earth, caramel and toffee. The taste is much like the aroma. Malty at first with raisins, caramel, earth, brown sugar and toffee. Boozey with a hint of orange peel. Finishes with some more caramel maltiness. Woody. Pretty noticeable alcohol presence that may have mellowed since the year it was released. Heavy mouthfeel. Slightly sweet. Overall, good Barleywine that I would buy again.

 565 characters

Photo of mick303
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at ACBF. This was a really tasty Barleywine, really intense, tons of strong boozy fruit, balance struck me as really interesting and quite nice. I was quite impressed with this, a very tasty Barleywine that has some assertive complex boozy fruits, plums, stonefruits, barrels. Quite nice.

 295 characters

Photo of lochef81
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This barleywine pours a deep rust color with a small short lived off white head that gives way to a nice film and lacing. The aroma is a subtle blend of sweet malts, West coast hops, and booze. Body is quite close to full with a very pleasant sticky coating texture and little carbonation. The flavor is not as subtle as the nose with an abundance of sweet malt, woody notes, dry herby hops, and alcohol. There is also a little toffee/caramel flavor for good measure. This is a solid barleywine. Can't wait to see how it ages.

 526 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clouded, hazy medium brown color with a well developed, light tan head. The retention is quite good as it slowly and evenly descends, leaving very scattered lacing behind.
Smell is a nice blend of malt, floral hops, wood, some light and dark fruits. In fact, so well blended, it was difficult to pry out the various individual notes. On to the drinking!
Taste is woody, with light fruits, dark fruits, alcohol, some floral and herbal notes. The balance is extremely good.
This nearly full-bodied, lightly effervesced brew is smooth, slightly drying and takes on a warming aspect fairly early, even before it warms much.

 627 characters

Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 5/15/2013. Pours slightly hazy deep ruby red color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of grapefruit, orange peel, raisin, pear, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, floral, grass, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus/earthy hops and dark/bready malt notes; with good strength. Taste of grapefruit, orange peel, raisin, pear, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, floral, grass, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Fair amount of floral/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, orange peel, raisin, pear, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, floral, grass, light pine, and floral earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity of citrus/floral hop and dark/toasted malt flavors; with a great malt/hop balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth and fairly slick/sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice barleywine. All around good balance and complexity of citrus/floral hop and dark/toasted malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

 1,458 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.