Sunday, September 8, 2013

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout review

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial StoutApril 2013 marked the arrival of Clown Shoes beers to Colorado. Clown Shoes is a brand of beer made by Mercury Brewing Company of Ipswich, Massachusetts and there were already a lot of fans here in Colorado. One of the biggest beers from Clown Shoes to arrive is their Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout.

Blaecorn Unidragon bottled this beer back in April 2013 and I saved a bottle until just recently. Despite it being a hot 90 degree day, I decided that I wanted to try this big 12.5% ABV brew. Clown Shoes packaged this brew in a 22oz bomber bottle and I was up for an evening's challenge to polish off this entire bottle at home. Turns out, Clown Shoes also offers this beer in handier 12oz 4-packs, but I didn't see those at my local store.

Clown Shoes describes this beer as "Brewed with a monstrous amount of malt and combined with aggressive American hops, this beer is powerful and complex and designed to age. Smokiness is subtle but present and blends nicely with the rich, dark flavors." - Most Russian Imperial Stouts I've tried are big malty and chewy, but I don't believe I've had one with a bit of smoke in it before. That peaked my interest and I wanted to give this beer a full review.

Appearance: Blaecorn Unidragon poured very dark, nearly black in color with just a trace of mahogany edges. It had a modest, brown frothy head to it, but I only gently poured about 6-8 ounces into a snifter glass so the head didn't have much of a chance to build up. During a second pour I was much more aggressive and the frothy head build up very nicely. Swirling the brew allowed a decent amount of lacing to cling to this glass and as the beer warmed the lacing was much more prominent. The bottle opened with a gentle hiss so I know the beer still had some carbonation. It was too dark to tell if there was any sediment.

Aroma: The aroma on this Russian Imperial Stout was filled with a big amount of dark roasted malts. If there was supposed to be some smokiness in this beer, it was faint as the chocolate malts dominated. There was just a hint of alcohol in the nose and the hop presence was there, but well put into the background. The roasted malts.

Blaecorn Unidragon close-upTaste: The malts were the big feature in the initial sips of this brew. Rich, roasted, with notes of unsweetened chocolate. There was also a big of "tang" in this beer, not sour mind you, but a sense that there was something more to this beer than just dark malts, hops and yeast. Perhaps that was due to the way the bottle was stored at the store over the last several months. I could not pick up much smoke in the taste. This brew was not as drying as other big stouts. The base was just mildly sweet. This beer also gave a mild tongue coating with a hint of chocolate.

As this beer warmed up, I started picking up more alcohol notes. The texture of this beer became more creamier as it went along. Some of the hidden sweetness did come out later in the session. For the stout lover in me, this beer did the job. However, I probably would have enjoyed this beer more in the winter than in the last remaining Dog Days of Summer.

Overall: While this beer was very satisfying, it was far from the best RIS that I've had. It was well made, but seemed to lack a boldness and flavor that I've experienced in other brews. I wish there was a bit more chocolate and toffee notes here. Still, I finished an entire bottle and wasn't disappointed. The tang that I experienced up front seemed to subside later on. Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon made for a respectable example of a Russian Imperial Stout. However, if I went to the store in the future looking for an imperial stout I'd probably look at others.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store.

Related articles:
- Firkins and Clown Shoes taps at Hops and Pie.
- Loveland Aleworks Imperial Stout review.
- Grimm Brothers The Count Imperial Stout review.

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