Brew Blog: Clown Shoes Clementine

I hate clementines. We always seem to have a bunch of the baggy skinned, overly sweet little buggers lying around the house, too, as my kids love them. I don't know exactly why I hate them; in theory, they sound delicious. They promise to eliminate many of the things I hate about eating oranges out of hand: easy to peel, no seeds, little in the way of pith. Somehow, though, they end up seeming like chewy little bags of pulp with an overly sweet yet surprisingly flavorless juice. I don't know that this fully rational dislike of clementines has any bearing on my dislike of Clown Shoes Clementine, but I prefer to wear my bias on my sleeve.

I picked this one up at Spec's (along with their Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA, yet untried) on one of my regular scouting expeditions. I make a habit of swinging by at least every week or so, checking for new and untried beers. I was genuinely excited to try this one, and I was genuinely disappointed when I didn't like it. While I'm talking bias, though, I should probably mention the fact that I had been sick for several days prior to trying this one. A big part of me hopes that my palate was still off as a result, because this beer was just plain odd.

It poured a very hazy orange-yellow, tinted vaguely red in the middle. Very little head quickly gave way to a thin skim sitting on the middle surface, with lots of bubbles flitting around in the ruddy murk. I was actually surprised to find so little on the surface, once I saw all that action down below.

The aroma comes on strong with an initial burst of coriander and a hint of citrus peel. That fades quickly, though, and then things get weird. Tomato paste comes up next; sweet, rich, and mildly tart smelling. Carrots and other roasted vegetable aromas follow the tomatoes, and we're not even to the weird part, yet. Roast beef. The beer smells like roast beef. Combined, the disconcerting assemblage of scents leaves the impression of canned beef stew. This is not a good sign.

Hoping this was just an odd aroma, I took a sip. The first taste was thick with clove and coriander, and I thought perhaps my aroma notes had been a fluke. A hint of almost minty bubblegum comes up next, reinforcing the yeast. Then, it's back. It's more restrained and not as objectionable, but my mouth is again coated with a savory, beefy character.

Forcing my mind around the beef, I detect a bit of unripe pear, a slight metallic tang, and some sweetish hints of citrus peel (it tastes like concentrated orange-juice, but fainter somehow). A very mild hop presence sneaks in, itching the sides of the tongue, followed by an odd soapy essence that comes in in the background, reminiscent of the smell of dry erase markers.

As it warmed, some of the beefy and vegetal notes faded out, manifesting more as spice and citrus peel. I'm still not entirely sure how that happened. I could still see the echoes of those odd flavors, though, like repressed memories creeping into my consciousness with each sip. The citrus, unfortunately, manifests like disinfectant, not fresh fruit.

I can't imagine the brewers wanting the beer to taste like this, so there's either something wrong with my tastebuds, or something wrong with this bottle of beer. Overheated in transport? I don't know. Either way, this isn't good. Interesting, but not good. Has anyone out there tried this one, yet? How was your experience? Is it just me? How about you brewers out there; what could account for these extremely strange characteristics? Assuming it's not me, of course. . .

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