This being my first encounter with a brew by Clown Shoes
I sought out some info about them on the Internet. I discovered that all of their beers are contract brewed – as is Heady Topper. Clown Shoes began back in 2009 when Gregg Berman, then a wine distributor, decided to start a career in the glamorous brewing industry. He contracted with Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, Massachusetts and seems to be with them today.
The article I found noted "In fact, some of the most sought after brands like Heady Topper and Clown Shoes are widely known to be contract brewed." Not only did I not know that Clown Shoes was contract brewed but I was also blissfully unaware that their beer was amongst the most sought after. (I guess in Rumsfeldian language this was an unknown known. Or would that be a known unknown?) I suppose I read an element of rarity into "sought after" although I suppose that is not necessarily so. One could understand that sense of being hard to get if Clown Shoes was only distributed in areas that have place names out of H.P. Lovecraft stories. But I can buy it here in Madison so it cannot be scarce in the same way I understand Heady Topper to be.
Truth be known, I tend to think of Clown Shoes as the brewery that made Tramp Stamp and features brown-skinned women in various states of undress on their labels. (On the other hand, I do not recall a blonde ale with a skinny, blond woman in a bikini on the label.) This is perhaps unfair but they created labels to catch my attention and succeeded. Yet another pale ale, however, failed to catch my interest. It was, I believe, back in the spring that I heard about Mangö
, Clown Shoes' mango American Kölsch and this did, however, catch my interest.
Clown Shoes has some distribution here in Madison but I have never seen Mangö in these parts. Instead I found it in suburban Chicago. It is billed as an "American Kölsch" but I am not sure what this means. Perhaps they just didn't want to slap "Kölsch-style" on the label.
Regardless, Mangö pours an inviting light gold color. It was hazy which makes me wonder if American Kölsches have wheat in them. My guess is that the very small white head that my pour begat would have been larger had I been using a stange
. Alas, mine remain unpacked. The foam proved fleeting although the beer was quite effervescent with all kinds of bubbles inside.
The aroma featured the dual attack of the titular fruit as well as some cracker. The mango was up front, though not super pungent, while the grain came around the back in a pincer movement.
My guess was that the light berry-like taste of a traditional Kölsch (from the yeast) would be overpowered by the assault of the tropical fruit. While the customary fruity taste was indeed M.I.A., the mango's assault was really more like an extrovert at a meeting of Marcel Marceau Appreciation Society. It was never a cloying onrush but rather stood out because of the company. Still, the beer's clean, crisp taste come through. There was a light grain taste as the base and some grassy tasting hops that added contrast to the mango.
The M ingredients faded at the finish allowing those hops to take over. Everything about Mangö is an exercise in restraint so we're not talking a big hoppy blast but certainly enough for satisfyingly dry finish.
From what I can tell Mangö was introduced last year and I'm sorry I never stumbled upon it sooner because this is one tasty brew. A fellow from ancient Greece once opined "everything in moderation" and Clown Shoes have taken this to heart. This is simply a nice, light brew with a slight emphasis on the mango that doesn't drown out the tasty, light grain and hop flavors.
I know crafty brewers want me quaffing their Oktoberfests but I am still in the mood for beers like this.
Junk food pairing: Mangö's core philosophy is one of moderation/restraint and this should carry into your food pairing. Get some El Rey lemon flavored Tostaditas Chips. They are thin, light, and crispy. On the other hand, you can throw convention out the windows and double down on the fruit with mango snack cakes. Check your local Asian grocery store for these.
Labels: Beer, Clown Shoes Beer, Kölsch