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Hidden Gems: Clown Shoes Black IPA

June 1, 2010

I was hesitant to try this one at first because I was thrown off by the label. “Clown Shoes”? I can’t for the life of me figure out what clowns have to do with beer, but I’ll let it slide. And how can you call something a “Black India PALE Ale”? Questionable naming decisions aside, I have to say I was impressed with the “Black IPA,” brewed by the Mercury Brewing Co. in Ipswich, MA. This is a beer that doesn’t know whether it wants to be a really hoppy stout or a really dark IPA, but I really don’t care because it manages to combine the best qualities of both styles. At 7% abv, the brew has a dark amber color and a nutty, roasted core from the roasted malts, with a piney kick at the end from the Amarillo and Columbus hops. As a fan of both stouts and IPAs, I found a lot to like with this one, and against all odds it does manage to blend the two styles seamlessly, creating an original and highly drinkable new style.

One thing I value when it comes to craft beer is innovation, and I like to see brewers disregard traditional styles and come up with something completely original, and this “Black IPA” definitely falls into that category. I’ve read that this style is more often called a “Cascadian dark ale,” referring to the region of the Pacific Northwest where the style originated, so for a brewery based in Massachusetts, calling it a “Black IPA” is supposed to be somehow less confusing. Go figure. But being as this is a relatively new style of IPA, it is good to see that brewers outside of the Pacific Northwest are taking a crack at it. You win this time, Clown Shoes…

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