1/9/19: Clown Shoes Beer's Snow on the Maple Tree

5:25 PM

This is a beer I'm happy to get to tonight. See, this is a stout that struck me as nothing less than a winter's night stout. Just yesterday, it was in the mid-fifties--far from what I'd consider "winter." Luckily, I still live in Ohio, so now, little more than twenty-four hours later, it's in the low- to mid-twenties. Snow's coming down outside and we have a fire in our buck stove. It's definitely a winter's night.

The beer I was saving? That'd be Clown Shoes' Snow on the Maple Tree, an imperial stout. Snow, maple, imperial stout--seems like this brew was tailor-made for me. On paper, at least. How will it hold up in practice?

Clown Shoes' website is, unfortunately for the design of this post, under construction. So, I'll pull my information on the brewery elsewhere. Their Facebook page states they've been around since 2009 and that they aim to "...make beer without pretension...." Other than that, my bottle tells me they're based in Boston, MA and Windsor, VT. That's the best I have for now.

The info I have about Snow on the Maple Tree also comes from my bottle: Clocking in at 11.25% ABV, this is an imperial stout that was aged in bourbon barrels that, at one point, held maple syrup. The bottle also states that the "...beer is a beautiful compliment for a winter night." I guess I did good by holding off on this bottle until winter returned to Southeast Ohio, huh?

I cannot get over this stout's nose: maple syrup stands heads above coffee and chocolate notes. There's something warm and oaky, solidly vanilla, that can only have come from the barrel aging process. Surprisingly, I'm not picking up any overt alcohol here. Maybe Purrl did, though--she gave my bottle three whiffs. That's not too much of a shame, though. More aroma for me.

The sweetness of Snow on the Maple Tree hits my palate first. It's sugary, and wholly derived from the maple that previously occupied the barrels that help it. Beyond that, however, there's coffee, dark chocolate, dark fruits, and some toffee kicking around in my bottle. The vanilla is still here, too. A bite of booze caps off my swig before the maple makes a triumphant return in the finish, only more subdued now, and much more akin to it's aroma.

This is a smooth beer. Not so smooth as to be velvety, but smoother than that boozy bite noted above would lead you to believe capable. This isn't to say that there's also not some sharpness here, but the carbonation is far from what I thought it would be from the taste. In fact, it's exactly what you might expect from a stout.

The last winter Michelle and I spent in Athens, we'd fall asleep with the blinds in our bedroom open. We mostly did this for me. In fact, I'm not sure that Michelle would remember (or if she even really noticed) that we did this.

I enjoyed the way the world looked through our bedroom window on those winter nights. Well, not the world so much as the sky. There was, as you might guess, some light pollution. This gave the dark sky an orange and (oddly) purpley hue. When it snowed on those nights, the flakes were similarly colored and illuminated, lending some surrealness to the vista I watched while I grew drowsy enough to sleep.

I knew I'd like Clown Shoes' Snow on the Maple Tree, but I didn't know I'd like it this much. This "drank in 2019 beer" is setting the standard against which I'll judge the rest of the beers I talk about on the blog. It gets an easy 10/10. My bottle was around $15, and I hope that my bottleshop has some more on its shelves the next time I'm in--I want to pick up another bottle or two.

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