Well, it's hard to top the first official Brew-F-C challenge, where Pliny the Elder narrowly beat out Zombie Dust, but, alas, the show must go on. And don't worry folks, we'll be bringing back the Brew-F-C soon with two new top tier beers battling it out!
However, this week, I tried two ales infused with fruit: a mango kölsch and a blood orange pale ale.
Up first, an East Coast favorite: Clown Shoes.
Clown Shoes is the first beer we've reviewed from the Bay State. They call Ipswich, Massachusetts home and have been brewing since the very end of 2009. They have a few year-round beers, like their Space Cake DIPA and Undead Party Crasher stout, but they make a ton of interesting and seasonal brews. This is one of them.
So far you can find their beers in California, the entire Northeast (minus Vermont), and parts of the South and Midwest (including the MAClands of Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois). Here's a handy map to see if they're by you.
This kölsch poured a semi-cloudy golden straw color and was barely dusted with any foam. The smell is delightful. It's mostly mango but there is also sweetness to it and a hint of some other fruits too. The aroma alone won me over and made me glad I bought this beer.
My first sip was just as I had wanted, and expected. There was that sweet mango flavor, with a tiny buzz from the hops, but it finished really smoothly and left me wanting more. Thankfully, I had 21 ounces left still.
After a few more tastings, I noticed some pear and apple flavors sneaking out of it as well, but it was still mostly mango. It was like someone melted down a mango candy, added alcohol, and bottled it. And you can even tell that this beer is 6.5% alcohol. It's hidden so well and drinks so easily, it could just be juice.
It's a semi-dry beer and doesn't leave any lingering aftertastes. Mangö is very mild carbonated so it barely leaves any lacing around my glass.
If there is one problem with Mangö, it's that it is too sweet. Once you get deeper and deeper into the bottle, the sugar catches up with you. It still tastes great, just becomes really sweet.
I haven't had too many Clown Shoes beers but this is certainly my favorite one so far. Overall it is a great tasting, easy to drink summer beer and one of my favorite kölschs so far (although, honestly, I haven't had a ton of this style...yet). At $5.99 for a 22-ounce bottle, it's even reasonably priced. The only downfall is the sweetness...but if you like mangos, get this beer! 8.5/10
Next I head all the way to the other side of the country to review Elysian's Superfuzz, a blood orange pale ale.
Elysian Brewing comes to us from the great Northwest...Seattle, Washington to be exact. They have four restaurants throughout Seattle in addition to their big brewery. They've been brewing beer since 1995 and caught a huge break when Gameworks wanted them to operate a brewery in 1997. After the five year contract ended in 2002, the two split ways and Elysian blossomed into the brewery they are today. As of right now they're only available in about 20% of the US: Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. But that will change soon enough I'm sure.
Superfuzz is a pale ale made with blood oranges, so it came as no surprise that it poured a cloudy orange, almost copper color. There was barely any head topping the beer after I poured it from the bomber into the glass but there were hundreds of bubbles rapidly ascending towards the top, making me think this would be a rather carbonated beer.
It smelled like a sugary, sweet orange had been cut and squeezed into my glass with just a tiny backing of hops, pale malts and a hint of pine. My first sip was enough to make me want to go back for more.
At first it was a smooth, really balanced beer with a tiny hop attack upfront but I didn't really taste any orange or citrus flavors, so I needed to go back for more. And that's where I found them. There was a nice sweetness from the sugar that balanced out any bitterness this beer would have (it has 45 IBU, so it's not too bad to begin with). A hint of the citrus flavor coated my tongue, but nothing was too overpowering and it all balanced quite well.
As I continued to drink Superfuzz, the flavor remained consistent and delightful. I've had grapefruit and citrus beers where the sugar leaves a sticky residue on your tongue as you continue to drink it...but not this beer. The lacing around the glass is intermittently thick, marking major sips, but is mostly just sporadic around the glass.
This is a very tasty pale ale. You get the hops, you get the orange/citrus, and you get it all with no side effects...except felling slightly buzzed. It's only 5.4% ABV but after a 22-ounce bottle, it'll catch up to you. It does have one exception: the price. From what I've seen, it's all over the place. I paid $8.99 for my 22-ounce bomber, but I've since seen a 6-pack for $11.50 and bomber going between $8-12. So it fluctuates quite a bit.
My suggestion, if you see it for less than $10...buy it! This is a fantastic summer beer. It's as easy to drink as a session IPA but still has the ABV of a pale ale or IPA. Plus, it's a smooth, flavorful beer that I wish I could get year round. This is my third Elysian beer, but they are quickly becoming my favorite brewery from Washington. 8.5/10