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Belt’s Beer Garden: Clowning Around

Clown Shoes’ Baked Goods & D9’s Hakuna Matata

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This week it’s the east coast that gets the spotlight as I have a beer from Massachusetts and another from North Carolina.

I’ll work my way up and start with Carolina’s D9 Brewing.

D9 started back in 2014 in Lake Norman, North Carolina, about 25 miles north of Charlotte. Their goal is to become the leading producer of wild ales in the southeast. Right now you can find them all throughout the Carolinas.

They offer just four year round brews, a tangerine session IPA, a tropical IPA, a double IPA, and a mocha brown ale. My friend, who just got back from North Carolina, brought me back their tropical IPA – Hakuna Matata.

Hakuna Matata is a blend of eight different hops from across the globe (the US, Germany, and New Zealand, Slovenia, and the UK to be exact). A six-pack is priced just higher than usual, costing $11, and each bottle contains 72 IBU and a 6.5% ABV.

It poured a dark copper, slightly amber color with very little head topping off the beer. Little more than half a finger of off-white bubbles sat atop the brew and, very quickly, it fizzled away into a thin layer across the surface with a small ring around the entire edge.

On the nose there are big tropical notes. Pineapple, mango, and peach led the way with some floral notes (from the added elderflowers). But lingering behind it all are caramel and bready malt notes that cut into the hops and attempt to balance the beer out.

My first sip began with very little carbonation initially (it would fizz up towards the end of the sip though). It had a smooth, creamier mouthfeel and a medium body. The flavors slowly and subtly billowed up and it was the floral elderflowers that hit first before the tropical flavors of pineapple, grapefruit, and mandarin orange followed.

As the hoppy citrus flavors fade, the malts follow with heavy doses of caramel and more of those elderflowers. The 6.5% alcohol inside this bottle was completely hidden behind all those flavors. The beer then ends slightly dry with a lingering floral bitterness that lasts a few moments. But, for 72 IBU, it’s not nearly as bitter as I thought it would be.

Hakuna Matata might not have had a lot of head initially but the beer laced my glass pretty well throughout the beer. Large webs coated the side of my glass with a few well-defined sip marks in between.

All in all Hakuna Matata was good but not great. I was hoping it would be the tropical fruits that owned the taste but, instead, the elderflowers and malt held most of the power with the hops and tropical fruits taking a backseat.

Up next, from the northeast, Clown Shoes’ and one of their newer beers.

Clown Shoes is located in Ipswich, Massachusetts and opened at the very end of 2009. They have a few year-round beers but make a ton of interesting and seasonal brews. You can find their beers in just about half the country. They’re available in the entire Northeast (minus Vermont for some reason), most of the Midwest (including the MAClands of Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois) and southeast and some states sporadically out west. Here's a handy map to see if they're in your state.

I found one of their newer brews, Baked Goods, which is a hoppy pale ale made with Azacca, Centennial, Idaho 7, and Mosaic hops. I really love Azacca and Idaho 7…so, even though I haven’t even opened the can yet, I’m thinking I’ll enjoy this beer. A six pack is priced at the standard $10 and each can comes with a 5.5% ABV and around 50 IBU.

The beer poured a bright golden straw color with some nice fluffy white head building upwards. About two full fingers of foam ending up atop the liquid and had some decent staying power – even after a few minutes there was still a good half inch of bubbles around the outer edges of the glass and a little less floating around in the middle.

Baked Goods had an incredibly hopped-up but really juicy aroma. Huge tropical fruits filled my nostrils and had elements of peach, passion fruit, mango, pineapple, papaya, guava, and even some melon. Behind the hops, but adding some more sweetness, was some light toasted malts. It was wonderful. I couldn’t wait to dive right in.

My first sip started with a bold burst of carbonation that lasted for a solid few moments. Almost immediately, even as the carbonation still danced on my tongue, the flavors flooded my taste buds. And it was initially every bit as tasty as it smelled.

Like with the aroma, the tropical fruits once again overpowered everything; although, this time there was an additional hop bitterness throughout.

It was the peach, mango, guava, and melon that stood out the most but additional flavors of lemon zest and oranges jumped in towards the second half of the taste. The toasted malt was there to try to balance that hoppy bite and it did some…but this was certainly a hop forward brew (as the can initially notified me…“hoppy pale ale”).

On the backend of the sip there was a hoppy, citrusy bitter bite that lingered well after the beer was gone, as well as a bit of dryness that amplified the hop sting.

As the beer was quickly dispensed from my glass, the bubbles did their thing and stuck around, clinging to the walls in huge cloudy web formations with some really well defined lines that monitored each sip I took.

All in all, I really liked Baked Goods. The only downfalls, to me anyway, were the lingering hoppy bite and the massive amount of carbonation – the mouthfeel was just too fizzy for me. But, flavor and aroma wise, it was great.