Clown Shoes keeps rolling out the new beers. The North Shore outfit -- which makes its beer at Mercury Brewing, home of Ipswich -- recently released new batches of two beers that couldn't be more different: an India pale ale and a Russian imperial stout.
Vampire Slayer is the yin to that yang. Pitch black with a thin brown head, Vampire Slayer has an aroma that's all malt. Pungent espresso notes spill out of the glass well before your nose approaches it.
This is a big, viscous, chewy beer. It even tastes black -- bittersweet chocolate, French roasted coffee beans, smoke. Despite all that, it's smooth on the palate, with an ever-so-slightly bitter aftertaste.
Reads the label: "Our second anniversary ale incorporates signature dark malts, holy water, and malt smoked locally with hickory, ash, and vampire-killing stakes." It's tongue in cheek but only mildly hyperbolic. Vampire Slayer is 10 percent alcohol by volume. A 22-ounce bottle costs $9 to $10.
The IPA is called Supa Hero, an homage to the way we locals pronounce (or don't) our R's. The label, too, is a shout-out to Boston -- beer in hand, a superhero flies over landmarks such as as the Zakim Bridge, the Old North Church, and the Pru.
The beer pours a pretty tangerine color with a little head that dissipates after a few minutes and a bouquet of pine and grassy hops. There is a little bit of citrus, but this is not as potent as are many IPAs or double IPAs.
Bitter and dry, but not sticky, Supa Hero doesn't taste all crazy hopped like many IPAs or DIPAs, either (and this beer does straddle the IPA/DIPA line, with 8 percent alcohol). As the beer warms up, more orange/citrus flavors come through. The bitterness lingers, but here again it's not a crazy bitterness -- this IPA registers only about 50 International Bitterness Units.
Several varieties of hops were used in this beer, and I'm told the recipe will change from batch to batch, so this will rarely be exactly the same beer twice. This is a solid IPA, and it's worth trying, but there are better ones out there at a lower cost. A 22-ounce bottle costs about $6 to $7.