Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The pun’s the fun with Clown Shoes Genghis Pecan Porter

Evan Sahagian/Daily Collegian

Like most writers with a sense of humor, I’m a sucker for a good pun. And when I say a “good pun,” I really mean any pun; I masquerade like I have standards, but the worst puns are always my favorite. Some of the best beers I’ve sampled have in fact been crafted from the worst of puns. “Hoptimus Prime” from Legacy Brewing Company and Ninkasi Brewing Company’s dark Christmas ale called “Sleigh’r” are among the most humorous, but there is certainly no lack of a pun-laced trend in craft beer names.

My latest delve in the realm of cleverly titled beers heralded the discovery of Clown Shoes Genghis Pecan Porter, a name that conjures simultaneous contrasting images of pillaging barbarians and warm pecan pie. With that strange but laughable image in my head, I was sold. Though the humor of Genghis Khan as a pop culture trope is all but exhausted, the pun serves its purpose in terms of being facetious enough to warrant a purchase.

Genghis Pecan is a limited release from the Clown Shoes Brewery, a refined reissue of its 2012 Pecan Pie Porter. Last year’s original batch was brewed with pecan extract, but the newly renamed Genghis Pecan is brewed with real roasted pecans and brown sugar for a more authentic flavor. Contract brewed at Mercury Brewing Company out of Ipswich, Clown Shoes has been brewing unique craft beers since 2010, and due to the small size of its operation, it maintains a relatively limited distribution. Its beers are available throughout much of New England and scattered locations across the country.

Aside from the title, Genghis Pecan’s label is an odd sight to behold as well. The cartoonish visage of the beer’s namesake, adorned with all the trappings of barbarity, appears fighting off a flock of clown shoe-wearing turkeys with a pie in each hand. Befuddling though it is, from a company with a name like “Clown Shoes,” a certain level of ridiculousness is to be expected.

Disregarding the bizarre visions catalyzed by the label, Genghis Pecan pours out a dark purplish brown with a sizable tan head that dissipates rapidly, leaving behind traces of foamy brown lacing. There appears to be very little in the way of particles or sediment when held up to the light, but the overall opaqueness of this beer makes that determination a bit difficult. Boasting a bold brown sugar aroma highlighted by the smoky scent of roasted pecans, this beer almost literally smells like a pecan pie; notes of molasses and spice flood the senses, augmented by the definite scent of toffee mixed with caramel. The only aromatic difference between this beer and grandma’s pecan pie is the distinct scent of alcohol. Perhaps all those tawdry holiday dinners with family might have been more interesting if booze had been grandma’s secret ingredient.

In terms of taste, Genghis Pecan doesn’t hold to the flavor of pecan pie so much as the aroma. The creaminess in the body of this beer highlights the tastes of chocolate and caramel malt, but the booziness in the aftertaste negates the warm sugary sensation of pie. There is a pleasant balance of sweetness and acridity on the tongue, and the medium-body of this beer lends itself nicely to a smooth drinking experience. Genghis Pecan fits nicely into the family of classic American porters with a malty sweetness amplified by mild bitterness from the hops, but stands out from the crowd as a result of its unique spice arrangement. Sweeter themed beers can easily toe that dangerous line of too sugary, but Genghis Pecan balances out the syrupy quality of the sugar with mild carbonation and a subtle smokiness in the malt that makes for a flavorful beverage without the added density.

In addition to crafting some truly delicious brews, the Clown Shoes Brewery takes its business a step further than the competition in terms of freshness. The majority of brewing companies place the bottling date on the paper label of the bottle, but Clown Shoes has gone the extra mile to emboss the manufacture date of its beers on the actual bottle to maintain precise freshness. In an alcohol market that seems far more geared toward selling large volumes of product rather than promoting quality, this kind of dedication to ensuring freshness puts Clown Shoes a cut above the competition for more than just its exquisite beers.

The porter qualities of Genghis Pecan lend themselves well to compliment a heavy stew or meat dish, but the sweeter brown sugar elements can pair well with pasta or lasagna. And, naturally, Genghis Pecan will surely make an excellent accompaniment to a big slice of pecan pie, albeit sans the alcohol content.

Though Clown Shoes distribution is limited, a fair selection of its seasonal and year-round brews can be found at Spirit Haus in Amherst. In addition to Genghis Pecan I recommend its Vampire Slayer Smoked Imperial Stout or the Galactica IPA, both of which are as flavorfully diverse as their titles are titillating. Better than their superb flavors is the price: most 22 oz bottles of Clown Shoes beer run well under $10, a surprisingly low price tag for such a small independent brewery. Any brew from Clown Shoes is guaranteed to be equal parts funky and unique, and possibly a little bit strange. But when it comes to craft beer, a little bit of strange is not only embraced – it’s encouraged.

Emily A. Brightman can be reached at [email protected].

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