It was late 2011 when Clown Shoes Beer first stepped foot in Texas, a turn of phrase I used in the title of a piece I did on their arrival while writing for another website. Looking back on what I wrote, while I made a point to share some thoughts on other beers in the brewery’s portfolio, there’s no denying that I was most taken with the mythical beast of a beer known as Blaecorn Unidragon. In fact, after that the beer became a staple in my personal imperial stout rotation.
Since then, the beer Clown Shoes says is brewed with a “monstrous amount of malt” has gone on to form the basis of a number of different offshoots. One of these, Porcine Unidragon, was a barrel-aged version of Blaecorn brewed with beechwood-smoked malt, while another, The Good, The Bad and The Unidragon, was a Texas-only release incorporating darks malts sourced from that state’s Blacklands Malt Co.
The latest entry in the series is A Fistful of Unidragon, and while the name may or may not imply it, the beer is one that’s seemingly been influenced by each of the above incarnations. Also a Texas exclusive, it’s a barrel-aged version of The Good, The Bad and The Unidragon that adds Blacklands’ mesquite-smoked malt to the baseline recipe.
Taking stock of the result, the swarthy brew that is A Fistful of Unidragon emits ample aromas of dark chocolate, backed by moderate bourbon, light smoke and some lingering wood tones. The chocolate intensity maintains throughout the taste and into the bitter finish, met there by a stronger sense of both smoke and bourbon. Regarding the first of those descriptors, A Fistful of Unidragon isn’t exceedingly smoky, but the mesquite has a presence that contributes well to the beer’s complexity.
On the topic of the bourbon, though, one could certainly say that A Fistful of Unidragon has a bit of a boozy air about it. It doesn’t quite drink like a shot of bourbon, but there’s a lasting warmth that leaves little doubt that this beer is a stiff drink. The good thing is that the malt base is rather burly to begin with, so in that respect things never seem too far out of balance.
Despite the show of strength, A Fistful of Unidragon is a beer that drinks remarkably well. A fair dose of carbonation helps to lighten the load of what is otherwise a full-bodied affair. It’s not so much that it has a thick and heavy feel, but the palate is chewy and the flavors do tend to coat the tongue with what amounts to a dark chocolate, bourbon-laced blanket. Naturally, this works to create a lasting impression of the beer’s flavor profile that stays with you long after each sip is spent.