Coming up on its sixth year in the brewing business, Clown Shoes Beer has carved a seat firmly in the craft beer market producing some great bold, high ABV beers at price points lower than most of their competitors. The beers are contract brewed by Mercury Brewing Co. in Ipswich, Mass.

Clown Shoes Pierre Ferrand Billionaire bottle

The first iteration of Billionaire, was aged in Remy Martin barrels but this time around the people at Clown Shoes got their hands on some 30-year-old Pierre Ferrand barrels to accentuate their take on an English barleywine.

Clown Shoes Pierre Ferrand Billionaire poured into a Spiegelau snifter showcased a hazy burnt-orange, brown body and minimal tan colored head. Typical appearance for a barrel-aged barleywine.  The nose exposes tons, and I mean tons, of sweet dark booze character. There are also dark fruit and prune juice notes, as well as notes of bready malt that show up more as the beer warms.

Clown Shoes Pierre Ferrand Billionaire

First sip reveals a tea-like astringency and loads of palate drying oak tannins. They coat not only the tongue but also the throat in a not entirely unpleasant manner. Very little booze heat is detectable and impressive for a twelve and a half percent barrel aged beer. The mouthfeel was super fluffy, almost cloud like, for the first couple of sips but fell completely flat after a few minutes.

I’m no cognac expert but I am familiar with it. However, if I didn’t know before hand that this beer was aged in 30-year-old cognac barrels then I would have never known. It is just not distinguishable amongst other spent spirit barrel-aged barleywines. So I guess what I am saying is that I don’t see any appeal to marketing a specific cognac barrel-aged beer beyond brand name recognition. Maybe this slogan from the description on the bottle will help to explain it, Here’s to rare beer wishes and caviar dreams!

Clown Shoes Pierre Ferrand Billionaire
BREWERY: Mercury Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Ipswich, Mass.
STYLE: Barleywine
ABV: 12 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $15.99
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
A big, bold, and rich cognac barrel-aged barleywine. Billionaire delivers on all those fronts but misses at striking a balance between the astringency, hop bitterness, and malty sweetness. A little more sweetness comes through as the beer warms up and I enjoyed it more at those warmer temps (~50 F). I believe Pierre Ferrand Billionaire would be a good candidate for the cellar to allow some of the harsher bitter notes to mellow out.
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