Ass Clown Brewing Company
1060 Bailey Road
Cornelius, North Carolina
Visited on January 11, 2014

I wasn’t expecting very much from a recent addition to the Charlotte beer scene that is a solid 20 minutes outside of the city – much less from yet another startup in a nondescript strip mall – but I was pleasantly surprised by Ass Clown. Actually, they blew me away.

First of all, I love the space. They’ve taken what had to be a boring, bland, office-like space and have turned it into something funky, cool, and relaxing all at the same time. Vintage furniture like a couch and arm chairs dot the sides while nice tables fill the center. One wall is lined with a bar-top made of what looks to be beautifully reclaimed wood from some random fallen tree. There are television spaced throughout the entire place and they’re happy to change the channel to meet your whims.

And the music rocks – a great mix of classic oldies, rock, and modern alternative rock. You can’t help but feel at home the second you walk in.assclownout

But then there’s the beer. I typically expect a half dozen, maybe a dozen at most, taps from a small place like this. Most times you only get three or four. So imagine my surprise when I found an entire wall lined with their own experiments – 31 taps in total – along with some barrel-aged wines.

It’s not just the number of taps that are impressive, though. They’ve got wildly experimental beer that you won’t find counterpoints at anywhere else. It’s definitely not the dreary beat-to-death varieties that every brewpub has. For example, there was a banana bread stout, a sea salt chocolate stout, seven varieties of fresh-hopped IPAs, blood orange IPA, and maybe 10 sours.

There is one downside to the wide range of experimentation, however. While swinging for the fences, they knock some of them out of the park; but they also strike out a lot. Their double IPA is delicious. The banana bread stout is unique and nearly as good as some of Southern Tier’s famous imperial stout varieties. The blood orange IPA is great. But the sea salt chocolate stout comes in too salty, the pumpkin sour doesn’t taste like pumpkin or anything else that I want to drink, and, in fact, most of their sours are just sour without any complexity or balance.

assclowninThat’s okay, though. For every miss, they also have a solid hit. So you end up with at least 15 very good beers. That’s way better than six mediocre ones in my book.

I wish I lived next door.

Location: 20
Food: NA
Beer: 19
Service: 18
Overall: 19
Total: 77 (of 80)