I’ve know a few people who ran off to join a sideshow, and I once flirted with learning how to breathe fire, but I’ve never quite understood the distinction between “circus folk” and “carnies,” even though Tod Browning’s Freaks and Wim Winders’s Wings of Desire are two of my all-time favorite flicks. Which brings me to Shmaltz Brewing Company’s Coney Island Sword Swallower, “A Dry-Hopped IPA Style Recipe Brewed with Lager Yeast.” I love their labels, with their vintage Coney Island sideshow poster charm, but am not typically a fan of lagers. So, did Sword Swallower make me want to join a freakshow, or did it catch in my throat?

Sword Swallower pours pale copper with a quick-falling fluffy head. Grassy and bready on the nose, with hints of lemon and an oily hop character. Hoppy and sour/sweet on the tongue, but brassy and bitter in the mouth. Sickly-sweet, cloying against the palate. Dry finish. Sat a bit uncomfortable in my stomach. Disappointing, since it’s much more of a flowery lager than an IPA. I’ll be skipping this one in the future.