Amber Ale - Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City
Boulevard's Amber Ale is nearly upon us! Well, nearly upon the good people of Omaha and Lincoln at least. The rest of us will have to be content with finding bottles of Amber packed into samplers for the time being. The official launch of Boulevard's amber is next week and they were nice enough to throw a couple bottles my way on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend. This is a beer I've had before, on a number of occasions... I may have had this beer more before it was officially released than Tank 7... which was on tap at some places for several months before the bottles hit shelves. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I like what Boulevard has done with their Amber Ale.
The preview bottles I got about a month ago were of a previous version of the Amber Ale that Boulevard was still tinkering with. It seems like they toned down the sweetness a little and kicked up the bitterness just a bit. This beer struck me as looking a little darker than the test version and it had a sweeter aroma with hints of maple. The flavor tastes more grown up than I remember. ...What I mean by that is, it tastes like what I want from an Amber. It seems to have a hint of rye in that malty wallop at first. The sweet caramel I liked so much in the test version is still here, it is just masked by more traditional Amber flavors and a dry bitterness.
In many ways the finalized Amber Ale is more in line with the style, but I do miss that sweetness from the test batch. Don't get me wrong, this is easily one of my favorite Ambers, but it is also one of my least favorite styles of beer, so your mileage may vary. I felt that while the production Amber Ale lacked some of the flavors I liked in the previous version, the final product ended up being more in line of what I was expecting from the beginning. I wasn't necessarily disappointed, but felt a little vindicated. People who drink a lot of Ambers will be able to appreciate this beer for what it is, a very well balanced Amber. It's a beer I would order over just about any of the other Ambers available in Kansas City because it is so well balanced and I could easily pair this with any number of meals I could see myself eating.
If you are new to the genre of amber colored beer or if you've been turned off by the bitter and dry Ambers that you've had before, I'd suggest picking up Boulevard's take on the style. The beauty of this beer isn't that it redefines the style, it's that Boulevard has calmed the Amber down. Like a loyal old dog in a room full of hyperactive puppies, this is the one you want around when it's time to relax and take things easy.
In the interest of full disclosure (in case it wasn't already obvious), Boulevard gave me these bottles of Amber Ale, they probably mistook me for some sort of Amber Aficionado rather than someone who generally doesn't care for the style.