The long awaited return of Boulevard's Imperial Stout is nearly upon us (unless you live outside of Kansas City, in which case you can probably already find it at your local liquor store). The last batch of Imperial Stout was bottled in January 2008. It's a popular beer, one that people have been asking about it's return for three years now. I don't know what the reason was for the hiatus, I'm just glad it's over. The last time I had a glass of Imperial Stout was in December of 2008 and I remember liking it a little too much... It was at the end of a night where a lot of good beer was being passed around, so I definitely wanted to revisit it. Three years later, I've finally got my chance.
It's finally here, the long awaited collaboration brew from Boulevard and Christopher Elbow arrived in Kansas City this week and it was welcomed with open arms... a LOT of open arms. The larger liquor stores around town received around a dozen cases of Chocolate Ale and nearly every bottle was sold before 5pm on that first day. It seemed this local collaboration really struck a chord with Kansas Citians, it also didn't hurt that this is a chocolate beer and it hit shelves right before Valentine's Day. Whatever the reason, folks are clamoring to try the Chocolate Ale, and I can't blame them.
Boulevard Dubbel is an, as of yet, unreleased beer that's undergone a long development process. I first had this beer almost a year ago at a Boulevard brewmaster luncheon where it was paired with a short rib ravioli dish. The Dubbel went really well with the food and I couldn't wait to pick up some Dubbels at the liquor store. When I asked Steven Pauwels when the Dubbel would be released he said it probably wouldn't be any time soon. Apparently this beer has been brewed a number of times over the past nine years and the brewers still aren't happy with it. I was completely sold on the Dubbel I had last spring, but then I had it again in the fall...
Boulevard's Unfiltered Wheat is a staple. Nearly everywhere you go in Kansas City has this beer on tap, or at least in bottles (glass and/or aluminum). This beer accounts for about three quarters of all beer produced and sold by Boulevard, it's huge... it's also mainstream. I don't mean that as a knock, I mean that more in the sense that it's Boulevard's Fat Tire, it's their Boston Lager or Shiner Bock. It's mass produced and nearly ubiquitous, but it's still a good beer. When I go to a ball game or bowling alley I'm never disappointed when Boulevard Wheat is on tap. On the other hand, it's usually my last choice when I'm out at a bar looking for a great beer.
I'm not exactly sure how this happened... but, I managed to go 250 beer reviews without drinking a bottle of Boulevard Brewing Company's Sixth Glass. I'm shocked. It occurred to me the other day while at the liquor store, I was walking by the Boulevard section asking myself if there were any new Smokestack bottles I should be on the look out for when I saw the Sixth Glass and realized it's probably been two years since I've had a bottle of that beer. That means I haven't reviewed it yet, which seems odd because I remember really liking that beer and it doesn't seem like it's been all that long since I've had it... Oh well, I guess time flies when you're drinking good beer.
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.
Boulevard Amber, the beer no one was begging Boulevard to make, is nearing completion and slated to hit store shelves around mid-June. Boulevard will be sneaking this beer into 12 pack samplers at first and release dedicated six packs later on. There doesn't seem to be much fanfare around this beer, I can only assume that's because it's an Amber. That's right, it seems Boulevard has made just about every interesting style of beer already so in an effort to round out their portfolio they're releasing an Amber. But seriously, it's an under appreciated style I enjoy more than I like to admit, so I'm genuinely excited for this beer.
If you're from the Kansas City area you know all about Tom Pendergast, the Democratic party boss who ran Kansas City during the Great Depression. Pendergast, though corrupt, is remembered affectionately a Robin Hood type who fed the poor, indirectly gave rise to the Kansas City jazz scene and was responsible for putting Harry S. Truman on the national political stage. What's this all have to do with beer? Well, Pendergast's faction was referred to as goats... an animal often associated with the Bock style. Bock being the German word for a "buck" or any large male animal. The correlation is tenuous at best...
It's Imperial Stout season but Boulevard seems to be running a little behind this year... In lieu of another release of their Limited Release Imperial Stout, Boulevard has bottled a modified version this year and called it the Dark Truth. A very ominous name on it's own, but if you turn the bottle around and actually read the flavor text on the back you might think Boulevard is trying to sell this beer to guys who are waaaay in to Dio and like to volunteer at the local Renaissance Fair. "He who imbibes the Dark Truth shall find himself filled with the strength of mad bear!" Ok, it's not actually that bad... but there are references to alchemy and "hidden knowledge."
It's not very often that you run across a beer like Boulevard's Rye-on-Rye and that makes it a little to set expectations. I expect this beer to be different, to push the boundaries a little and bring something to the table that other Rye beers, or other barrel aged beers, don't. I started to worry a bit when I saw the label for the Rye-on-Rye, it says that this bottle contains 33% ale and 67% ale aged in rye whiskey barrels. That's a 2:1 ratio in favor of barrel aged beer, meaning this beer is going to taste a lot like a whiskey barrel. That sounds a bit dangerous...