Belgian Pale Ales are something I've only started to really enjoy over the past year. The beer that convinced me I should drink more of this style was Poperings Hommel Bier. Since then I've been looking for other pale Belgian style ales with bright hops and sweet underpinnings. This Hommel Bier from Perenial in Saint Louis gives the style an American slant, with hops from the Pacific Northwest. It's evident when you drink this beer that it's hoppier and more bitter than something like Poperings, but shares a similar grain bill and yeast profile so you still get a touch of sweetness and a hint of Belgian character.
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.
Schlafly's Raspberry Coffee Stout was released this past summer, an odd time of year to release a dark Coffee Stout. Not being a fan of coffee flavored beer during any season, I didn't pay too much attention to it, at least not until I got to sample a glass of this limited release at a fall beer festival. This beer was surprisingly light, it's only 7% alcohol, and there wasn't an overly bitter coffee flavor to it. This was the kind of coffee beer I could get behind. I tried to get my hands on a full bottle but the first run was pretty limited and it seemed to sell out really fast, so I was surprised on Christmas morning when I tore through my presents to find a bottle of Schlafly Raspberry Coffee Stout.
Tin Mill is a brew pub I'd heard good things about. They're located in Hermann, the heart of Missouri wine county, which much nicer than it sounds... Starting earlier this year Tin Mill has started bottling some of its beer and sending it to the far reaches of the Show Me State. I picked up this bottle in Saint Louis earlier this summer when I wasn't exactly in a hurry to drink a Maibock, so this bottle sat in the basement for three months or so. Well, the weather is cooling pretty rapidly and another daylight savings time is nearly upon us, so I figured it was high time I open up this Tin Mill Maibock and see what I've been missing in Hermann.
O'Fallon is a brewery I want to like. I want to like them very much. O'Fallon is located a little west of St. Louis, it's a small brewery with fewer than 10 employees last time I checked. They make some really interesting styles of beer, a Peach Wheat, a Hemp infused Rye, a Cherry Chocolate Christmas seasonal and a Smoked Porter. Cool stuff, and it doesn't taste half bad... or at least that's how it was before O'Fallon got a little too popular and couldn't support the added capacity in-house. The result was a contract with Stevens Point in Wisconsin that'd allow O'Fallon beers to be brewed/bottled on a larger scale. Sounds great, but O'Fallon's brewers couldn't get the recipes right for the longest time and quality took a big dive. I've avoided most of O'Fallon's beers since then because they really weren't any good. I've returned from St. Louis with a bottle of their Wee Heavy and a glimmer of hope that things of turned around.
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.
Helles beers are great in the summer. You can't enjoy a heavy stout in 90 degree weather as much as you can in the fall or winter. I believe all beers tastes the best during autumn, but that's another topic for another time... It's not quite 90 yet but it's definitely warm, it's also yard work season... which means it is high time I crack open my first Helles of the year. Schlafly recently rebranded its Helles Lager when it changed the packaging from bottles to cans. Their Summer Lager is essentially the exact same as before, except for the can of course. This also happens to be my first can of beer, not just of the season but in many years...