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.
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.
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...
I first had Boulevard's Imperial Pilsner at the beer's release party in Lawrence, Kansas. In case you hadn't heard, this Imperial Pilsner is a collaboration between Boulevard Brewing Company and Orval's master brewer Jean-Marie Rock. Steven Pauwels, Boulevard's brew master, and Rock met at a conference in Tucson last year. It was there that these two Belgians hit it off and agreed to collaborate and resurrect a beer Rock had brewed some 30 years before. The style that beer most closely resembled is what we now call an American Double or Imperial Pilsner.
Boulevard's Tank 7 has had an interesting release... This beer was first made available at the brewery tasting room last summer. I happened to go on a tour just after the first batch hit the taps and had a few samples. At the time, I didn't care for this beer at all. I took a couple more tours between summer and Christmas and drank a collective pint or more of the Tank 7 in the tasting room. Each time I had this beer it tasted a little spicier and hoppier than I remember. I'd heard Boulevard was planning on phasing out their Saison Smokestack Series and replacing it with this beer, so I kept going back to try this beer and see if maybe I just got a bad glass... but no, I just didn't like the Tank 7.
Boulevard's Long Strange Tripel is one of those beers that I've wanted to drink for the longest time but never got around to it for one reason or another. The Long Strange Tripel is one of Boulevard's original Smokestack Series beers. I love Belgian style ales and I've wanted to pick up a bottle of the Long Strange many times but it seems like I've always overlooked it in favor of more exotic beers when I'm at the store. I finally got a sample of the Long Strange at the Kansas City Beerfest last fall. I'm not sure if it was the quality of the beer or the fact that it was poured by Mr. Harold "Trip" Hogue himself, but this was definitely the highlight of the day.
My previous experience with Boulevard's Bourbon Barrel Quad is pretty limited... Last year I waited a couple days too long to start looking for bottles around town because it seemed that everyone had just run out. A friend of mine was kind enough to bring a bottle over last winter so I was able to at least have a glass, but that was it... Here we are a year later and I made a point to check the local liquor stores early and often. About $50 later and I've got a quad of Bourbon Barrel Quads all to myself...
There aren't a whole lot of Wheat Wine style beers on the market, so when Boulevard first announced it would be releasing a harvest-time Wheat Wine I was really excited. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the Harvest Dance other than the vague similarities to Barley Wine. The Harvest Dance is, in many ways, the opposite of a Barley Wine. Technically, there are many similarities between the two styles, but the Harvest Dance is much lighter and sweeter than most Barley Wines. The Harvest Dance is to Barley Wine, what white wine is to red wine. What I mean by that is even though both are stylistically the same in the many ways, the flavor profiles are quite different.