The newest addition to Boulevard Brewing Company‘s Smokestack Series is a collaboration brew made with Jean-Marie Rock of Orval. The text on the label and the name indicate that there may be more collaboration beers to come.
Rock and Steven Pauwels (from Boulevard) have produced a fine imperial pilsner. The No. 1 is a brilliantly clear straw, just as you would expect from a pils. The bone-white head forms a creamy pillow that lasts forever. The strong effervescence is balanced by the thick body. A sweet malty aroma greets you immediately, only to be pushed aside by the grassy noble hops.
Don’t be fooled by this beer’s apparent simplicity: the malt and hops are perfectly balanced, but the flavors are strong and rich. The malt jumps out at first, with a sweet and intriguing taste. Saaz hops are quick to reply, offering a grassy and lightly bitter accompaniment. The hop and malt flavors combine to create a wonderful flavor that basically defines beer, but imperial(ly?). The bitterness lingers just a shade, balancing the full, not quite cloying, palate.
This is a remarkable collaboration brew, as one would expect from its lineage. Balanced yet strong, flavorful yet simple, this beer is beer. Period.
Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner