Posts Tagged ‘Boulevard’

Anniversary Ales, Volume One

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Tonight is the first installment of a very long term two-part series. I picked up two bottles of each of two ales celebrating the anniversaries of two breweries. I will try one of each tonight; the other bottles will go in my cellar for a year. The breweries are Sierra Nevada in Chico, California, and Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri. Sierra Nevada is celebrating their 30th trip around the sun, Boulevard their 21st.

For this occasion Boulevard has chosen a pale ale brewed with fresh hops. I anticipate this will be tasty today, but the hops probably won’t stand up to a year in the cellar. Sierra Nevada went with a barleywine, a style much better fitted to ageing, given its strength and body.

The 21st Anniversary Pale Ale is a deeply hazy rust-colored beer. The sandy brown head is quite creamy, but there just isn’t very much of it. The nose is quite elusive. A light pepper and tangerine hop aroma comes first, followed by a variety of spices including cinnamon and fennel. Some straw and a light breadiness from the malt before more hoppy citrus comes as oranges and lemons.

The flavor is likewise ephemeral. A rich spiciness from the hops just seems to be asserting itself as it fades into citrus and a malty sweetness. This, too, passes, leaving just a bit of a lingering bitterness and perhaps some of the spice. Coriander, black pepper, and anise make up this spice, and lemon and tangerine the fruit. There is enough residual sugar to give a bit of a body, but it is remains very light. As the beer warms, the flavors linger longer and the bitterness becomes a bit more pronounced.

Now the barleywine. This is actually part of a series Sierra Nevada made in collaboration with four pioneers of the craft brewing movement. Unfortunately this is the only one I saw around here. If you have one of the others I’d gladly trade for it. Jack McAuliff (of the legendary New Albion Brewery) came out of retirement to brew this barleywine with Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada.

Jack & Ken’s Ale pours a black most dark, with a generous creamy bronze head. The nose is rich and sweet. A strong roasted malt character and rich nuttiness meld with a caramel malt sweetness and just a bit of fruit from the hops. The alcohol comes through with a faint bite. This beer is exactly what an American barleywine is supposed to smell like.

The flavor is likewise big and roasty, but the hops will not move aside for the malt. The rich nutty and roasty taste is balanced by the strong yet supple alcohol character. The blend of coffee and alcohol flavor and full bodied creaminess make this beer taste quite a bit like a white Russian. The acridity of the roasted malt and sweet hazlenuts and toast remind you that it is, in fact, a beer. Subtle grapefruit flavor from the Cascade hops marks it as an American one. Though the palate is full and the malt rich, there is just a bit too much alcohol flavor, making this beer taste excessively boozy. With another year I would imagine that will subside.

+Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Jack and Ken’s Ale

4.0 (5-9-7-3-16)

+Boulevard 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale

3.8 (3-7-8-4-16)

Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial PilsnerThe 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

4.6 (5-9-8-5-19)

Boulevard Two Jokers Double-Wit

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The latest release in the Smokestack Series from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City is a Belgian-style wit (meaning “white” or, alternatively, “wheat”) brewed to American-style strength. Reflecting this dual nature they have called it Two Jokers Double-Wit. This beer is loaded with weird stuff, and I don’t mean simply the coriander and orange peel typical of witbiers.Two Jokers Double-Wit They also threw in lavender, grains of paradise, and cardamom. For good measure they fermented it with a lactic-acid producing bacteria in addition to the usual wit yeast.

A huge pillowy head forms above the mildly hazy pale amber Two Jokers. The aroma is light, but much complexity is packed in. A swirl of spices is complimented by a delicate and refreshing acidic nose. Some fruit is noticeable (probably from the yeast) and a bit of wheat malt comes through.

In contrast to the nose, the taste is unabashed. The spices play a not-quite-too-agressive role, with especially the coriander and grains of paradise lending their unique flavors. There is but a hint of alcohol that is quickly covered by the acidity. A light citric fruitiness, of oranges and lemons, rounds out the flavor. The body is just a bit heavy despite the refreshing effect of the lactic acid.

The cornucopia of spices works wonders for the aroma but it might be a little too much on the taste. However, all in all a great wit.

+Boulevard Two Jokers Double-Wit

3.9 (4-9-7-3-16)

IPA Week: Boulevard Double-Wide

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

The Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri has released a number of special-edition beers called the Smokestack Series. Tonight I will try the Double-Wide India Pale Ale. This is the bigger brother of their Single-Wide that I reviewed a little while back.

Double-Wide IPAThe Double-Wide pours a lusciously hazy deep caramel copper color with a thick, frothy tan head. The nose is full of hop complexity: pine and a rough floral aroma dominate, with significant notes of herbs and citrus. The grapefruit character of Pacific Northwest hops is assertive. A rich malty aroma matches the hops, manifesting as caramel and toast as well as raisins and prunes. There is but a hint of the sharp alcohol, but it’s hard to notice for the pine.

On the tongue the Double-Wide is slow to attack. First I notice a bit of caramel followed quickly by grapefruit and other citric hop flavor. Later the herbal and piney hops come, bringing along a significant but not overpowering bitterness. The citrus and herbs circle the caramel and raisins while the bitterness grows softer and eventually fades.

This beer is serious yet playful, strong yet drinkable. As much as I love their Single-Wide, Boulevard has worked a miracle with the Double-Wide.

++Boulevard Double-Wide IPA

4.2 (5-9-7-4-17)

Boulevard Single-Wide IPA

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Released this year, Single-Wide is the newest offering from Boulevard Brewing Company out of Kansas City, Missouri. It is the metaphorical little brother of Double-Wide, their double IPA in the so-called Smokestack series. Boulevard points out that they use six varieties of hops, which you’ll note is twice the number of hop additions for Miller Lite.

2009-03-29-single-wideThe aroma of Single-Wide is at first floral and grassy like a field left fallow, but it is also subtly fruity. Identifying the fruit is challenging: apricots or peaches, some mango. While thick and complex, the nose is quite subtle – it requires concentration to bring out all the character. This ale is barely hazy, the color of a golden poppy, with creamy white head.

A taste brings pronounced bitterness on the tip of the tongue, with patience revealing a caramel malt driven flavor and body that balances. The bitterness grows more mild and spreads around the mouth, bringing with it a strong floral hop flavor. Some fruit character is present as well, manifesting as dark fruit such as pomegranate. The body is significant, with a bit of lingering caramel sweetness. Hop bitterness lingers towards the back of the mouth.

Overall I am very pleased with this beer. It is definitely an IPA, but its also quite sessionable. I am also happy that it’s not just half the recipe of Double-Wide. For that matter happy it’s not just a strong version of the Boulevard Pale Ale. Really happy that it’s their new permanent brew.

+Boulevard Single-Wide IPA

4.0 (4-8-8-4-16)