Archive for the 'Boulevard' category
The latest trend/fad in beer styles is the White IPA (soon to be renamed by the Pacific Northwest as Cascadian White Ale) with Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, Samuel Adams’ Whitewater IPA, Saranac’s White IPA, Anchorage’s Galaxy White IPA, Harpoon’s White IPA, and even Shock Top Wheat IPA (does that mean the style has already “jumped the shark”?) all being announced or released recently. I can understand why brewers are hopping on the White IPA train because it seems like a sales juggernaut to combine IPA (which is the largest selling single style in the US) with a White Ale (Witbier) (with Blue Moon producing upwards of two million barrels of the stuff a year* and their dollar sales increasing even faster than craft beer’s), and I am surprised it has not happened sooner. Commercially the White IPA combination only came about recently with a collaboration between Boulevard Brewing and Deschutes (this statement will probably be proved wrong by either a former employee of the The Vermont Pub & Brewery or Ron Pattinson), when they brewed their aptly named White IPA. Now I have in my stash said beer (the Boulevard Brewing version of the recipe), and decided to crack the beer open and find out what this White IPA style is all about.
“Enticing” was the first word in my head, when I caught the first whiffs of aroma, orange and fruit, emanating from the bottle. Poured into a tulip glass the golden-colored beer produced a rocky white head with a good inch and half depth that lasted four to five minutes, and did not disappear until half the glass was consumed. As the head’s bubbles burst, aromas of orange, green apple, herbs and yeasty tang ensconced in my nose. My first sips were full of coriander, and sage, which I did not find overly enjoyable, and a sour yeast finish. With time however, the beer’s orange and fruit flavor, initially noticed in the nose, made a more pronounced showing, though never truly overcoming the initial herb flavors. The sour was also counter balanced by a light bitter note. The beer throughout the session had a dry, crisp, and refreshing finish.
Now my foray with the White IPA was not on the best of terms. As I was drinking the beer I happen to notice on the label a “best by” date (in my opinion “best by” dates should be found more often on craft beer) of 02-2012, so my beer was nearing the end of its “life”. With that in mind, and my belief a fresher White IPA would display a stronger IPA characteristic that would counter balance the herbal notes of the White Ale, I am still on the fence with the White IPA style. Adding white ale’s herbal characteristics to the fruity chracteristics of the IPA style did not do anything for me. I am not a fan of herbal beer, and this did not help change that. I did however enjoy the sour-bitter combination the yeast imparted, and the dry, crisp, refreshing finish of the beer, so I am not against trying the White IPA style again. And with so many White IPAs coming out in the ensuing months, it looks like I will have plenty of opportunities to decide which side of the White IPA fence I am on.
*Guesstimate based on this post.
Photo Credit: walknboston, Creative Commons License
Well, folks, I’m afraid we’ve reached the end of the line with the Boulevard sampler. I’ve been impressed on all levels with this brewery. Each of the beers has been quite good, some of them spectacular. Furthermore, they’re not overly expensive. I only wish these guys distributed down to NC! I suppose I’ll just have to make a point of enjoying them while in the Dakotas…
This porter pours an ultra-deep brown color with a fairly thick caramel head that sticks to the sides of the glass. In the nose, there are ample tones of smoke and nut. In addition, I’m catching an odd sweetness to the aroma that is oddly reminiscent of bubble gum. In the mouth, this is surprisingly carbonated for a porter, but this isn’t a bad thing. The carbonation kicks the tongue into gear and makes the flavor all the more powerful. This is really a pretty straightforward porter from this point on. There is the flavor of smoky pork, and there is a pronounced nutty bitterness around the middle of the tongue. In the aftertaste, the smoke kicks into gear and sticks around like you’ve been chewing on embers. Altogether, it’s pretty good. Honestly, I’m not in much of a porter place right now, so this isn’t knocking my socks off. However, this isn’t bad. Again, pretty straightforward, but a good representation of the style.
Next up in our journey down the Boulevard brewing company is the Pale Ale.
This ale pours a nearly luminescent dark golden color with a thin white head and ample carbonation. There is also a fair amount of dense debris here, indicating a secondary bottle fermentation. The first sensation in the mouth is a light burn due to the carbonation. After that, we’re hit briefly with a sweetbread malt taste that is almost immediately overtaken by a pronounced hop bitterness. The hop here is a blend of the floral and metallic and is, frankly, quite delicious. The bitterness is a bit more intense than you expect from a pale ale, but that is no problem to me. Overall, I’d rank this as a pretty good pale ale. I’m not going to say it’s the best out there – honestly, I’d probably reach for a Sierra Nevada before this. But, that being said, this is very good and something I would love to drink again. It’s big, flavorful, and carbonation heavy, all of which can be good. But, I think it lacks a bit of complexity, and I’d actually prefer a bit more malt here.
So far, so good with the Boulevard beers – I haven’t had a dud yet. Today, let’s try out the Stout.
I’ve gotten accustomed to seeing unusually dark beers from Boulevard. Unfortunately, with a Stout, that’s hard to pull off, ’cause they’re all black as oil. This one is no different – very dark with a thin caramel head. In the nose, this beer is quite pungent with a variety of flavors, including caramel, smoke, and nut – very nice indeed. The flavor of this Stout is very, very good, albeit it a bit bitter. The flavor transitions from an initial caramel sweetness to a flavor that quickly picks up nutty notes. Meanwhile, there is a notable smokiness that begins to fill the mouth, from side-to-side and front-to-back. Around the middle of the mouth, the nutty flavors begins to get more bitter, and that transition continues to the back of the mouth, where the sweetness has all but disappeared and the bitterness lingers long into the aftertaste. Meanwhile, that smokey flavor just won’t stop, and it clings to the mouth for quite some time. This beer manages to grab all of the predominant flavors that we associate with Stouts, and it contains them all in large doses. It is rather dry, it is extremely flavorful, and everything is in a moderation that allows the flavors to play nicely together. Hats off to Boulevard for one of the best American Stouts I’ve had in a while…
Next up is the Boulevard Irish Ale, a seasonal offering from these folks.
This beer pours a very dark amber hue with some light debris, which makes this much deeper and more intimidating than most Irish ales out there. In addition, there is a thin, swirling caramel head that floats around on the surface of the beer. In the nose, this beer has a caramel-cream sweetness, which is again a unique feature. So far, this beer seems darker, stormier, and sweeter than most Irish reds, and we haven’t even tasted it yet!
In the mouth, this beer more or less lives up to the hype. There is a very rich sweetness that has aspects of dark malt and caramel cream candies. In addition, we get a light hop presence on the back of the tongue that adds some off-setting bitterness that just keeps this from tasting like a dessert beer. In addition, there are some earthy tones that seem to swirl around the sides of the mouth, and stick around in the aftertaste long after the bitter and sweet flavors have had their say. This is a pretty big beer – certainly bigger than the vast majority of Irish red ales. If I were really in the mood for an Irish red, there are many beers I’d sooner reach for. However, I can honestly say that this is a tastier beer than most of them. However, the extra sweetness makes this a divergence from the typical style. So, if you’re in the mood for a dessert-ish Irish red, this will be a great beer for you. However, if you want something a bit more typical, go grab a Killians.
Okay, folks, get ready for a barrage of Boulevard Brewery reviews. I just picked up a fresh mixed-sixer of their beers, so I’m prepared to get a head-full of this stuff. So far, I’ve been impressed with the two of their offerings that I’ve thus far had, so I hope for a good showing from the rest.
The Lunar Ale gives no real style indication on the label, only indicating that a pinch of yeast is tossed in at bottling so that this beer can undergo a secondary fermentation. This is not a strange practice in craft-brewing, so that doesn’t really tell us much. I guess we’ll just have to figure it out on our own…
This beer pours a medium purplish-brown color with noticeable dense debris (surely a by-product of the secondary fermentation) and a nearly non-existent head. The aroma of the brew isn’t terribly rich, but rather shows signs of light grape and a light Kool-Aid undertone, which is quite unexpected. In the mouth, the first sensation is of a light fruity sweetness, most reminiscent of white grape. On down the tongue, some touches of dark malt come into play that give this a rootsy flavor that really reaches a peak around the back of the tongue with a bitter, earthy blast. Down the throat, this earthy flavor slowly subsides, leaving behind a residue of the light grape flavor and an overall refreshing and clean aftertaste. Overall, this is a really good beer. It doesn’t really stick to a particular genre, but it reminds me most of some Belgian brown ales that I’ve had. That being said, this actually tastes more expensive than it is. It’s refined, tasty, and complex enough to keep you coming back for more – probably the best Boulevard beer I’ve had so far.
Here’s the second offering from Boulevard that I’m trying out. Yesterday, I told you guys that this was a Hefeweizen but, actually, it appears that this is an American style wheat. Normally, this is a bummer for me, ’cause I really like the Bavarian style. However, this does also claim to be the best-selling craft beer in the Midwest, so there must be something to it, right? Let’s see…
This beer pours a lightly hazy golden color – about right for a wheat ale, but maybe a bit lighter. Also, there is a ton of carbonation in the form of tiny streams of bubbles – this is becoming a theme with Boulevard beers, and not a bad one. The aroma here is fairly non-descript. The main component is citrus, without much else rearing its head. In the mouth, this is actually much more flavorful than I expected. However, I can’t say I’m totally sold. There is a decent amount of citrus here, and a ton of sweet wheaty malt. Interestingly, the wheat flavor here is a bit mustier than I’m accustomed to, giving it a flavor that is akin to wet cardboard. Okay, now, I know that sounds terrible. It’s not THAT bad. This wet cardboard sensation is fairly fleeting, occurs near the middle of the tongue, and then transitions into a second burst of sweetness with a light tart flavor that is very good and flows into the aftertaste, slowly diminishing over several seconds. In fact, while I’m not into cardboard, it does make an interesting divider between the light early citrus and the late tart sweetness. Really, this isn’t a bad beer, especially for an American version. It’s big and flavorful and ends on a high note. I still wouldn’t take it over most any Bavarian wheat beer, but I consider this a good and interesting American take on the genre.
Oh, the joys of a new state and new beers to drink! Today, we’re trying offering numero uno from the Boulevard Brewing company out of Kansas City. I actually picked up a couple of their offerings – a Belgian Witbier and a German Hefeweizen – both somewhat similar genres, and two of my favorite genres, at that.
This beer pours a lovely witbier hue – light hazy golden, with a high level of carbonation evident in the streams of tiny bubbles (Don Ho would be proud). The aroma is lightly metallic, lightly citrusy, and full of that trademark sweet yeasty aroma that you’ll find in many witbiers. The flavor of this beer is actually rather full for a witbier, as opposed to the light and refreshing taste you sometimes encounter. This one starts with a decent carbonation bite, followed by some lemon zest on the tip of the tongue. As the beer travels down the tongue, the zestiness continues and is joined by a yeasty sweetness that coats the tongue and gives this beer a fairly thick mouthfeel. In the end, the predominant flavors here are of Belgian witbier yeast and lemon rind citrus. This makes for a beer that is, in many ways, refreshing and quenching. However, this also has a slightly syrupy mouthfeel so it wouldn’t be ideal in an actual ‘thirst quenching’ scenario. I guess what I’m getting at is that this is a rather decadent beer that masquerades as a summertime treat. In truth, it’s good enough to be enjoyed any season, and flavorful enough to hold it’s own with most competition. There are better witbiers out there, but this is mighty good.