Boulevard Brewing Company beers started showing up on Ohio shelves for the first time two weeks ago. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this moment. In all my travels, I always try to bring back one or two of the 750s from their Smokestack series like Bourbon Barrel Quad or Brett-Saison. I had some of the core beers but don’t recall being too excited by them, at least not enough to make sure I smuggled them back into Ohio.
Boulevard started in Kansas City way back in 1989. They slowly grew to be one of the largest Midwest breweries. Boulevard was the 12th biggest craft brewery in 2012. Come 2013 they didn’t show up on the list anymore. That was because they were bought out by Duvel Moortgat which helped pull the combined company up to the 8th spot. Their beer has been available in 25 states, the closest being Indiana though I don’t recall seeing much there. I’m familiar with the brand thanks to travels to North Carolina and Georgia but now all we have to do is travel to the nearest grocery store!
On to the beers!
Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. This easy drinking American-style wheat beer has become our most popular offering, and the best-selling craft beer in the Midwest.
Malt: Pale Malt, Unmalted Wheat, Malted Wheat
Hops: Bravo, Zeus, Summit
Pale yellow with significant haze that prevents you from seeing through it. Topped off with a fluffy white head that reduced to a thin layer shortly after pouring.
Pepper, banana, and clove up front on the nose followed by a light presence of bread.
Lots more creamy banana flavor on the tongue backed up by a malt profile of bread and hay.
Light body with moderate carbonation. It’s a pretty dry beer but does leave a slight slickness on your tongue.
Eh, this is a good wheat beer, but nothing to get excited about. If you love wheat beers check this one out, if you’re so-so on the style save your money for Tank 7.
Pop-Up Session I.P.A.
Boulevard Pop-Up Session I.P.A. joins its big brothers Single-Wide and Double-Wide in our trailer park of hop-centric beers. This “session” model is built for frequent excursions, with a very drinkable character and relatively low bitterness tucked behind a big, fruity hop aroma.
Super dense creamy white head built of billions and billions of tiny bubbles graces the top of a dingy, copper-esk, hay colored beer.
Strong citrus hop aroma with light bready cracker notes in the background.
More strong citrus hops in the flavor along with an increased amount of crackers. Mild bitterness is fairly matched with moderate sweetness.
Body slides through your mouth with a medium-light weight and loads of carbonation.
Pop-Up is a good session IPA but in a crowded field this fails to stand out as exciting. Again, I’d definitely say to give this beer a try… but I’d say to give just about anything a try.
80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer
With roots in two of today’s most popular brewing styles, 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer is the result of careful cultivation by our brewers and cellarmen. Their efforts to craft a hybrid yielded a bumper crop of flavor; a delightfully distinctive ale with the aroma of an IPA and the refreshing taste of a wheat beer.
Hazy hay color under a cake of dense white head.
Oh yeah, that’s hoppy! Strong citrus and pine aromas blend with some banana and pear esters from the yeast. All of that rests on a wheat background.
Flavor brings more pear than banana which is interesting. I haven’t had many non-Belgian beers with this much pear. The hops are more pine and less dominant in the flavor that they were in the aroma.
Medium-light body that has a slight creaminess to it with mild carbonation.
Next to the Tank 7 this has been my favorite so far. But I’m beginning to realize that I may not be that huge a fan of wheat beers, or these wheat beers are mediocre, but I honestly think it’s the prior. I’ve never been a huge wheat beer guy and having two back to back drives that home.
Smokestack Series Limited Releases
The best is
yet to come already on a few store shelves! The beers discussed above are good examples of Boulevard’s core lineup. Enjoyable, but not necessarily memorable, beers. The Smokestack series bucks that trend entirely. The SmokeStack series has its core in Tank 7, Sixth Glass, Dark Truth, and Double-Wide IPA.
Most breweries have at least one piece of equipment that’s just a bit persnickity. Here at Boulevard we have fermenter number seven, the black sheep of our cellar family. Ironically, when our brewers were experimenting with variations on a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale, the perfect combination of elements came together in that very vessel. You could call it fate, but they called it Tank 7, and so it is. Beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish.
Malt: Pale Malt, Malted Wheat
Adjuncts: Corn Flakes
Hops: Magnum, Bravo, Amarillo
Super fluffy pure white head that builds to a massive amount even with a slow pour. Once it’s taking up half your glass it slowly fades down leaving a mountain in the middle and lacing all over the place. This is all on top of a super hazy hay colored beer.
Citrusy nose with grapefruit and pineapple up front. Belgian spicy yeast notes packing some spice, bubblegum, clove, and banana notes.
It tastes like spicy grapefruit bubblegum after having a nice chewy biscuit.
Medium body that is super creamy and highly carbonated.
This is a very enjoyable beer with a great spice note that gets kicked up by all that carbonation. Available in 4-packs at almost any store and 750s at bottle shops like Cappy’s or Middletown Fine Wine & Spirits.
These core Smokestack beers are all good and noteworthy but things get really exciting when you get to the “Limited Releases” like Bourbon Barrel Quad, which is aged on cherries, Brett-Saison, which lives up to it’s name, and Imperial Stout, which is coming with a number of variants this year. I said, “Limited Releases” because they’re really not that limited. You won’t be calling your local store or standing in line for these beers. Once we start receiving a steady supply they’ll be on every bottle shop shelf across the city. The Bourbon Barrel Quad is already in a limited supply here; it comes out in October so this is likely the last that Boulevard had on hand and some stores will not be getting it. If you’re aching to try the Bourbon Barrel Quad [footnote]which you honestly should be[/footnote] than I know that Cappy’s in Loveland has some available.
FULL DISCLOSURE: When I heard Boulevard was coming to town I reached out to them and they kindly sent me these samples. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me samples, giving me free beer does not guarantee you a favorable review, though I do promise to review your product and publish a post on it.