“Hello my friend we meet again. It’s been awhile, where should we begin?” – My Sacrifice, Creed
It’s not often I sit down and get to evaluate most of a breweries offerings that enter Stateline Liquors in one shot. So when new-kids-on-the-block Boulevard Brewing landed, in mass, at the store I though I would avail myself of the opportunity. Only that’s not quite what happened.
I drank my first purchases. On a Sunday, relaxing outside, away from a keyboard or note book. I decided the second time to only buy a couple of the beers and do individual reviews them, but they also disappeared without so much as even a sniff of a review. The third attempt, the one that I was finally going to get serious about also came and went, but at least I got a picture:
And finally, i walked into Stateline, bought a mixed six-pack of what Boulevard packages in 12oz bottles, and hunkered down on my couch. The result of this is procrastination is probably not the best beer review I’ve done or ever will do, but one thing did come out of all this – I’ve really grown fond of Boulevard’s beers.
The four beers below are from Boulevard’s Smokestack Series, a series of beers brewed for bolder flavors and a higher ABV than you would find in their normal offerings. The Smokestack Series beers come unfiltered and (like all of Boulevard’s beers) bottle conditioned. You can find more information about the series here. Numbers in the () designate the beer’s number in the series.
I started off with Double-Wide IPA (#2), a “Twister Proof” ale, that is an interesting animal whose grain bill (besides the usual suspects) contains brown sugar and dextrose. Five hop varieties are used to balance all that out, and for the most part they do a pretty good job. The beer has nice caramel malt balance to it, but it has a good slant to the hoppy side that consists of a little grapefruit and some tropical fruits. Although the label says IPA, as the name hints and the 8.5% ABV indicates, this is solidly in the DIPA category.
Next up is Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (#9), which apparently is named after a very temperamental fermenter. If there’s a style that’s been growing on my lately, it’s saisons and I think this is a pretty darn good one with it’s fragrant flower/Belgian yeast nose, and it’s peppery/hop finish. It’s not a heavy beer, but still manages to hide its 8.0% ABV pretty well, that is until you stand up after drinking a couple.
Long Strange Tripel (#3), brewed in honor of long time employee Harold “Trip” Hogue and named after a Grateful Dead tune, is a nice golden triple with notes of bananas, citrus and pit fruits. The medium body is crisp with a light malt sweetness with a dash of peppery spice. Although the 9.0% ABV is more apparent in this beer than the 8% was in the Tank 7, it is still very easy to drink, too easy.
For our final beer in our tasting we turn the pages of one of the many tales by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. In The Watchman of the Tower, Taarnvægteren Ole tells a tale of six glasses that I’m not even going to pretend I understand. But he states that in the sixth glass, one can find the devil. I guess it’s a statement about drunkenness. Which is appropriate if your sixth glass (and indeed the five before it) contain this quadrupel, Sixth Glass.
While I found the others to manage to lull you into a false sense of security, I didn’t find this to be the case with The Sixth Glass. Oh don’t get me wrong, the 10.5% ABV isn’t overly noticeable, but you get a little warmth from it after all the sweet, malty caramel and the over the top raisin and cherry flavors have washed through your mouth. This thing is big, with so much going on in the taste that you just know it’s not going to be good for you – but you don’t care.
As I said at the top, I’ve really come to like Boulevard’s beers and apparently I’m not alone as I’ve seen some pretty good ratings and compliments about them on other sites. Picking a fav in this bunch would be hard as only the Sixth Glass would I toss out because it’s not something I’d drink every day. The other three are top notch, with me leaning towards the Tanks 7. I’m hoping to bump into some of these on draft one day.
The meaning of the Creed verse at the top of the post? Well, when I went to check-in one of Boulevard’s beers on Untappd, I didn’t see it on the list so I scrolled all the way down to the bottom. And that’s when I saw it – Zon. A light bulb went off and I went to the cabinet to retrieve a glass that until a recent clean up, had been sitting in a cardboard box on the floor of my barroom.
About 8 years ago my high school friend Brian moved to Kansas City and eventually married a woman he’d met there. The night before his wedding, he took me and our friend Dave (who along with me, was co-best man) out to a local brewpub, the name of which I had long since forgotten, but for some reason I never seemed to forget the name of the Belgian Wit I had that night, Zon.
When I had found the glass in the basement, I just washed it and put it up without really noticing the name of the brewery on it. Or if I did notice it at the time, it didn’t click with me. But now here it was, clean and ready be reacquainted with a long lost friend – a Boulevard brewed beer.
So I dedicate this post to Brian and his wife Patty. Life may take you and your friends in different directions to a point where you honestly think you may never see them again. But sometimes when you least expect it, life will bring you together again. Apparently even if those “friends” are a glass and a beer.
Time for another beer……preferable with a old friend…