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On the Boulevard

September 19, 2011

There is a land called “the Midwest.” You may have flown over it once or twice. It’s that wide, open country between the East and West Coasts, where many people supposedly live and work. For craft beer aficionados up here in Massachusetts, most of these in-between states barely pop onto our radar, as the most well-known centers of craft beer are located in and around the coasts and in isolated pockets around the Great Lakes. Recently though, this paradigm was shifted for me when I discovered the Boulevard Brewing Company, whose beers just became available in Massachusetts (and subsequently graced our shelves).

Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Boulevard offers an impressive array of styles, and they manage to achieve the trifecta of having great artwork on their labels, top-quality beers, and reasonable pricing. Their Smokestack Series is the first volley in Boulevard’s attempt at breaking into the New England craft beer market, and they aimed it squarely at Massachusetts. I feel honored. Massachusetts was chosen because of the ease with which craft breweries can enter the market here (with our focus on independent distributors and liquor stores, as opposed to chain stores in other states). We are now the only state on the east coast to which Boulevard distributes, and I can think of at least five reasons why that is awesome.

Their recently-released “Nommo Dubbel” quickly became a personal favorite of mine. It’s a Belgian-style Dubbel at 8.1% abv, brewed with molasses and spices, with a deep amber color and subtle notes of clove and banana. Cinnamon is the most noticeable of the spices, but it has an earthiness from the Belgian yeast and flavors of fig and a little molasses give it a semi-sweet, dry finish. Basically, it’s everything you could want in a beer for the fall season. Their “Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale” ranks among the best American imitations of a traditional Saison, with a hazy golden color and a fruity complexity that finishes long, dry, and spicy. At 8% abv, it’s surprisingly mild and easily drinkable, but with citrusy hops lurking in the background along with hints of lemongrass, and a kind of peppery spiciness to keep things interesting. “Long Strange Tripel,” another hard-hitter at 9% abv, is a rich-tasting, golden brew that is velvety smooth and almost creamy. Fruity yeast comes through with hints of pear, melon, and apricot, while herbal, grassy hops balance out the sweeter flavors.

Almost all breweries release a token IPA when entering a new market, but Boulevard decided to double down. Their “Double-Wide IPA” weighs in at 8.5% abv, tasting of caramel and toffee with lush, piney hops in back and subtly floral notes. A very well-rounded double IPA, for anyone looking for hoppy complexity without feeling like your taste buds are being assaulted. Speaking of assault, the “Sixth Glass Quadrupel Ale” is designed to pack a punch at 10.5% abv, with flavors of red grapes, some green apple, and raisin propped up with a caramel malt backbone, and a boozy aftertaste akin to rum or brandy. Big, chewy, and complex, you might be tempted to try for that sixth glass (I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you feel the need to get acquainted with the floor).

The Boulevard Brewing Company clearly has a lot to offer, not least of which is the only viable reason I can think of to want to visit Missouri. With all the love that people in Massachusetts have for great craft beer, I think it’s safe to say that Boulevard will be here to stay.


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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lauren Cramer permalink
    September 19, 2011 8:06 pm

    Hooray for bringing in this new brewery. I love trying new beers, especially those new to the area, and I appreciate the large bottles. I’ve been picking up a lot more of them versus your typical 6-packs. I look forward to trying some of these and thanks for carrying such a great beer selection.

  2. September 20, 2011 10:34 am

    You’re very welcome. The move to large bottles is a definite step up in terms of discovering new and unusual beers, which is why we started our mix and match discount (6 or more big bottles are always 15% off). Enjoy!

  3. Bill D. permalink
    September 20, 2011 11:18 am

    I’m psyched that you are carrying their lineup! I first tasted Boulevard’s beers at the Belgian Beer Fest a couple weeks ago, and thought their “Tank 7” was one of the best American Farmhouse beers there.

    • September 20, 2011 12:30 pm

      Yea I’d never been big on Farmhouse ales before, but I loved the Tank 7. It’s definitely up there as one of the best Saisons around, period. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Chandra Zambruno permalink
    September 20, 2011 1:09 pm

    Strengthening my acquaintence with the floor is the least I could do. In the name of art. And the Midwest.

    • September 20, 2011 1:45 pm

      And science, you forgot science. Such selfless work we do…

  5. Erik Tomberg permalink
    October 1, 2011 5:33 pm

    I recently got a chance to try Boulevard’s Dark Truth Stout (also available in Mass.) — really interesting take on a Belgian-style imperial stout; super complex. Definitely would recommend it for fans of the those styles.

  6. Paul permalink
    October 12, 2011 4:47 pm

    We met the Boulevard brewer at the Night of the Funk a few weeks back. He was pretty excited to get distribution in Mass. I tried the Long Strange Tripel last week. A nice version of a belgian tripel. I’ve got to try some of their other stuff!

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