Boulevard’s a Bust

20 Feb

Every time we travel, we try to find local craft beer to try, and when that fails we go regional. So, here we are in Arkansas, a little outside of Hot Springs, in a one light town. No brewpubs to be found, so we went in search of a bottle shop. The best selection was at the Wine Rack and Spirits Shoppe in Hot Springs. You know you’re not in Oregon anymore when the best beer shop doesn’t even have beer or bottle in the name. They had some Diamond Bear, brewed in Little Rock, but more on that later. On our little outing, we found no other beers brewed here in the Natural State even though there are a handful of breweries in Little Rock and Fayetteville, with just as many planned for the near future. So we went regionally and picked up a couple sampler packs and 22’s of beers from the South and Midwest that we don’t see at home. First up was Boulevard Brewing from Kansas City, Missouri.

Both of us were excited to try these beers. They were reasonably regional, Michael thought he remembered hearing good things about them, and they had several specialty beers in 750ml bottles to choose from as well. So we picked up the Double-Wide double IPA, in addition to the sampler, to compare with their standard IPA.

Unfiltered Wheat: this was a very light beer both in color and in alcohol. There was a hint of citrus right away but most noticeable was the cloves from the yeast. There was also a little skunkiness. This bottle might have been a little old for a wheat which is best served fresh. It was quite carbonated, maybe a tad too much.

Amber: this beer poured with a bubbly, light head. This was a wheat Amber ale, and we were not sure we liked wheat in the Amber, at least for this beer. The wheat was a significant part of the flavor. Unlike the wheat beer, this beer was very flat. There was not much here, and it was not very exciting.

Bully! Porter: right off the bat we tasted the roast and raisins. This is a slightly sweet porter but it definitely finished with a bitter roast and some coffee notes. The body was really light and the alcohol was low. I didn’t feel that this was a very balanced Porter. Although so far in the tasting, this was definitely the best beer so far.

Nut Cracker Ale: this was the best smelling beer in the pack. It was slightly sweet with a rich malt and some fruitiness. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as impressive to drink. We have a suspicion this brewery uses the same hop and yeast in all their beers. The hops are the wet and musty kind. They really should change this from style to style. I also noticed a weird flavor in this beer, almost vegetable-like, maybe celery? It may have come from the hops, but it was definitely a weird taste the should not have been in a winter warmer.

Pale Ale: there was consensus around the table this was a very very mild beer. This could serve as the base to the rest of the beers that we had. It was the same profile and was very light in flavor. One person said this tasted like water. Another said, oh I think this is better than water. But that’s it. So there is definitely a sense that this is a pretty bland beer.

IPA: this beer had a little more flower and citrus hop, especially on the nose but also in taste. It had the same base as everything else so far, but the additional aroma hop is an improvement over the rest of the beers in the sampler pack.

Double-Wide IPA: this beer came from the brewery’s Smokestack Series. This was number two in the series and it was a double IPA, basically a stronger version of their single wide. We thought that there was a nice amount of hop but it definitely wasn’t a hoppy beer. This didn’t seem to fit the style of the double IPA – not enough hop at all. It smelled great; there’s a lot of caramel malt and flower and spicy hops on the nose. This beer used a lot of old world hops for sure as it had a lot of spiciness and less citrus and grass hop than you would find in American style IPAs and with West Coast hops. This is definitely not hoppy enough as it was almost too sweet from a lot of caramel malt throughout. It seemed like it was just a little bit richer than the single wide, but it wasn’t much different.

So, all in all, we were a bit disappointed and we won’t be picking up another sampler pack from them anytime soon.

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One Response to “Boulevard’s a Bust”

  1. Brian February 21, 2012 at 6:47 PM #

    Really unfortunate to hear that they weren’t all that good. I saw a couple of offerings in the store here today…made me think of you guys. I think I bought Mike a Saison from them a few years ago…does he remember that? Maybe it sucked, too. Nice gift, huh?

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