This spring I wrote an article questioning whether or not it was time to retire the term “craft beer” (full article HERE). I ended up a little on the fence, not ready to call for the end of the term but committed to limiting my own use. In the last few months my opinion on this has gotten stronger, I am now fully in support of retiring the term craft beer. With the mergers and acquisitions of many notable breweries the Brewers Association definition of craft beer leaves way too many great breweries on the outside. Good beer is good beer, no matter who brews it or who owns the brewery. Right now Yuengling is considered craft while Firestone Walker and Boulevard are not, that statement alone should be enough to sway anyone who was on the fence about this issue. I’ve always enjoyed beers from Boulevard, and I see no difference in quality since they were purchased by Duvel (which isn’t surprising, it’s the same people brewing the beer in the same location). The brewers at Boulevard have continued to innovate, especially with their big-beer centric Smokestack series. One of the newest additions to the Smokestack series is The Calling, a double IPA brewed with 8 different types of hops. Boulevard The Calling is now available year-round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Boulevard The Calling pours a hazy light orange with a moderate white head. The scent is a solid hit of citrusy and piney hops. The hops lead the flavor, notes of grapefruit, resin, lemon and orange with a late bitter punch. This is balanced by a full malt backbone, touches of grainy bread and honey along with some boozy sweetness. The Calling is medium bodied and packs some punch at 8.5% ABV. The finish leaves some lingering bitterness and a little tingle of alcohol on the tongue. In all this is a very well crafted DIPA, plenty of hop flavor and more balance than some of the hops on top of hops DIPAs on the market. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Boulevard Reviews:
Boulevard Tank 7, Boulevard Dark Truth Stout
Each year new statistics are released that outline the rise in popularity and market share of craft beer. Many big brewers who initially dismissed craft beer as a “fad” are now taking notice as the growth of the craft beer industry cuts into their bottom line. This market shift has led to the implementation of a couple of strategies used by big beer to gain a toehold in the growing craft market. The majority of the big beer brewers now aggressively promote “crafty” beers, quaffable versions of the easier to drink and less intimidating craft styles. The other strategy has been to buyout popular craft breweries. This is a common practice in many industires, and it will be interesting to see its effect on craft beer. Many craft beer enthusiasts were distressed when the popular Boulevard Brewing Company was bought out by European powerhouse Duvel Moortgat. Boulevard insisted that the quality of their offerings wouldn’t waver, and the buyout would allow for increased distribution and expanded offerings of some previously hard-to-find beers. Other American breweries have undergone similar buyouts, including Ommegang (Duvel as well), Blue Point and Goose Island (both InBev). It will be interesting to see how this trend effects the quality of the product, and the bottom line for both the acquired craft brewer and the corporate conglomerate.
One of Boulevard Brewing’s signature beers is Tank 7, a year-round saison. Tank 7 is named after a difficult and notorious piece of equipment at Boulevard’s brewery, which happened to be the tank where the first batch of this saison was brewed. Brewed with pale barley malt, malted wheat and corn along with Magnum, Bravo and Amarillo hops, this is an aggressive version of a traditional farmhouse ale. Tank 7 is widely distributed on draft and in 12 oz and 750 mL bottles.
Boulevard Tank 7 pours a deep yellow, mostly clear with a huge white head. The smell is pretty mild, you get some fruity esters and spiciness from the Belgian yeast and a little citrus from the hops. The yeast gives a stronger impression in the flavor, significant notes of pepper and green apple. The hops also add substantial character, with touches of lemon, orange and flowers. The beer is rounded out by a solid malt backbone contributing hints of wheat bread and grain. Tank 7 is light and drinkable with a noticeable hop bite. It’s kind of shocking that it weighs in at 8.5% ABV, beers this easy to drink with that much alcohol can be slightly dangerous. Boulevard Tank 7 finishes dry with a little lingering bitterness on the tongue. I can see why this beer became one of Boulevard’s most popular offerings, it is a very well done version of a saison. Regardless of the current brewery ownership good beer is good beer, and I will keep drinking beers like this. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Boulevard Reviews:
Boulevard Dark Truth Stout
Boulevard Brewing’s website says that they are the second biggest brewery in Missouri, the largest makes a lot of beer that won’t be reviewed in this blog (unless I do it as a joke at some point). Unlike the bland mass produced lagers from St. Louis, Boulevard makes a wide range of flavorful craft beer, and have a large distribution, so you can find their saisons, IPA’s and collaborations throughout the US (check their website for availablity).
Dark Truth is Boulevard’s Imperial Stout, sold year-round in 4-packs. The “imperial” designation and 4-pack packaging should immediately tip you off that this isn’t a light beer. Tipping the scales at 9.7% ABV this stout is a slow sipper, perfect for the cold months that are rapidly approaching.
The beer pours pitch black with a solid brown head into a tulip glass. The first taste gives you chocolate and coffee notes from the dark malts used in the brew. The alcohol is there, not overwhelming like some imperial stouts, but noticeable. Overall the beer is pretty easy to drink considering it’s ABV, a perfect beer to sip on a cool fall/cold winter evening. Hoppy Boston Score: 4.75/5.