Posts Tagged ‘Boulevard’

Why the nutcracker? I get the ballet thing and why it’s part of Christmas. I understand sugar plum fairies dancing in your head and dancing on stage, but why the nutcracker? Why do they sell through thousands of wide mouth, bearded, sometimes hand painted novelties? Do people actually use these to crack nuts or are they strictly decorative? I remember when I was a kid, I tried every year to cracked walnuts and almonds and whatever else comes in those variety packs without ever getting the tasty morsel within. Regardless of my relatively unhappy childhood experiences, I still appreciate a holiday beer during the Christmas season and I loved the idea of a Christmas themed Boulevard offering.

Nutcracker Ale pours a beautiful auburn/toffee color. I was able to get a fair amount of sticky head formed at the top of my glass which dissipated slowly and left a lacy mess on the sides of the glass. The nose of this beer reminds me strongly of a pale ale, but there is certainly some toasted notes and a bit of spice. Given this is holiday themed beer, this doesn’t surprise me. The taste matches the nose. I taste a bit of ginger alongside the toasted malt and a bit of nutmeg in the background. There is certainly a hoppy pale ale flavor going on too. I can feel my chest warming as I drunk my way towards the bottom of my glass.

I really like this beer and would gladly add this to my winter arsenal of favorites. There has been very little Boulevard beers that I haven’t liked and think this may be my favorite brewery. You can find this is the Boulevard variety pack or pick up a six pack for around $9. The 5.9% ABV is not too intense which I quite appreciated given the strong beers I’ve tasted in the past weeks. Nutcracker ale is something I would happily drink year round and recommend highly you get out and try some.

Grade: A-

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I love this bottle. What could be better than a bulldog in a tuxedo wearing a monocle toasting with a fine porter. Overall, I’m pretty disappointed with Boulevard’s packaging for the majority of their beers, but somebody in the marketing department was a thinker when they came up with this one.

Like a classic, this porter does not disappoint in revealing a thick sticky mass of tan head. An incorrect pour would have yielded a glass full, but unlike Guinness, this dissipated faster. The aroma was filled with sweet malts.  I detected also chocolate and roasted nuts, but the aroma was otherwise muted. My first taste reminded me of every other porter I’ve had in the past, but I appreciated the sweet caramel notes that played well with the malt. Bully has a decent mouth feel, not too heavy, not too thin, but it does go down silky smooth and leaves a wonderful aftertaste.

Bully! is a rock solid effort from a rock solid brewery. I would gladly begin to buy this by the case and fill my refrigerator with it.

Grade: B

There is just something about January that makes me sad. I know for some people the winter time brings about feelings of desolation, isolation, and a general sadness that just cannot be shaken off. My sadness is nothing like that. It’s more about the longing for the spring, for some warmth, to be rid of what seems like an eternal damnation…too dramatic. It’s my first winter in Chicago, and although I’ve been told this is an off year and that next year will be the big one, I can’t help but think that this is only Cubs fans telling me this (Ba-Zing!). Luckily, my workplace meets for happy hours for the explicit reason of forgetting these feelings and enjoying each others companies with libations to smooth over the rough spots. At one of these such events, I discovered Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

Farmhouse ale arrived in a globe glass with two fingers of head gracefully balancing on top. The color was a straw yellow perhaps meant entirely to be tongue in cheek given its name. The aroma immediately burst of something funky, almost sour, which immediately turned me off. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, but I swore that I was about to drink sour beer. I took another whiff and detected an element of sweetness and fruit lingering in the background. The sourness had disappeared mostly. My first sip was quite unusual. I was immediately hit with a hoppy IPA flavor (this not being an IPA makes this even more strange) that was immediately accompanied by bananas, bread, and a tartness like tangerines. For a medium bodied beer, this one felt heavy. I pictured this taste as a banana, a loaf of bread, and a tangerine riding together in a roller coaster car with only a lap bar keeping them from flying out, slamming into each other at every turn, and screaming their heads off during the big drops. Like a roller coaster, this was over quite quickly and I was left with just a haunting on my palette.

I did some research and found out that the sourness aroma in the beginning is commonly referred to as “Barnyard Funk” and derives from a particular yeast strain.  Regardless, I still liked this offering from Boulevard. It’s complicated without being too complicated and is incredibly refreshing. This reminded me of the summertime which lifted the winter fog for just the right amount of time. You can pick up a 750ml bottle of Farmhouse Ale for $9 or so, or you can make your cash stretch a little further and pick up a 4 pack for around $11. I like this beer quite a bit and wouldn’t hesitate to bring this as a dinner party offering or to enjoy on a beautiful day.

Grade: B+

In Han Christenson’s short story entitled “Ole the Tower Keeper,” Ole speaks to the narrator about the tradition of New Years Eve and the transition from the old year into the new. He relates a tale about people raising glasses when the clock strikes midnight to bring success into the new year. Each glass has a different meaning.

The first is the glass of good health. Drink this and you will be blessed with good health until the end of the year.

The second brings about a little bird who soars upward with its happy song that gives you both courage and cheer.

The third brings about a little winged urchin with goblin blood who has no intention of harming you. But he will happily play tricks on you. He’ll whisper happy things into your ear so as to keep you merry and warm and provide you wit at parties.

The fourth is the boundary line of sense. Beyond this lies only despair and misfortune.

The fifth will make you weep at yourself and you will forget your dignity (assuming you have any left).

Inside the sixth glass sits a demon:

“And the sixth glass! Yes, in that sits Satan himself, a little, well-dressed charming man who never contradicts you, tells you that you are always right. He comes with a lantern to guide you home! What sort of home, and what sorts of spirits live there? There’s an old legend about a saint who was ordered to choose one of the seven deadly sins, and chose what he thought was the least – drunkenness. But in it he committed all the other six. Man and the devil mixed with blood – that is the sixth glass; and all the evil seeds within us thrive on it, and each of them sprouts with a force like the grain of mustard, in the Bible, and grows into a mighty tree, spreading out over the whole world.”

Happy times.

I came across The Sixth Glass while in Kansas City looking for some local microbrews to take home and feature. I was first drawn to the demon face staring at me from the store shelves and then drawn even further when I read this was a quadruple ale. A quad? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Intrigued, I picked up a four pack.

The Sixth Glass pours a lovely honey amber color. A fair amount of head forms, but there is not enough carbonation for this to get out of control. The foam is dirty is color and dissipates quickly. There is an immediate burst of honey malt flavors that emerge from the glass followed by dried fruits like fig and cherries. My first taste hit me with banana like sweetness and this was overtaken by a wave of additional flavors such as malt and oak as if it were fermented in oak barrels. The aftertaste was a little medicinal like cough syrup, but I attribute this to the intense sweet brown sugar flavor that lingered on my palette. As I drank my way through the glass and the beer warmed, the mouth feel became heavier and the flavors developed more depth.

The Sixth Glass is a suburb beer – plain and simple. The 10% ABV will hit you over the head if you treat this as a guzzler, so I implore you to slow down and savor the flavor. You can find 4 packs of The Sixth Glass for around $10 or in 750ml bottles for $7. I would place this in my top 10 favorite beers of all time, but will still knock it down from A+ status due to the mild medicinal aftertaste. Still, I highly recommend The Sixth Glass as a must try the next time  you’re looking for something new.

So fair readers, the question remains. How many glasses do you enjoy on New Years Eve after the clock struck midnight?

Grade: A