The 2010’s aren’t just the decade of new breweries—the US just topped the pre-Prohibition number of total breweries—but a period of sizable growth for most breweries that focus on carefully crafted beer. As the start-ups grow out of their three and seven-bbl tanks, the mid-sized and top 50 are all growing in unison. Boulevard Brewing Company, founded in 1989 in Kansas City and notably purchased by Duvel Moortgat last year, has announced plans to expand in early 2016. With six new 1,000-bbl fermentation tanks, the brewery is expanding in six new states (Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Arizona, Kentucky) while increasing their New York availability as well.
As Boulevard’s road stretches further across the country, here are five of their best beers.
Tank 7 (farmhouse ale)
Part of their Smokestack Series, this is a straw colored saison with a big 8.5% ABV that helps it reach across the seasons. Its clean citrus profile is dangerously refreshing for the summer and its playful yeast with a peppery bite makes it delicious with food. Meanwhile, it’s a dry saison that doesn’t overplay its hand, using the malt core to give structure without tasting candied.
Bully! Porter (robust porter)
This is Boulevard’s black and bitter, mild-bodied porter with a coffee bite but a mid-to-heavy carbonation. This is a really clean porter that avoids the watery complexion problem many porters face. It starts out bitter but segues into a mild chocolate finish with an undercurrent of dark fruit esters. It’s a great middle beer, satisfying in complexity while smooth enough to have a few in a row.
Unfiltered Wheat (American-style wheat beer)
Unfiltered Wheat is a light-bodied brew that’s easily accessible for craft newbies. There’s a subtle fruitiness within: some lemon, orange, and pear, with a heavy carbonation that makes this a solid lawn mowing or boat beer but still offers some depth of character. Its mild compared to a wheat beer like a hefeweizen, but offers some of those same wheaty hints in a tamer package.
Nutcracker Ale (winter warmer)
Boulevard seems to lean toward subtlety, and this winter warmer is no exception. It has a base of molasses driving the malt bill with some cleansing pine and sage to finish. Meanwhile, winter herbs and spices dance in the background but never steer the beer off course. Instead, Nutcracker is more malt and nuttiness than dark fruits and coriander, making it a dark beer without the often overdone spice rack wallop.
Pale Ale (American pale ale)
Pale Ale is another flagship and a key piece in the sampler pack. One of Boulevard’s strengths is their versatility. This is another mild ale. The citrus won’t blow anyone away, and it’s lacking in the pale’s trademarked hop bouquet. But there’s a fresh harvest season maltiness underscoring the citrus complexion with some clean pine as the closer. Balance is the name of the game.