MENUBACK

Back

Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday

Posted May 10, 2018

Category: WWKW

Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday

Each Wednesday, submit your burning Boulevard beer questions on Twitter, tagging @Boulevard_Beer and #WWKW. I'll sift through the questions and select my favorites to answer in a blog post that will be shared here each Thursday morning. Everything is fair game! Go!

- Jeremy Danner, Ambassador Brewer


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – May 9th, 2018

This is only fun if I take it seriously, right? Okay, deal.

For the Top Ramen, I’m going to make it more specific and assume that it’s the hot & spicy chicken flavor packet, one of my favorites, and I’m going to go with The Calling IPA. Hops and spicy foods are an obvious match, but I dig how fruity the hops are in the calling and that the higher ABV (8.5%) causes the beer to present with just a touch of sweetness. The hops and spicy flavors amplify each other, but the fruitiness of the hop flavor/aroma and the ABV sweetness also serve to tone the flames down just a touch. Plus, if you’re going to be eating Top Ramen (which I regularly do), it’s nice to have a bit of a buzz.

For the boiled hotdog on white bread (Your specificity on this one is a bit concerning.), I’m going with KC Pils. This seems like something I’d only eat in my backyard so I’m going with the absolutely perfect backyard Kansas City lager. White bread is a little sweet and there’s just a touch of malt sweetness in KC Pils that will match up with that while the subtle Saaz hopping provides punctuation to the sweetness. Since a boiled hotdog isn’t the most flavorful thing on the planet (AKA delicate), I don’t want to overwhelm it with a giant beer so I think KC Pils is a perfect choice. Plus, it’s in a can so I can set the hotdog down on top of the can in between bites/drinks.

I think that a fried bologna sandwich must be paired with our original beer, Pale Ale. I’m assuming there’s some tangy, spicy mustard on this sandwich so I love the idea of some caramel malt sweetness playing with the vinegar in the mustard and the citrus notes of Cascade hops keeping everything light and fruity. There’s going to be a touch of caramelization on the meat and I think that will sing right alongside the Cara 50 and Cara 120 in the malt bill of Pale Ale. Plus, a classic deserves a classic.

Finally, for the PB&J, Jam Band is the obvious choice here. A blend of raspberry, blueberry, cherry and tart cherry juices are right on with the jelly and the slightly tart blonde ale base beer will cut through the richness of the peanut butter. I want this right now, man.

This one’s easy. I’m going with the original Saison from when the Smokestack Series debuted back in late 2007. I’d say the beer was a bit before its time, but I love how delicate, floral and fruity it was. I’ll admit that I didn’t know a ton about the style back in 2007, but when I started brewing at BLVD in March of 2008, I was in full-blown love with this beer. I don’t remember exactly when in 2008 we stopped brewing Saison, but I’d definitely brewed it (and drank it) enough to be head over heels.

Right now, Single-Wide IPA, Tank 7 and The Calling are brewed at Duvel in Belgium for portions of the European market. No Boulevard beer sold in the US comes from Belgium and all other beers that are seen in export markets are produced in Kansas City at Boulevard Brewing Company. At this moment, there are no plans for any breweries in our family to brew Duvel, except for the Duvel brewery in Belgium, of course.

When it comes to selecting fruit for beers, we employ two primary methods: trial and error. Seriously. When it comes to adding fruit to hoppy beers, we have a pretty good idea of what will work and what won’t, but when we’re looking at fruiting sour beers or other styles, we honestly just play around with very small amounts of beer and fruit until we have something we dig. Once we have a good handle on the base beer and how much (and what kind) of fruit we’re going to incorporate, we’ll brew a test batch and see what folks around the brewery and guests in the Beer Hall think. We’re also always on the lookout for great ideas. If you have anything, tweet it our way!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - May 2nd, 2018

 

So, I wanted to give myself time to research this for an additional week and I’m glad I did because I found the best beer/baseball crossover name ever just now: Beer. Yep, Beer. Not much info is out there, but Beer played 10 games for the Lancaster Lanks back in 1901. Check out his Baseball Reference page.

I could go on, but I don’t think anything would be as good so I’ll drop the WWKW mic here.

Barring something super crazy, I think it’s going to be tough to match Beer Twitter’s outrage when it comes to glitter beer. Maybe if someone could come up with a way to make beer appear all crazy tie-dyed through adding drops of food color at pouring, they could dethrone glitter beer, but I don’t see that happening for a bit. I’ll openly admit that I’ve only had one glitter beer and that it didn’t do much for me, but I don’t necessarily understand the outrage. For me, it falls into the whole “drink what you like and let others do the same” category.

I really dig this question. First, I want to explain to everyone why most stores are organized by distributor and then brewery: It makes sense logistically for delivery folks, sales reps, brewery reps, etc. They know where their space in the store is so they know what they’re responsible for. It’s also waaay easier for delivery folks to drop off beer to just a couple spots in a store versus stocking shelves all over the place. Having said that, I think there are pros/cons to both.

If stores were organized by style, it would be easy to discover offerings from other breweries you may like based on current beers you already dig. Oh, you like RandomWordsHere IPA from Generic Brewing Company, check out its neighbor, Single-Wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing. It also makes it easier for someone who may not know much about beer to shop for someone who does. “Okay, Danner likes stouts. Let’s check out the stout section.” The downside for breweries is that their beers are split up throughout the store so you don’t see NewBeer Porter from Generic Brewing Company while you’re grabbing your favorite, OldStandby English Mild.

When stores are organized by brewery (as most are), it’s easier to find beers from your favorite breweries versus browsing shelves organized by style. You can go directly to Generic Brewing Company’s spot to see all the beers that store currently carries from them. The benefit for Generic Brewing Company is that all of their beers are together and it makes their presence look strong, especially if their packaging all carries similar (yet unique to each beer) branding to create what brewery folks refer to as a billboarding effect.

I see good in both approaches, but would love to hear from you. Hit me up with your thoughts/questions.

I’ve not and I think this is a cool topic. I exchanged a couple follow up tweets with Matt to make sure I understood the question and basically, we’re talking the motivation/rationale behind naming a pale ale “Pale Ale” or an imperial stout “Dark Truth.”

If you look back at BLVD historically, you’ll see that most of our names simply stated the style. This is true of a lot of breweries that started in the 80’s. Sierra Nevada is another example of a brewery that started out naming its core beers what they were: Pale Ale, Porter, Wheat, etc. I obviously wasn’t a craft beer consumer when Boulevard launched in ’89 (because I was 8), but I think it made a ton of sense to clearly communicate what your beer was in a time when folks had never heard of “craft beer” and beers like Pale Ale were considered “extreme beers.” Giving a beer a fanciful/brand name at the time would have created an additional layer of complexity to work through so I think it was wise to get to the point and the call the beer what it was.

Since we started that way, it allows us the ability to fall back on that from time to time. Recent examples include Tropical Pale Ale, American Kolsch and Ginger Lemon Radler. You could argue that “Tropical” and “American” are descriptive (and I’d agree), but when it comes to being able to trademark names like that, you just can’t as they’re too generic. This obviously doesn’t mean that they don’t say anything specific about the beer, though, especially in the case of Ginger Lemon Radler. If you already know what a Radler is, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting in a beer named Ginger Lemon Radler.

On the other hand, we do give beers fanciful/brand names and I’d venture to say that we’d prefer to do that in most cases. With craft beer far more widespread (yet still a 13% market share) than it was in the 80’s, there’s a ton of competition and shelves are becoming increasingly crowded. Anything a brewery can do to differentiate their beers, whether it’s by brand names or packaging design, is (in theory) a leg up on the competition. The challenge with this is that with so many breweries out there (with tons of clever folks working for them), coming up with an original name that isn’t already taken or trademarked is incredibly difficult. Whenever we sit down to name a beer, we always search Google and Untappd before getting too excited about a name. If those searches are clear, we’ll perform a public COLA registry search. Following that, our legal folks will perform trademark/registration searches to make sure a name is free before we commit to it and begin developing the look for the name. It’s crazy. It’s why we get super excited when names like Changeling, Requiem for a Pancake, Tough Kitty or Bundle Up are available.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – April 25th, 2018

First off, let me say that I look forward to the Parkville Microfest each year as it represents the kickoff of the festival season in Kansas City. The weather doesn’t always cooperate, but brewers and attendees are unphased by it and turn out in droves to taste beer and listen to music. I love it!

For Parkville, we always try to throw down a bit and bring some fancy beers alongside fan favorites and this year is no different. We’re pouring:

Bourbon Barrel Quad – draft
City Market Cider – draft
Foeder Project #2 – bottles
Ginger Lemon Radler – draft
Hibiscus Gose – draft
Jam Band – draft
One Love – Imperial Stout Aged in Jamaican Rum Barrels – bottles
Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye – draft
Unfiltered Wheat Beer – draft
¡Vamos! Mexican-Style Lager – draft

You’ll notice we’re pouring One Love and Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye from the Brewhouse One Series, something we haven’t done at a festival yet so I’m super excited to be able to share these beers with folks who weren’t able to make it by the Tours & Rec Center on release days. Since we’re pouring a total of ten beers, we didn’t bring more than a 1/6 bbl (or equivalent) of any one beer so if there’s something you absolutely must try, I’d suggest stopping by table 11 early in the fest. I’ll be there!

At the risk of giving super generic advice here, honestly, the best way to learn about the technical aspects of tasting beer is to drink everything. Seriously. Try every beer you can get your hands on to figure out which styles you dig and which you don’t.

From there, I’d suggest grabbing a couple of classic books: Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher and How to Brew by John Jay Palmer. The latter is a homebrewing book, but it does a great job of exploring the science/chemistry behind brewing in a very easy to understand way. With Tasting Beer you’ll figure out what you’re tasting and with How to Brew you’ll get the why of it all.

If you’re really looking to dork out, I’d suggest checking out some of the off-flavor training kits and courses that folks are offering these days. I’ll warn you that beginning to study off-flavors results in pulling the curtain back a bit so there will definitely be some beers you currently love that will be absolutely ruined by sensory training.

Also, join a homebrewing club (even if you don’t plan to homebrew) to taste beers from brewers of varying skill levels. Novice brewers will often bring problematic beer to meetings to get advice from more experienced brewers and tasting real off-flavors (not from kits) in a variety of styles will help you greatly.

My final piece of advice would be to never stop having fun with it. As someone who’s been through sensory training, there are times that I have to just shut it off and drink (maybe not enjoy) a not so great beer. Even after ten years at BLVD, I continue to learn new things, but I never want to lose my ability to just shut up and drink a beer.

You’re right, Matt. I toe the “never say never” line pretty hard most of the time, but with Allegro Non Troppo (or other Brewhouse One Series beers for that matter), I don’t think any will graduate into regular/full-time releases given the nature of the series itself. It’s not that we’re intentionally producing super small batches for these releases. The size of the batch is dictated by raw materials, barrel space, aging time and other logistical constraints. For Allegro Non Troppo, we aged the beer on 2,000 pounds of freshly crushed Tempranillo grapes for five months at the end of the process. I just don’t see us being able to source those grapes on the regular to have this beer move beyond a one-off, limited release.

So I’m not all bad news, I will say that there are several sour projects in the works right now that are going to be fantastic. I try to stay up to date on what our barrel crew is working on and taste barrels when I can and I’ve had some really great samples lately. Stay tuned!

While we don’t share the exact source of our house Belgian yeast strain, I can tell you that when I offer advice to homebrewers looking to clone The Sixth Glass, I steer them towards Wyeast 3787, their high gravity Trappist strain. This is the same yeast that we use to ferment Tank 7 as well. Since I can’t share too much info on that, here’s a clone recipe of The Sixth Glass:

Malt
Pale Malt – 83.9%
Cara 300 – 6.3%
Munich Malt – 5.5%
Malted Wheat – 4.4%

Mash Schedule
64 C – 50 minutes
68 C – 20 minutes
73 C – 15 minutes
Mash off at 78 C

Hops
Magnum 12.9 IBU at 15 minutes after beginning of boil
Styrian Golding 9 IBU at 15 minutes after beginning of boil
Styrian Golding 4.8 IBU at 55 minutes after beginning of boil

We target a beginning of boil gravity of 15.9 and add the following sugars:
Dextrose for 1.2 degree increase in degrees Plato
Brown Sugar for .9 degrees Plato
Dark Brown Sugar for .5 degrees Plato
Dark Candi Syrup for 1.7 degrees Plato

We shoot for 20.8 degrees Plato at the end of the boil and cool the wort to 19C and pitch with our house Belgian yeast strain. We ferment at 19C until we reach 7 degrees Plato at which point we temp up to 25 for the remainder of fermentation. Final gravity is 2.6.

Specs
ABV - 10.2
IBU - 22
EBC - 73.2

I hesitate to mention a specific amount of Saison Brett that we produce each year as it varies. We’re a little unique in that we brew to order based on amounts of a given beer requested by our distributors. For that reason, the amount we brew of certain seasonals can swing a bit year to year, but Saison Brett is definitely one of our smaller runs.

To the second part of your question, no. We have an opportunity to buy beers like Saison Brett, Love Child blends or Rye on Rye on Rye at the same time you do. We typically tap kegs in the Beer Hall and have bottles in our Tours & Rec Gift Shop on the same day the beer releases to the public in Kansas City. It’s worth noting that folks on our tasting panel definitely try beers before they’re released so yeah, we taste the beer before the public does, but we don’t hold an employee pre-sale before Saison Brett drops.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - April 18th, 2018

Yes and no. For the most part, the Beer Hall and Tasting Room serve as our first testing grounds for new beers that are in development. If beers sell well and we receive positive feedback, there’s a good chance they’ll be successful as real releases. Having said that, we also take advantage of the opportunity to brew small batches of styles we’re excited about or explore using new ingredients and techniques. Recent beers that fall into that second category would be TEST – Chocolate Cookie Stout and Barrel-Aged Messenger Spiced Mocha Stout. Here’s the deal, though. At the end of the day, we never say never so I can’t say for certain that beers originally brewed as one-offs will never return.

I can’t speak for what folks at other breweries do, but I definitely view Untappd as a valuable resource for learning how our beers are perceived. The thing that I dig about Untappd is that while there are definitely users who would self-identify as “beer dorks” (a term I use lovingly as I consider myself one), there are also tons of regular people who use Untappd to keep track of beers they like/don’t like. I think having that perspective is super cool.

I have no idea on the second part of the question, but I can tell you that we see over 24,000 check-ins per month and have over 3 million check-ins overall.

Prior to the completion of our canning hall in Kansas City, we were working with a couple of trusted partner breweries (Firestone Walker, Summit, Third Street Brewhouse) to produce/package our canned beers, but I’m very excited to share that, as of this morning, our Kansas City canning hall is 100% complete and all future canned beers will come from Boulevard Brewing Company!

Check out the Kansas City Business Journal article here!

We employ dextrose in a couple different applications. The most common use is as a priming sugar for our bottle conditioned beers. The dextrose is mixed with warm, UV sterilized water and dosed into the beer during filtration. The bottle conditioning yeast is blended in as the beer flows from the bright tank to the bottling line.

In terms of carbonation, nearly 100% of the CO2 in solution in our 750ml bottles is derived from this secondary, bottle conditioning fermentation.

The other use for dextrose in our brewery is primarily in our Belgian-style and a couple of our higher ABV beers. Since dextrose is 100% fermentable, adding it to boiling wort on the brewhouse allows us to boost the starting gravity (resulting in boosting the ABV) without adding body to the beer. This is a fairly traditional practice for most Belgian styles like tripels and quads.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - April 11th, 2018

It is. A couple years back when we expanded in our original cellar, we pulled out six 105 bbl fermentation tanks and dropped in eight 300 bbl tanks designed to hold our dry-hopped beers. One of those 105 bbl tanks was the original FV 7 that held the first batch of Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. I threw out the idea of cutting the top of the tank off, burying it in the ground and turning it into a giant stainless steel pool. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen and we sold the tank to our friends at Rahr & Sons in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve been told that they point it out on brewery tours so the legend of FV 7 lives on!

This is a great question. I find the concept of (and what folks view as) gateway beers fascinating. For BLVD, we typically tell folks that Unfiltered Wheat Beer, American Kolsch and KC Pils are great entry points for new craft beer drinkers, but that doesn’t mean that someone who exclusively drinks whiskey or cocktails wouldn’t be able to jump right into enjoying massive beers like Rye on Rye on Rye, Bourbon Barrel Quad or Whiskey Barrel Stout.

As far as a style that I think is underrepresented, I'll go with American Brown Ales. To me, drinking a really great brown ale is like opening up a fresh bag of chocolate malt. I dig the bittersweet chocolate notes and subtle sweetness that are usually balanced by just a tough of earthy/herbal hops. I love it!

Alright, you’ve played to my love of baseball and beer so I’m definitely going all out on this one, man.

1 – Unfiltered Wheat Beer

It’s the BLVD beer that everyone drinks when they first cross over to craft beer. It’s been around for a LONG time, but still manages to get the job done when it’s called upon. As our top selling beer, Wheat Beer gets my nod for the leadoff spot.

2- Pale Ale

Pale Ale is the first beer John McDonald brewed and continues to be a brewery favorite. While it was recently passed in sales by Tank 7, Pale Ale remains our #3 beer, but given that it’s my daily go to, I’m counting on Pale Ale to get on base or at least move Unfiltered Wheat Beer over with a solid sacrifice.

3 – Tank 7

Tank 7 is a heavy hitter, but still has some speed given that it’s amazingly drinkable for an 8.5% ABV beer. I trust that Tank 7 could bring everyone home, but it’s still light enough on its feet that I view it as a threat on the base paths.

4 – Bourbon Barrel Quad

Having recently gone year-round, Bourbon Barrel Quad is getting tons of at bats and its 11.2% ABV is definitely capable of clearing the bases so to speak. While BBQ is definitely boozy and rich, the high carbonation keeps the beer nimble and balanced. You don’t often ask your #4 hitter to bunt, but Bourbon Barrel Quad is well rounded and a total team player.

5 – Whiskey Barrel Stout

If you’re looking for an incarnation of the Bash Brothers (I’m a diehard Royals fan, but LOVED Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco when they were A’s.), Bourbon Barrel Quad and Whiskey Barrel Stout have you covered. Also a year-round beer, Whiskey Barrel Stout is always sharp and ready to go. With one third of the final blend being composed of fresh beer, the whiskey barrel character is tempered just enough that you’re aware that you’re drinking beer making WBC capable of going from straight pull to the opposite field and everywhere in between.

6 – Saison Brett

I believe that Saison Brett is the best beer we brew, but given that it takes a little time in our warehouse to develop the brett character, it’s not always ready to head to the plate at the beginning of the game. Saison Brett benefits from standing on the top stair of the dugout, watching a few pitches and getting right before stepping up. Give Saison Brett time to develop and you’ll be greatly rewarded.

7 – KC Pils

You’re always looking for a little pop in the bottom of your lineup to keep the pitcher guessing and KC Pils has seen some pretty amazing sales growth over the past year. It’s not massive and ripped like Tank 7, but the amazingly balanced KC Pils can do it all in nearly every situation.

8 – American Kolsch

American Kolsch and KC Pils often swap places in the lineup depending on who you’re facing and what the conditions are like. Equally reliable and every bit as appealing, American Kolsch and KC Pils also make amazing partners in the middle infield. They’re so good together that you forget they’re individuals as you watch them function as a unit on the field.

9 – The Calling

Catching and hitting ninth is The Calling IPA. Deceptively drinkable for a beer that’s 8.5% ABV and 75 IBUs, this beer is a far cry from an easy out. Providing a bit of power in the bottom of the order, The Calling serves as the inspirational leader in the clubhouse and a super sold backstop in the field. And just like our catcher, it smells so damned good.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - April 4th, 2018

Apart from Whiskey Barrel Stout going year-round and Manhattan Cask Imperial Stout dropping as a limited release Smokestack Series beer earlier this year, we don’t have any other stout releases on our 2018 calendar, but we are tapping a test batch of Chocolate Cookie Stout very soon in our Tours & Rec Center Beer Hall. Brewed with Oreo wafers, cacao nibs, brown sugar and vanilla, this beer is super tasty! Keep an eye on our Beer Hall draft lineup to see when it goes on.

In all fairness, I’ve never been at a brewery during the startup phase, so this is purely conjecture, but I’d say that your first investment should be in great people who truly care about the beer they’re making. You can fill your brewery with the finest, fanciest equipment, but if you don’t have awesome people who are wholly dedicated to brewing, packaging, marketing, serving and selling the best beer possible, it’s all for naught. I don’t recall who said it or how exactly they put it, but in discussing quality assurance/quality control someone once said something along the lines of, “If you hire great people who assure quality every day, you don’t have to worry as much about controlling quality.”

Folks are going to cry, “HOMER!” when they read this, but honestly, it was Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer. It definitely wasn’t the only beer I drank when I first started exploring craft, but it’s the one I drank the most. I was working at Zio’s Italian Kitchen when I turned 21 and we had Unfiltered Wheat Beer on one of our four taps and all the bartenders dug it so it’s what I drank. I certainly drank my fair share of a wide variety of craft beers, but I always came back to Unfiltered Wheat Beer. I thought the addition of the lemon was cool too! I have a case of Wheat in my fridge at home right now.

I dig the timing of this question as I celebrated my ten year anniversary at Boulevard over the weekend. My official start date as a full-time Boulevardian was on March 31st, 2008, but I worked part-time on the Smokestack Series bottling line starting back on January 18, 2008. That was my first job at BLVD. I was the cork guy. I would spend around six hours during each Smokestack 750ml run stuffing corks into a PVC tube to shoot them over to the corker using compressed air. Back in those days, the corks had to be oriented a certain way so it could be a little stressful at times. Send a cork through the wrong way and it’s going to mess up a bottle and slow the line down. This mistake also came with a healthy dose of peer shaming.

Starting on March 31st, I worked on the brewhouse full-time brewing wort. I did that for five years until the beginning of 2013 when I crossed over to the marketing department. During my time on the brewhouse, I became the guy that would attend a lot of local tastings, beer dinners and festivals. I LOVED it and soon it became a big part of my schedule, so much so that it made sense to pull me off the brewhouse and into a role that allowed me the schedule freedom to do a little more traveling to represent the brewery. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll refer to this as my third job with Boulevard.

Near the beginning of 2014, I picked up social media duties for the brewery and was responsible for creating content for our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. I LOVED this, but given my travel schedule and other responsibilities, it wasn’t always easy to stay 100% on top of things so in late June of 2017, Pat Mullin assumed the role of Digital Marketing Manager and I began what could be considered by fifth or fourth and a half (is that a thing?) role at the brewery. I maintained everything I was doing apart from the social media piece, but suddenly I had more time to focus on writing blog posts to introduce new beers or discuss topics I find interesting and wanted to share with a larger audience in the Brewer’s Blog section of our website.

Currently, I continue to travel to represent the brewery at events and new market launches. I write a TON (including this series of blog posts that I absolutely love!) and also involve myself in branding/naming discussions, the onboarding/training of new sales hires and a role that involves some internal education on our beers, the brewing process and the industry as a whole.

I’m stupid lucky and would have to say that my current role is my favorite so far, but since I plan to work at BLVD until I retire, I'm excited to see what my 8th, 9th or 10th jobs here might look like.

When you smell/taste a spicy/clove character in a beer (to which cloves have not been added), you’re experiencing a compound called 4-vinyl guaiacol, commonly referred to as 4-VG. Technically speaking, it’s a phenolic compound that is produced by most yeasts during fermentation, but is typically below threshold level so you might not detect it. Some Belgian strains create more than others and it’s definitely a prominent characteristic in German-style hefeweizens alongside isoamyl acetate which provides aromas of bananas.

I could dork out and go on and on here, but this article from Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine, does a great job of summarizing all things 4-VG.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love Saison Brett and feel that it’s one of our best beers so you know I’m going to answer any question about it. While I’d love to be able to drink Saison Brett year-round (without stocking up each time it’s released which is what I currently do), the challenges of making the beer all the time are big ones. Since we inoculate Saison Brett with brettanomyces at packaging, we effectively “infect” the bright tank and bottling line we’re using with a wild yeast strain. For this reason, we typically package Love Child blends and Saison Brett around the same time so that our Smokestack Series bottling crew only has to tear the bottling line apart once per year to perform a super deep cleaning/sanitation regiment to eliminate any brettanomyces from the equipment. It’s crazy, but just a few cells of brettanomyces left in the equipment could wreak havoc on future bottling runs of “clean beer” so our crew really gets after it with the cleaning and then our lab folks test samples of rinse water to ensure that absolutely zero brett is still hanging out. This is probably more than what you were looking for, but since I’d love to have the opportunity to drink Saison Brett year-round as well, I wanted to go into as much detail as possible. Definitely hit me up with any follow-up questions.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - March 21st & 28th, 2018

Well, we're a day late, but with today being an off day we can talk about beer plans for tomorrow night. I thought about simply answering this question, “Yes!” but I feel like I’m leaning towards suggesting going with ¡Vamos! Mexican-Style Lager while it’s still around. KC Pils (which I LOVE) is a year-round beer and can be your go to all season, but what’s out there for ¡Vamos! is it. When it’s gone it’s gone!

Learn more about ¡Vamos! Mexican-Style Lager here.

Oh, man. What does innovation not mean these days? It’s incredibly important to play, experiment and innovate continuously. If you don’t focus on brewing new beers using new techniques and raw materials, you can be left behind super quickly. It’s an exciting time in beer right now, but also a challenging one as beer drinkers are all about what’s new.

At Boulevard, we’re fortunate to still have our original 35 bbl brewhouse that Founder John McDonald purchased when he started the brewery back in 1989. We’ve obviously made several upgrades to the system over the years, but we still use it today to brew test beers, yeast propagation batches or festival/special one-offs. While 35 bbls seems like a lot of beer (and it sort of is), brewing a test batch that size allows us to pour the beer in our Tours & Rec Center Tasting Room and Beer Hall to get immediate feedback from guests. We also have the chance to take test kegs to local festivals so we can get a wide variety of feedback. This interaction is super valuable and allows us to make informed innovation decisions.

The process we use is pretty straightforward. If someone has a good idea for a beer, we’ll try it out. Beer ideas don’t need to come just from the brewing team. Everyone is welcome to pitch ideas. Once a direction is chosen, our brewers will noodle with the recipe and brew a test batch on our original brewhouse. If it passes all internal testing (including a tasting by our expert sensory panel), it goes on tap in the Tours & Rec Center and we pay close attention to sales and the feedback we receive. Beers that do well might be tweaked for a future “real” release or sometimes we nail it and no changes are made. Voila!

Folks ask this a lot and I feel like everyone is expecting a serious answer along the lines of, “We conduct research about potential partner breweries and do our best to make the most strategic choice and blah blah….”, but really, we make beer with people we like. For our most recent Collaboration with Arizona Wilderness and Creature Comforts, I shared this on our Brewer’s Blog:

Our friendship with Arizona Wilderness can be traced back to the second year of Boulevardia’s Taps & Tastes Experience. Given the complex nature of hosting breweries that don’t currently distribute to the state of Missouri, they were unable to pour their beer during the fest, but still attended as our guests to enjoy the weekend. The Arizona Wilderness boys (a way in which they often refer to themselves) became particularly smitten with Steven Pauwels (and who came blame them, really?) during the weekend and it’s safe to say the feeling was mutual. The following year, they were able to pour beer during the festival and impressed attendees (and brewery folks) with their inspired beers that pushed brewing boundaries while celebrating ingredients indigenous to Arizona.

We first met the Creature Comforts crew during a game of bocce ball played in Paso Robles during the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. Just the right amount of beer (and rosé) had been consumed that we decided to have a friendly wager on the match, our breweries. Fortunately for us, Team Boulevard was victorious and we didn’t have to turn the keys to our brewery over to our new friends from Georgia. In a moment of pure generosity later in the evening, Steven gave them their brewery back. Having become insta-friends, we spent a lot of time chatting, swimming, eating and of course drinking beers with the Creature Comforts folks during the weekend. Known for brewing an impressive range of styles with great technical accuracy, Creature Comforts is best known for their incredibly balanced yet juicy IPA, Tropicalia.

Our brewhouses, fermentation vessels, bright tanks, pipes and packaging lines are all sanitized using a method called CIP or clean-in-place. This means that everything is cleaned and sanitized without being disassembled, either through the use of spray balls in the tanks or circulating cleaning/sanitizing solutions through the pathways. For the most part, we use peracetic acid for sanitizing.

Yes, we definitely use designated tanks and equipment for handling our beers that are inoculated with lactobacillus and brettanomyces. It’s not that we’re necessarily afraid of those microbes, but we operate with a healthy level of respect for them. While we love the crisp acidity of Love Child No. 8 or the earthy funk of Saison Brett, we don’t want those characters to manifest in a batch of Pale Ale or Unfiltered Wheat Beer. All of our tanks that hold sour beer are at an offsite facility just a few blocks down Southwest Boulevard and our sour barrels are stored separately from our clean barrels. We also don’t ever run any beer with active lactic acid producing bacteria or brettanomyces through our main bottling line.

I’m sorry, it won’t, but I can tell you that Hibiscus Gose returns next week (in cans!), you’ll see new blends of Changeling and Love Child this year AND I’ve recently tasted some truly amazing sour projects that our barrel crew is working on. The most recent small batch sour, TEST – Golden Sour Ale with Peaches is no longer on in the Beer Hall, but you’ll see other small batch, fruited sours rotating through in the coming months. I’m excited!

If you’re looking to get into our offerings with a smooth transition from PBR, I’d suggest starting with KC Pils and American Kolsch. When I introduce these beers at dinners or tastings, I always finish my descriptions noting that they’re super drinkable “beer flavored beers.” For folks who haven’t tried many craft beers, I find that beers that are a little more crisp and refreshing seem the most familiar while still introducing a little more flavor and body.

Drop by the Beer Hall, man. I’ll taste some beers with you.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – March 14th, 2018

Man, that was a great beer. Unfortunately, all that we produced was racked into kegs and poured in the Tours & Rec Center Beer Hall. While I’m not aware of any definite plans, I feel safe making a guess that it (or a very similar beer) will make a return at some point. You and I aren’t the only ones who absolutely loved Barrel-Aged Messenger Spiced Mocha Stout.

While we’re certainly aware of the haze craze, we don’t currently have plans to brew/release a New England IPA just yet. We have played around with a few variations on an Unfiltered IPA that sees massive dry-hopping additions and less filtration than usual, but we haven’t quite jumped to the super juicy side of things. While I could ramble on about the challenges a regional brewery faces regarding this style, I feel like the folks at Avery Brewing did a great job of explaining the challenges a regional/national brewery faces with the style. Check it out. Definitely let me know if you have any questions.I will say that now that our Kansas City canning hall is up and running, we’ll have a little more flexibility when it comes to packaging different styles and new beers.

In a festival setting, I definitely suggest drinking water between pours to not only cleanse the palate, but to keep hydrated. This may ick some people out, but I usually drink my rinse water between pours at beer festivals. I don’t always have a water bottle on me and rinse water is a helpful reminder to keep drinking water during a fest.

Beyond that, sensory experts suggest snacking on unsalted crackers or oyster crackers between tastes. Anything you can do to prevent palate fatigue while not introducing strong flavors that will prevent you from being able to taste the beer is great.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – March 7th, 2018

Yes. Absolutely. Dolly Parton is a national treasure. Next question.

This question is, no doubt, spurred by the upcoming release of Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye, our next Brewhouse One Series beer. Before I break down the individual beers, I’ll toss out a reminder that Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye becomes available exclusively in the Boulevard Tours & Rec Center on Monday, March 12th and 10am. For beer details and info on the bottle release, head to my Brewer’s Blog post that introduces the beer.

For the beers themselves, I’ll provide some condensed details, but each beer name will link to a corresponding blog post from the Brewer’s Blog.

Rye on Rye
Rye on Rye, first brewed back in 2010, is our original Templeton Rye barrel-aged beer. A rather sturdy beer composed of our two-row base malt layered with German rye, English crystal rye, Cara 50 and Munich malt and then accented with brown sugar, dark brown sugar and dark candi syrup, the base beer for Rye on Rye is hopped with Magnum, Citra and Styrian Golding hops. Following primary fermentation with Scottish ale yeast, Rye on Rye is transferred to freshly emptied Templeton Rye barrels. Following aging, optimal barrels are selected and blended with 33% fresh beer to create a delicate balance between spicy, slightly boozy rye whiskey barrel characters and the base beer. The most recent release of Rye on Rye is composed of beers that range in age from six to 18 months.
12% ABV, 33 IBUs

Rye on Rye on Rye
Inspired by the success of our "X" series of special Imperial Stout releases, we embarked on a journey to the outer reaches of our popular Rye on Rye. For this release, a rich, tawny rye ale is aged in first-use rye whiskey barrels then transferred to yet another set of first-use rye whiskey barrels for a second aging, effectively resulting in "Rye on Rye on Rye." Rye on Rye on Rye is 100% barrel-aged.
14.6% ABV, 33 IBUs

Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye
Pouring deep garnet in color, Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye pops with aromas of spicy, fruity rye malt and massive notes of rye whiskey, vanilla, toffee and charred oak. Certainly warming at 15.5% ABV, Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye is of medium body offering chewy caramel/toffee malt character balanced by earthy, herbal, citrusy Styrian Golding and Citra hops that give way to sweet, spicy rye whiskey character in a slow sipper that blurs the line between beer and whiskey.

Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye was created using the following aging regiment:
First Aging – 10 Year Canadian Rye Whiskey barrels – 1 year
Second Aging – Templeton Rye barrels – 6 months
Third Aging – Woodford Rye barrels – 6 months

Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye is 100% barrel-aged.
15.5% ABV, 21 IBUs

Questions? Let me know!

Following the discussion of Rye on Rye and Rye on Rye on Rye and Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye, this seems like a fitting time to mention that my non-beer go-to beverage is whiskey. I obviously drink mostly beer at home, but when I want something not beer, I typically make an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. I’ll drink a little bit of wine here and there, but it makes me feel waaaay different than beer does so I don’t reach for it as often.

Oh, man. I wish it was as simple as just deciding to work at Boulevard and then making that happen. I fell in love with craft beer and the idea of it right around my 21st birthday. I had a buddy who was a brewer in a local pub and he invited me down for lunch and beers on my 21st. As I was walking into the pub, I noticed him climbing out of one of the brewhouse vessels after cleaning up and that’s when it hit me, “Whoa! People make beer!” Up to that moment, I hadn't given much thought to the idea of actual people making beer. I just thought that it came from giant factories. That’s when my obsession began.

I spent the next few years bouncing around from beer bar to beer bar attempting to learn as much as I could before I landed a gig serving/bartending at 75th Street Brewery in Waldo in November of 2005. I worked my way into the brewhouse by June before going into management because I thought I might want to open my own brewery at some point down the road. I quickly learned that I wasn’t “management material” so I moved on from that around a year later and snagged a job as the brewer’s assistant at the Power Plant Brewery & Restaurant in Parkville, Missouri.

While working at Power Plant, I was bartending at a sports bar in town and working part-time on the Smokestack Series bottling line for Boulevard. From January to March, I spent as much time as I could working for Boulevard attempting to learn as much as I could hoping to work myself into a full-time spot. As “luck” would have it, I was fired from my bartending job on St. Patrick’s Day so I called Boulevard Brewmaster Steven Pauwels to see if there were any full-time openings I could check out. I interviewed for a bottling line job, accepted that and proceeded to celebrate. Well, the very next day (Tuesday, March 26th at 6:25pm), Steven called me to say that while he’d offered me the bottling line job, a brewer had just given notice and he’d like to give me that job instead. BAM! I was over the moon. I called my fiancé immediately and we lost our minds. I’d gotten a job brewing at BLVD!

Over the next few years while working on the brewhouse, I started attending a TON of public facing events to represent the brewery to beer drinkers, so much so that in 2013, I was offered the chance to cross over to the marketing team to create the role that I occupy today.

As I approach my ten year anniversary, coming up on March 31st, I’m exceedingly grateful that BLVD  took a chance on a goofy looking, long haired dude back in 2008 and that I’ve been super fortunate to work for great folks along the way. As Boulevardians, we’re also very lucky to have the amazing support we’ve had from Kansas City and the Midwest over the past 29 years.

In the first house that my wife and I owned, I would definitely do the shower beer here and there, but in our current home, I have dominion over a bathroom that just has a small shower so I don’t feel that I’m talented enough to drink beer and keep soap/shampoo out of my beer at the same time. But back in the early days, I would usually reach for something crisp and refreshing like KC Pils or Ginger Lemon Radler. I’d always opt to drink straight from the bottle/can due to the aforementioned lack of talent. If I were a little bit shorter, I could probably go for a bath beer, but I haven’t fit comfortably in a tub in years. Everyone reading will have to have a bathing beer for me next time!

Definitely. Now that we have the Beer Hall in the Tours & Rec Center, more test beers are available to the general public than ever before, but there are still batches that don’t make it to the Tasting Room or Beer Hall or don’t really have any trajectory for life beyond being a test beer.

It’s pretty rare that a beer turns out completely different than what the brewing team was shooting for, but it definitely happens. We obviously don’t love dumping beer, but when it’s not up to our high standards, it’s the right thing to do.

When developing beers that are likely to make our seasonal or limited release lineups, we’ve typically done enough research and tasting that we feel the style/direction has a future so it’s not often that those test brews result in a beer that’s wildly different than what we expected.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – February 28th, 2018

First off, I’m excited you’re coming to Boulevardia this year. It’s going to be SO much fun! As a bit of a Royals fan (understatement is fun), I don’t feel like there are any bad seats at the K, but I definitely have spots I prefer over others. First off, Craft & Draft is baseball/beer/food heaven! It’s where you’ll find the biggest selection of BLVD beers on draft and in bottles and cans as well as craft beers from local players and regional/national breweries.

If you want to take a stroll through the outfield experience, swing by the Radler Station and Hop Stop and you’re not too far from Kansas City BBQ and super fancy hotdogs. I have to say, though, my favorite spot to grab a beer is at the Boulevard Pub just to the first base side of the Diamond Club. They typically have at least six BLVD beers on tap and there’s a ton of food (including more fancy hotdogs) just a few steps away. It’s also in close proximity to great seats and the escalators to get to seats in the upper level.

No matter what type of experience you’re looking for, you’re never going to be too far away from your next Boulevard beer. Okay, now I’m ready. Is it March 29th yet?

I miss Collaboration No. 3 – Stingo as well! Brewing that beer and getting to know Dann and Martha from Pretty Things was an amazing time. While I doubt the beer will return, I recently had a buddy ask for a homebrewer friendly version of the recipe. Here’s what I shared:

Malt
Maris Otter – 35.6%
Fawcett Halcyon – 20.7%
Fawcett Pearl – 20.7%
Pale malt – 3%
Fawcett Amber – 7.3%
Fawcett Crystal II – 10.4%

Mash Schedule
Mash in at 64 C
64 C – 25 minutes
73 C – 20 minutes
Mash off at 75 C

We target a beginning of boil gravity of 15.8 Plato and boil for 70 minutes targeting 18 at the end of the boil. 1.7 Plato comes from an addition of brown sugar midway through the boil.

Hops
East Kent Golding – 5.9 IBUs at 98 C
East Kent Golding – 25.7 IBUs at 15 minutes after the beginning of the boil
Fuggle – 2.4 IBUs at knockout

We cool the wort to 19 C and pitch with Wyeast 1469 – Yorkshire Ale Yeast. We ferment at 18 C until we reach 7 Plato at which point we temp up to 21 for the remainder of fermentation. Final gravity is 3.2.

Specs
ABV – 8.5
IBU – 35

Okay, so there’s all of the above, but where it gets tricky is that we brewhouse soured 15% of the total volume we packaged to give the beer a tartness/acidity that would have been present in the style historically. Additionally, 42% of the blend was aged on medium toast oak chips.

From where I’m sitting (just a floor above the BLVD Tours & Rec Center Beer Hall), I view blending’s contribution to creating consistent beer as an absolute blessing. For bottling or keg runs of most of our beers, multiple tanks are blended to create the final batch. While we’ve definitely nailed our year-round and seasonal beers over the course of the past 28+ years, there are still going to be subtle variations batch to batch coming off the brewhouse. The luxury of blending allows us to release a batch of Unfiltered Wheat Beer or Pale Ale that tastes just like the last bottle you pulled from the fridge. When you reach for a Boulevard Pale Ale, you expect (and deserve) to drink a beer that tastes like the previous Pale Ale you enjoyed.

I have! I was lucky enough to be invited over in June of 2014, just a few months after Boulevard officially joined the Duvel Moortgat family. I’d never been to Europe before and the trip was absolutely amazing! We spent our days touring the breweries in our little craft beer family and sitting in on marketing presentations and other meetings to get a feel for our new beer brothers and sisters, each brewery’s individual identity and the beers themselves. While there, we visited Duvel, Brasserie d’Achouffe, Liefmans and De Koninck. In the evening, we spent time exploring the surrounding cities with colleagues to get a feel for Belgian beer and food culture. I won’t lie. Following the evening activities, I also checked out the late night life. I’m a real bang for my buck kinda guy and wanted to take it all in. I consider myself very fortunate to have been invited over and it was a great experience that made me feel even better than I already did about Boulevard teaming up with Duvel. We have some great people in Belgium who are absolutely crushing it when it comes to brewing, packaging, marketing and selling world class beer.

These are similar questions so I’ll answer them together. First off, congrats to you both on making great choices. Boulevardia is going to be a ton of fun this summer and I’m really excited to host Taps & Tastes inside Hale Area this year!

Because I travel to so many beer festivals around the country each year, I’m often asked for advice on how to maximize your time so I feel like I could go on and on and on with this, but I’ll keep it simple and focus on a few key points.

1 – Drink water. Seriously. Water is your friend. In addition to cleansing your palate (and rinsing your glass) between tastes, water will keep you hydrated. I can’t stress the importance of this when you’re in a kid in the candy store type situation at a beer fest with tons of fancy beer. We allow folks to bring in empty water bottles/pouches to fill within Boulevardia and Taps & Tastes. Definitely do that. Also, I drink my rinse water that I use to refresh my glass. Each time there’s water in your glass, drink it.

2 – Know and accept that you’re not going to get to try every beer on the list. It’s borderline impossible and just a bad idea. With 60 breweries pouring two to four beers each in 2oz samples, it’s not realistic to plan to drink 22.5 pints of beer over the course of a few hours. Just don’t do it. Apart from the sheer volume to stomach real estate and personal responsibility aspects of it, some beers will be in high demand and won’t make it through the entire festival. We do ask breweries to bring a minimum amount of each beer, but just know that some beers will run out before you have a chance to get to them. Knowing and accepting this will help you avoid unnecessary frustration.

3 – Eat. This goes back to the points I made regarding water. At a beer festival, food is your friend. And at Taps & Tastes, we’ve done our best to curate a collection of some of the best restaurants in the Kansas City area and these folks throw down and bring their A game. In addition to soaking up alcohol, awesome food can elevate beer drinking. Try to create cool pairings with the fancy beer and food available during the fest.

4 – Plan your attack. Picking up from my second point and knowing/accepting you can’t get to everything, make a list of breweries/beers you absolutely want to hit and head to those tables first. If you’re really into a certain style, take note of what breweries are pouring before the festival (The beer list will be released a week or two out.) and jot out a map/route. In a large festival it’s easy to waste time zigging and zagging around the festival so try to work out an efficient route between the beers you absolutely need to taste.

5 – Be cool. Have fun. I’ve been to way too many festivals to count since I started in brewing back in 2006, but I’m still not tired of them. What I love is that we all enter the beer festival space and drop whatever’s happening in the outside world for a few hours while we hang out with friends, kick it with strangers, dance to some music and enjoy tasty beers.

If you have any questions leading up to the festival, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if it’s something Taps & Tastes related or hit up Boulevardia for general festival questions. I’m looking forward to an amazing weekend!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – February 21st, 2018

If you’re going to eliminate the obvious choice of curling, I guess I’ll go with ski jumping. I’m crazy fascinated by it. They fly! I can’t imagine that I’m particularly aerodynamic, but I feel like I could build up some mean speed headed down the ramp (or whatever it’s called) to get decent air on the initial jump. I have zero confidence in my ability to land gracefully, but those few seconds of flight would be totally worth it. I imagine I’d only survive one jump, but I’m down.

Wow. I’ve had a ton of homebrewed beers since I started brewing professionally back in 2006 and luckily, most have been pretty good. If I have to pick one or two that stand out, I’ll go all the way back to 2007 when we held a homebrew competition at 75th Street Brewery for the first one. The best beer I tasted was an Orval clone that absolutely nailed it! As someone who appreciates Belgian styles and loves what brettanomyces can contribute to a well made beer, this one checked all the boxes for me. It had that beautiful floral/earthy hop aroma and the brett funk was right on. I can still taste this beer when I think about it. The other beer that immediately jumps out to me is a strawberry Berliner Weisse this past week in Louisville, Kentucky. The brewer added a TON of whole strawberries during secondary fermentation and the beer was a total strawberry bomb with just the right amount of acidity to prevent it from being super cloying. I’d like another glass of that, please.

The series or group into which a particular beer falls determines the bottle shape/size. For the group of beers we refer to as core beers (Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Pale Ale, Bully! Porter, etc.), we use the heritage (shorter/stubby) bottle. For Smokestack Series beers (Tank 7, The Calling, Bourbon Barrel Quad, Whiskey Barrel Stout, etc.), we use the longneck bottle that mimics the shape of the original 750ml bottle we used to launch the Smokestack Series. The idea is that the shape of the bottle allows it to be immediately identified as being a Smokestack beer as opposed to being one of our core/seasonal beers. The shape/size of the bottle doesn’t have any impact on the beer. It’s used to simply create a visual separation between the two families of beer.

It’s pretty rare that we have a beer turn out completely different than we expected, but I do remember when we brewed the first test batch of Two Jokers Double Wit. For folks who might not remember this Smokestack Series seasonal, Two Jokers was an imperial Belgian-style witbier that was brewhouse soured and then spiced with orange peel, coriander, cardamom, pink peppercorns and lavender. When writing a recipe for a hoppy beer, we have a good idea of how many IBUs and what sort of contribution we’re going to get from hops based on the amount and point in the process we add them. There’s actually a formula we use to help us nail down bitterness units, but when it comes to spicing, there’s not really a lavender quotient so it’s all about trial and error. The first batch of Two Jokers we brewed had waaaaay too much lavender and ended up tasting the way cheap purple conditioner smells. We were bummed to do it, but that batch of beer found the drain. Fortunately, we learned a lot about how much of each spice to use in the process and have since started making tinctures that we add to small amounts of beer in our lab before brewing pilot batches.

Isn’t it a cool beer? I’ve definitely enjoyed Manhattan Cask Imperial Stout as it’s a total departure from some of the barrel-aged imperial stouts we’ve brewed in the past. And yes, it’s our first still/minimally carbonated beer. Head here for more info on Manhattan Cask.

As far as the second part of your question, if you were to go back in a time machine, most early beers would have been still as they were fermented in open vessels (pots, jars, etc) and then not bottle conditioned or force carbonated. Even to this day, there are lambic brewers/blenders producing gueuzes and other Belgian sour beers that are served still or with minimal carbonation. It wasn’t until recently that American craft brewers began dabbling in still/flat beers. There are several examples out there of folks taking a page from the Belgians and producing still sour beers, but most recently brewers have applied this technique to imperial stouts or other big, malt-forward beers. It makes a ton of sense with imperial stouts as higher carbonation tends to give beer a more fluffy/airy mouthfeel and can make the beer seem much lighter bodied than it actually is. Serving the beer still or with minimal carbonation allows for a unique sensory experience in which the beer envelopes your palate and camps out for a bit so you ultimately taste more of the beer and experience a heavier mouthfeel.

Since it’s our first go at this type of beer, we’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to tag us with your thoughts on social media or head to Untappd to review the beer.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – February 14th – 2018

When brewing the base wort for beers like Whiskey Barrel Stout, Cabernet Cask Imperial Stout or the recently released Manhattan Cask Imperial Stout, we only collect the first wort/runnings during lautering as opposed to running off the first wort and then sparging (rinsing any residual sugars off the grain with hot water) and collecting second runnings, a diluted/lower gravity wort. Doing this creates a wort that has a much higher end of boil gravity than if we collected both first and second runnings from one mash. So, what we do is mash in, collect first wort, grain out and then mash in again and only collect first wort from that mash. The wort is crazy viscous and looks like a bubbling tar pit in the kettle. It takes quite a long time to brew the beers this way, but the big/sticky body we gain as a result is totally worth it.

All of our draft and bottled beers are brewed and packaged in Kansas City, but we’re currently working with trusted partner breweries to brew and package our canned offerings while we complete our canning hall construction. We discussed this in a Brewer’s Blog post when we first announced that we were introducing canned beer. At the moment, BLVD cans come from Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Summit Brewing Company and Third Street Brewhouse. It’s incredibly important to note that Brewmaster Steven Pauwels, along with other members of our brewing and quality teams, makes regular visits on brewing and packaging days to ensure that everything is up to our super high standards. Additionally, all canned beer is shipped to Kansas City and tested by our lab and tasted by our expert tasting panel before a single drop of beer heads off to our distributors’ warehouses. Once our canning hall is complete, all Boulevard beer will be brewed and packaged in Kansas City.

I’m a huge fan of Dry Stout too, so let’s take a quick pause to reflect back on its deliciousness.

 

Okay. While it’s never an easy decision when it comes to retiring a beer, ultimately, we have to look at sales numbers. While we were definitely aware that Dry Stout had a super loyal (yet small) following, the issue was that it just wasn’t moving quickly enough. We were brewing the smallest size batches we could and still had issues with selling Dry Stout before it reached its best by date in our warehouse. When it comes down to that, we have to make the tough call to retire a beer. It’s worth noting (especially in the case of Dry Stout) that retirement doesn’t mean final, permanent death. We recently brewed a batch of Dry Stout for the Kansas City Renaissance Festival and were able to have the beer on tap in our Beer Hall as well as a few accounts around town. Given the love we saw for this small batch, I’d say it’s likely we’ll see small batches of Dry Stout again in the future, but I obviously can’t make any promises or share any plans as none exist.

A few years ago, I would’ve said, “NO WAY, MAN! GET THAT OUTTA HERE!” but right now, I think that’s a fantastic question. As craft beer continues to boom and we look to grow beyond a 13% share of the total beer market, it’s going to be important (read: necessary) to find new (or old) ways to bring folks into the fold who wouldn’t necessarily self-identify as “craft beer drinkers.” I think a beer like Jam Band, a brand new year-round fruit beer from us, is a great start to this as it appeals to beer drinkers who love fruit beer or are looking for something a little different as well as folks who might say they lean more towards wine or cocktails. Brewing beers that challenge the notion of what the average person thinks beer tastes like is exciting. But back on your question, yeah, I definitely think there’s an opportunity there, especially as beer drinkers show more interest in drinking local. Apart from the major brewers out there, I can only think of a handful of light beers produced by brewers that qualify for the designation of “craft” as determined by the Brewers Association. I do think it’s going to require a bit of shift in thought before something like a light craft beer truly takes off. I think we’ve built craft beer with mantras like “We’ll never brew light beer!” or “Here’s a list of things we’ll never do!” Maybe it’s time to more proactively ask craft beer fans, “What do you want to drink?” So...well...what do you want to drink? @ me.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – February 7th – 2018

We have a saying around the brewery. “Pale Ale goes with cow.” I often refer to this when I’m thinking about beer and food pairings for beer dinners, blog posts or marketing materials. I’d say for the most part, it holds absolutely true. Pairing a big ole fancy burger? Pale Ale! Brisket? Pale Ale! Burnt Ends? Pale! Ale! For me, it’s a no-brainer go to at one of the many killer BBQ joints in Kansas City.

To branch out from Pale Ale, I’d suggest the following pairings:

Tank 7 – Lamb ribs
Beers with near effervescent carbonation flat out (get it?) rock with rich foods because they scrub the palate clean between bites. I dig the way the fruity Belgian yeast character tempers and plays off the slight gamey flavor in lamb. So good.

The Calling IPA – Smoked BBQ wings
For a while, any time someone asked for suggest pairings for our beers, I would do my best to work in smoked or buffalo wings because I believe they’re the perfect beer food. While I’ve diversified my suggested food pairings lately, I’m not willing to back down from this. Hoppy beers are a natural pairing with spicy foods because hops and spice tend to amplify each other resulting in really cool, intense flavors. I like The Calling in this instance because it’s higher ABV and ethanol tends to present as sweet so you also get a bit of a cooling effect. For me, this pairing hits both contrasting and comparing notes.

American Kolsch – Everything, man.
Seriously. Pairing a lighter beer that still has some subtle malt sweetness and just enough herbal/earthy/citrus hop character with BBQ nails it every time.

When asked about my favorite beer and food pairings, I always mention that my current favorite pairing is the beer in my hand with the food on my plate. I LOVE BBQ and obviously have an affinity for our beers so it’s pretty tough to mess up pairing our beers with the cuisine that Kansas City made famous.

Saison Brett - I believe this to be the best beer that we brew. It's sturdy enough to handle a voyage and makes me happy every single time I drink it. Becasue the beer is inoculated with brettanomyces at packaging, the brett strain remains active and I could harvest it to produce future batches of the beer. I would, however, have to isolate it from the champagne yeast we also add for bottle/keg conditioning, but if I’m picked to travel to Mars on a rocket, I’m assuming I’ve developed some skills.

Pale Ale – While I’m totally in love with Saison Brett, Pale Ale is my go to Boulevard beer. I can’t lie and say that I drink it every day, but it’s pretty close. If I’m somewhere with a really cool beer list, I usually like to have a Pale Ale to start the night because I know it’s always going to be solid and then I venture out. If I have room, I’ll have one at the end of the night too. Pale Ale is just such an amazing beer.

Ginger Lemon Radler – I’ve been living the #TeamRadler life for several years now (even before we introduced our own Radler) and I still get super excited each year when Ginger Lemon Radler returns. I dig refreshing, palate cleansing beers and GLR does just that for me. It’s a great “thirsty beer.” If anyone on the trip brings rye whiskey with them, I might toss a splash into the can after I take a drink. (Please DO try this at home.)

City Market Cider – I obviously love beer, but there are times when I don’t feel like a beer so I’ll definitely want to have a cider around for that moment on Mars. I love that City Market is on the drier side of things too.

Rye on Rye on Rye – Rye on Rye is the beer that taught me drink whiskey and when Rye on Rye on Rye came along, my mind was absolutely blown. In addition to being rich and full of toffee/caramel notes, Rye on Rye on Rye is 14+ ABV. If things go south on Mars, this will be a good beer to cry in.

Tank 7 – As we expand into markets outside the Midwest, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale has become our lead dog. If the people (?) of Mars are anything like the people of California or Boston, they’re going to love Tank 7 so I’ll bring along a bottle to share with my new friends.

Oh, man. So many! As more breweries open (which is totally a good thing), it’s become tricky to come up with a name that speaks to the beer, represents the brewery well and is available. It’s the last part that’s tough. Before we get super excited about an idea we have, we usually head to Untappd to see if it’s currently in use at a commercial brewery. If it’s not, we then perform a public COLA search to let us know if there are any breweries who have the name locked down for future use. Finally, our legal folks do all of their fancy searches to make sure the name is good to go.

To go deeper into the naming process itself, if possible, we drink the beer we’re trying to name. We’ve started brewing test batches out fairly far in advance of public releases (so we can really nail the style we’re going for) so it’s usually possible to taste the beer or at least look at a recipe to get an idea of what the final beer will taste like. There’s a great scene in Empire Records where a character is talking about band names and says, “The first thing you need is a name. Then you’ll know what kind of band you’ve got.” While it’s hilarious, we’d prefer for things to work the other way. First, we want to know what kind of beer we’ve got so we can make sure the name fits. We wouldn’t want to give a bold, boozy imperial stout a name that would be better suited for a crisp, delicate saison.

If there’s a particular ingredient or process involved in the production of the beer that is super important or speaks to us, we might steer the name in the direction of that. Rye on Rye and Rye on Rye on Rye are great examples of that. The beers are all about featuring the effects of rye whiskey barrel-aging on rye beers so it would follow that we’d want to focus on rye.

And then sometimes names just come up during brainstorm sessions that we like and feel are appropriate for a wide range of beers. These names might work for the beer we’re currently trying to name or they might be so good we write them down for future releases. Even in these cases, we always want to make sure that the beer is appropriate for the name we’d like to use and vice versa.

Finally, we want to make sure the names we use could never ever (seriously EVER) be construed as offensive to a particular group of folks. Our brewing and production teams work amazingly hard to get fantastic, world-class beers into kegs, bottles and cans so there’s no way we’d ever want to foul that up by naming/branding a beer with anything offensive. I feel like I’ve used this quote in a previous WWKW or blog post, but when John McDonald started the brewery, he had a great answer when asked what happens if someone doesn’t like our beer: Not everyone will like our beer, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t like us.

Once we've settled on a name that checks all of the above boxes, we shop it around the brewery to get approval from folks in sales, marketing and brewing/production. Marketing is something that speaks for everyone at the brewery so we want to make sure everyone feels good about it.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – January 31st – 2018

Well, yes, today is definitely Thursday, but since I take the questions on Wednesday, we decided to call this Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday. I suggested Tell Me Thumthin! Thursday, but no one liked it…so….here we are.

We actually joked about doing this a couple years ago during a new beer release interview with Jonathan Bender from Flatland KC. As we joked about it more, we decided that it should become a real thing so we did it. We brought in Kyle Hopkins from our Tours & Rec Department and together we sat down and paired fancy Boulevard beers with roller foods gathered from around the city. It was a deliciously good time and I’m oddly proud of the video we produced. Check it out:

Roller Food. Craft Beer. The Pairings That Were Never Supposed To Happen.

While I can't speak for all breweries, I'll say that, at Boulevard, we think it's super exciting and awesome to win medals at competitions, but we’re never upset when we don’t win. Winning a medal (especially at the Great American Beer Festival or World Beer Cup) is a huge achievement given the sheer number of breweries that enter, but I wouldn’t say that folks get bummed out if they don’t win.

Ratings/rankings are a bit different. In the same way that folks look to consumer reports and reviews when buying a car or a major appliance, lots of beer drinkers check out reviews/ratings before grabbing a beer they’ve not tried before. In that respect, I’d say that ratings definitely matter, but at the same time, you have to realize that reviews and ratings come from a huge range of folks with different levels of education and palates when it comes to craft beer so reviews can be all over the place. The thing to remember, though, is that every brewery is subject to this so it ultimately results in an even playing field.

I’d also mention that the approach to reading reviews is similar to the mindset when it comes to medals. While we always love to read great reviews, we don’t get super freaked out when someone doesn’t care for one of our beers (provided there’s not a quality issue at play) because we know that everyone won’t like all of our beers. That’s why we brew so many different beers and don’t fret when someone’s personal preferences don’t align with the stated intent of a beer. We also never go after someone following a poor review. John McDonald had a great philosophy when he started the brewery: Not everyone will like our beer, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t like us. I LOVE that quote.

When it comes to developing new beers, we pretty much give our brewing crew total freedom to brew whatever they’re excited about. Once the beer makes its way into the Tours & Rec Center Beer Hall or Tasting Room, we get a good idea of how marketable a beer actually is. For the most part, it’s rare for a test beer to completely flop when we start sharing it with the public, but it usually becomes quite clear when we have something that’s ready to be scaled up for a production run. Black Walnut Ale is a good example of that. We brewed a test batch last year simply named TEST – Black Walnut Ale and folks (guests and BLVD employees) fell in love with it so we knew it would be a great candidate for a Tasting Room beer in our Sample 12 Pack. Another great example is Ginger Lemon Radler. We first released it in the Sample 12 and it blew up so quickly that we immediately transitioned it to a draft-only summer seasonal within a few weeks. The reaction to that was huge so we made it a “real beer” when we launched our canned lineup. We've found that our most successful innovation happens when it's brewer driven. We're lucky to have a great team dreaming up new beers!

We’re very lucky to have such strong support and love from beer fans in Kansas City that it makes sense to offer our entire portfolio at home and in cities within a few hours of the brewery, but as we get further away from the Midwest, we definitely offer a more focused lineup of beers. While we do quite well in cities like Chicago, Boston and San Francisco, we realize that bars won’t necessarily offer us eight tap handles and liquor stores won’t have room for ten Boulevard six-packs so we work with our local sales folks and distributor partners to determine a lineup that we feel makes the most sense for the given region. This means choosing beers that we feel are a little more differentiated like Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale or Tropical Pale Ale. In the same way that a brewery from far outside Kansas City isn’t likely to crush it with an unfiltered wheat ale in our backyard, we realize (and accept) that more common styles from us might not stand out as much several hours from the brewery. We also try to choose beers that are a little more hearty and travel well. Sure, our beer is shipped on refrigerated trucks and held cold by distributors, but we want to do all that we can to put our best (beer) foot forward.

Honestly, we don’t worry too much about other breweries “stealing” our beers as that would be a super odd move to make. If suddenly a brewery had a beer out there that tasted just like Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale or Ginger Lemon Radler, beer drinkers would notice and find it rather weird. Sure, as more breweries open up, the craft beer scene is becoming increasingly more competitive, but craft brewers tend to look at it as more of a friendly competition. Yeah, we all want to win, but we want to do it nicely. For that reason, there’s not a ton of worry regarding theft of intellectual property or recipes. In fact, craft brewers regularly attend and speak at conferences and workshops designed to help everyone do what they can to produce better beer. It’s definitely a “rising tide raises all ships” mentality when it comes to craft beer. I hope that as more breweries open, the friendly atmosphere survives.

This question has come up a couple times in the past for WWKW, but as we get further into the new year, I imagine it will continue to come up so I’m happy to answer it again. Here are the thoughts I’ve previously shared. Definitely let me know if you have any questions.

While we’ve typically shared the next year’s release calendar at the end of the previous year, we’ve made the decision to move away from that practice this year and moving forward. While we enjoy operating at the highest level of transparency possible to give our loyal fans the most and best information we can, we’ve found that in the interest of doing so, it’s possible that we’ve rushed ourselves in committing to beers and release dates while potentially sacrificing the ability to remain nimble and react to emerging trends and requests from beer drinkers.

Beginning in 2018, we’ll no longer share a full calendar of beers with forecasted release dates. Instead, we’ll tell the story of each beer as we conceive, brew, package and taste it (at several steps along the way, of course). We feel this shift in thought will allow us the time and opportunity to truly focus our attention on each beer as it comes our way from both a brewing and production standpoint as well as a sales, marketing and distribution approach. Taking the most time possible with each individual beer allows us to tighten our focus on making the absolute best beers we can while delivering optimal experiences for loyal beer drinkers.

For return limited release and seasonal beers, we’ll add a general release period to each beer’s profile on our website noting the season in which you’ll typically see the beer on shelves and draft walls.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday -January 24th, 2018

While we've previously mentioned that it's highly likely (read: 100% certain) we'll expand our canned lineup once our Kansas City canning line project is complete, we’re not quite ready to share what that lineup looks like. We’re on track to have the first cans rolling off the line in the coming months so expect some more formal, concrete information on that very soon!

First off, this is not silly! I'd love to see  more Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday questions like this, please and thank you! Allison from Old Ox Brewery nailed it with zymurgy and zwickel before I had a chance to read this. Unless anyone out there has a word worth more than 25 points, she’s our Beer Scrabble champ!

Both of our brewhouses (35 bbl and 150 bbl) employ steam for heating water, raising/regulating mash temperature and boiling. While I’ve not brewed on a direct fire or electric system, I can say that one of the advantages to using steam is that we’re able to create closed loops at several points in the process to capture/repurpose steam heat/energy for other applications in the brewhouse. Given my lack of experience with the other two, I’d hesitate to say too much about advantages/disadvantages as it would be simply culled from the internet.

I think there are two possible, yet very different, paths to this. The first, and easiest, is to contact the brewery that made the beer you feel might have an issue. Any time you have a less than awesome experience (or a super awesome experience) with a beer, breweries want to know. The folks who make the beer are best equipped to address any potential quality concerns or to confirm that what you’re smelling/tasting is as intended. Whenever folks contact me to express that they’re not digging something, I always ask for specifics on what they feel might be off to see if there’s an issue or if they simply don’t love the beer.

The second and more involved path is to become familiar with common off-flavors through a self-taught study or a formal training course. There are several companies out there that produce “spikes” you can add to beer to mimic flavors that present following brewing issues or infections. I’ll caution you, though, that while beginning to study off-flavors can deepen your appreciation for well-made beers, it tends to “pull the curtain back” a bit and may cause you to recognize flaws you’ve missed in beers that were prior favorites.

No matter which route you choose, I’d suggest that you always reach out to breweries when you feel you’ve encountered a beer that might have a quality issue. Folks want the opportunity to address issues and make things right.

I dig the shoutout to KCMO Water because we’re lucky, as brewers and water drinkers, to have delicious tasting water to start with. Beyond the mentioned filtration, we honestly don’t too much to the water beyond UV sterilization and pH adjustment. For brewing water, you want the water to be close to neutral so we dose our hot liquor tank with lactic acid to bring the pH down and add the same lactic acid in-line during sparging. The other adjustment we commonly make that’s more style dependent is adding calcium sulfate (gypsum) to our more hop forward beers. Brewing salts tend to add a crispness to expressing hop character/bitterness.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday – January 17th, 2018

Personally, I don’t rouse the sediment in any of our beers except for Unfiltered Wheat Beer and Zon Belgian-Style Witbier. For bottle conditioning, we’ve selected yeast strains that perform their desired functions and then flocculate (settle out) to the bottom of the bottle. When entering our beers in judged competitions, I usually select the “quiet” or “normal” pour option which requests that the pourers leave the yeast sediment in the bottle of the bottle as opposed to swirling and pouring it into the sample glasses with the beer. Like I said, though, when you’re drinking beer at home, it’s totally your call. Some folks enjoy the flavor the bottle conditioning yeast adds and some don’t. The easy way to test this is to pour all but a couple of ounces into your normal drinking glass before swirling the final inch or so and pouring into a side glass. Taste the two glasses side by side and if you enjoy the contribution of the yeast, dump the side glass into your normal glass. The great thing about drinking beer is that it’s pretty difficult to mess it up.

While I loved Requiem for a Pancake as well and was excited to see the overwhelmingly positive responses to the beer, we don’t currently have plans for a rebrew. We do, however, have several great ideas for upcoming Brewhouse One Series beers. I’m not able to talk beer specifics just yet, but stay tuned for exciting news as I’m aware of at least three beers that are currently in development. Our brewers and barrel folks are killing it lately!

I’ve worked in breweries going on 12 years now (I’ll hit 10 years at BLVD in March!) so I’d hesitate to say that anything really irritates me at this point, but if I could change a couple of things, here’s what I’d hope to do:

Convince everyone that personal preference and objective quality aren’t the same thing. As part of my job, I read a ton of beer reviews online and for the most part, I actually really enjoy it. I feel it’s possible to glean valuable information from Untappd, BeerAdvocate, RateBeer, etc. The trick is knowing what to look for. Some folks will rate/review a style they don’t particularly care for and say, “I don’t like (style here). This beer was bad.” I use smoked beer as an example a lot since I don’t personally prefer it, but I’m able to tell a great smoked beer from a not great smoked beer. Too many times, I see folks make the leap from “I didn’t like this beer.” to “I probably got a bad bottle.” While I’m not saying things don’t happen to beer, it’s far more likely that you just don’t like the beer and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The other thing I’d like to do is eliminate beer snobbery. I’ll admit it. I did my time as the resident beer snob at a couple bars/breweries I worked at before landing at Boulevard and when I think about the things I used to say/do, I honestly cringe a bit. I can recall being at a bar drinking (fancy beer here) and silently judging the dude next to me drinking (whatever beer I thought wasn’t great here). As I’ve been around more and matured a little (not a ton, a little), I’ve come to the realization that what the guy/gal next to me at the bar is drinking says absolutely nothing about me and has zero impact on me unless I’m a bit of a jerk. The fact of the matter is that we’re not going to get folks drinking what we feel is better beer by mocking them for their personal preferences. If you want to help grow the craft beer scene, it’s going to happen through positive, friendly advocacy. If you’re a homebrewer, share your beers with your friends, family, neighbors and cool strangers. If you’re into good beer, offer to buy your non-craft drinking buddy an American Kolsch or a KC Pils next time.

Whenever I’m on a podcast and I’m asked for my final thoughts, I always say, “Just be cool.”

I really want to say that I’m Pale Ale, but I don’t think I’m cool enough to be our original beer that’s been continuously brewed since the brewery was founded in 1989 so I’ll go with Tropical Pale Ale. For me, Pale Ale is the ultimate every day beer because it’s become a bit of a security blanket for me (and most folks at the brewery), but I feel like the addition of passion fruit and grapefruit to Tropical Pale Ale offers a bit of a twist on the classic style that sounds like it might not work, but totally works in an unexpected way. So I think I’m that, a pretty regular dude with just a touch of fruity quirkiness. Wait, maybe I’m Ginger Lemon Radler because I love #TeamRadler so much. I really need to think about this more.

At this time, with our current setup, it’s not possible to offer public tours of our barrel library. When we moved to our new, much bigger warehouse, we moved our barrel collection from limestone caves to this warehouse. While it’s not nearly as romantic, it’s better for our barrel crew to have our barrels in an easy to access, temperature controlled spot. The trouble is that there’s tons of forklift traffic in the warehouse as our crew unloads trucks from the brewery and loads distributors’ trucks headed off to deliver our beer around the country. Unfortunately, it’s just not a great space to offer tours.

If you’re looking for a brewery tour that goes a little above and beyond our public tour, I’d suggest checking out the Smokestack Tour. Led by our most experienced and beer geeky guides, Smokestack Tours are a bit smaller, more intimate tours that offer guests access to areas of the brewery not normally seen on public tours. They also feature a curated Smokestack Series beer and food pairing at the end. They’re awesome!

Oh, man. I really dig all the festivals we have in the Kansas City area. That’s not a lie. I just genuinely love the unspoken agreement into which we all enter at a beer fest. No matter what’s going on in our lives or the world, for those 3-5 hours, we just hang out and drink good beer. I’m super lucky to work in an industry that throws so many mini-parties throughout the year. If you’re going to make me pick just one festival, I lean towards the Parkville MicroBrew Festival. It’s been around for going on 15 years and this year will be my 13th time at the fest. I don’t know why it is, but it always seems that the weather is rainy and chilly at the fest, but no one cares. Since Parkville sort of kicks off the festival season in Kansas City, everyone is just so excited to be outside with great people, listening to music and drinking great beer. It’s awesome. If I can throw an honorable mention in, I think I’d go with the Westport Strong Ale Fest. It’s held outdoors in November and features big, warming beers. This past year, it was cold and rainy the whole day and I had an amazing time. Again, it’s just great to be outside drinking great beer. I also dig that they always have a great DJ at the festival so it devolves into a giant dance party by the end of the afternoon. I like to drink beer and dance. It’s the best! Additionally, this is one of the festivals that my wife, Randyl Danner, hosts and I'm always on the lookout for bonus points.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - January 10th, 2018

One of the responses to this tweet called out a couple of local homebrew supply shops that offer classes on homebrewing and I think those are great starts, but I’d also suggest checking out the local homebrew clubs. The brewers I’ve met from Kansas City area clubs have been absolutely on fire about not only brewing (and drinking!) great beer, but also sharing that experience with folks who are new to the scene. Head to a meeting, share some great beer with the club members and you’ll have no trouble making your way to a brew day at someone’s house. Helping out with and seeing the process unfold will give you a great grasp on what goes into homebrewing and will help you determine if it’s for you.

Ask and you shall receive! While I can’t speak to the codes used by other breweries, I’m proud to share that at Boulevard, we include both a packaged on and best by date on our bottles, cans, cases and keg rings. In fact, I shared a Brewer’s Blog post introducing our updated packaging codes a year ago today.

The long and the short of it is that we recognize that folks deserve to know when the beer they’re drinking (or considering buying) was packaged, but we also want to provide guidance to those who like to hold onto beer or are new to the scene. The packaged on date is just that, the date and time the beer was packaged as well as a letter (A-F) that indicates the bright beer tank from which the beer came. The best by date is determined by our brewmaster, quality assurance lab and expert tasting panel. We age our beer in a variety of conditions that simulate a range between the best and worst settings in the real world. As our beer ages, we taste it and conduct analysis to determine when we feel the beer is no longer an excellent example of our intentions.

I’m super proud of this approach and happy to discuss it at length if you have any follow-up questions.

Craft beer is absolutely helped by it! Without the invaluable expertise provided by our distributor partners, our beer wouldn’t see the reach it currently has. At our size, it’s simply impossibly to own and execute all the logistical challenges that exist in distributing beer to 39 states and a few countries. The efforts of our wholesaler partners on behalf of our beers allow us to reach new beer drinkers every day. There’s no way we’d be able to do it without them. While we have sales reps on the ground throughout our distribution footprint, folks from distributors act as the face of our beer every single day too. Cheers to them!

While I’d love to say yes because I’m all for Saison Brett in any package/configuration as I believe it’s the best beer we brew, the process we use to inoculate the beer would put our main bottling line, the only one capable of filling 12oz bottles, at risk of becoming “infected” with brettanomyces. Since Saison Brett is inoculated with brettanomyces at packaging, the beer itself contains active brettanomyces, a wild yeast strain that we just wouldn’t want living in our bottling line. Currently, all of our sour/funky beers are packaged in 750ml bottles using a bottling line in an off-site facility. We do this out of respect for brettanomyces, lactobacillus and other microbes that would be considered beer spoilers in “clean beers” like Pale Ale, Unfiltered Wheat Beer or The Calling Double IPA. I am, however, able to share that you'll definitely see more four-packs of Smokestack Series limited release and seasonal beers in the future! Stay tuned!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - January 3rd, 2018

While we don’t currently have plans for any Saison Brett variants, I will share that our barrel crew has some projects in the works that have me VERY excited. On a recent visit to our warehouse, I tasted through quite a few sour barrels in our library that are holding Love Child base beers with a variety of fruits, peaches included. One in particular (that I won’t go into detail on right now) absolutely blew my mind! It was so delicious that I immediately sent a text to Steven Pauwels, Boulevard’s brewmaster, to tell him how amazing it was. Stay tuned!

I prefer spring beers that straddle the line between being heavy/flavorful enough for cooler nights, but still crisp and refreshing enough for when the cold weather finally lets up. During the spring, you’ll find me drinking maibocks, irish reds and then saisons when it gets a touch warmer. The last two would be fairly easy to brew quickly and I’m happy to help with recipe info/guidance if you want to reach out to me on Twitter. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t really feel like there’s necessarily an off-season for whatever style of beer you enjoy the most. It’s along the same lines as my approach to beer and food pairing basics. Your favorite beer pairs with your favorite food every single time and I think your favorite style of beer is always going to be enjoyable to you regardless of the weather. I will admit that I have curious admiration for those of you out there who drink massive imperial stouts when it’s 90+ degrees out and the humidity makes it feel like you have a bag of wet towels strapped to your back. Cheers to you!

Since we sell bottles and cans that are filled on state of the art packaging lines that enable us to sell beer with amazingly low levels of total packaged oxygen, we don’t have plans (at the minute) to begin filling growlers or crowlers in the Tours & Rec Center Beer Hall. Before typing this up, I dropped by our gift shop to check out our to-go beer selection and we currently have 20 different beers available in cans and bottles with Irish Ale and Rye on Rye hitting the store this week and next. With the exception of test beers or one-off draft releases, it’s possible to buy nearly all of the beers we have on in the Beer Hall in our gift shop. Even if we did fill growlers, I highly doubt we’d sell test beers to go as they’re test beers, beers that aren’t quite ready to be sold outside the brewery. Make sense? Definitely ask me any follow up questions you might have.

First off, if you ever have an experience with a Boulevard beer that you feel is less than awesome, please let us know more here. Select "Report Quality Issue" from the menu and the information you provide will be shared with our gatekeeper (He handles all incoming messages from the website.) and our quality assurance team. Regarding sediment, especially in our bottle conditioned beers, here's the text from a blog post we recently shared:

“Hey, what’s this in my beer?” is a question we receive from time to time on social media, beer discussion boards or the brewery email inbox. While it’s not possible for us to know the exact cause each time a beer has a less than beautiful appearance due to “floaties,” it’s super important to note that whatever is causing excess sediment or uncharacteristic haze is 100% harmless and, in most cases, shouldn’t negatively impact the flavor or aroma of the beer.

Given that all of our beers (with the exception of most lagers) are bottle conditioned, it’s perfectly normal for our bottled offerings to have some haze causing sediment in the bottom of each bottle. The manner in which the beer is handled before and during pouring can certainly disturb this fine layer of sediment resulting in a beer that has a bit of a snow globe effect. The good news (as mentioned above) is that disturbing this sediment won’t negatively impact the beer, but the better news is that it’s super easy to avoid rousing this yeast or to totally rouse it if you happen to dig your beer that way. Careful pouring, ensuring that the bottle tilts smoothly without being returned to an upright position during pouring (which can cause sloshing and disturb the sediment) coupled with leaving a small amount of beer (less than an ounce) in the bottle results in the sediment being left behind. If you’re interested in rousing the sediment into suspension and adding the last bit to your beer, simply swirl the last inch or so of the bottle for a few seconds and you’ll release the yeast sediment from the bottom of the bottle and deliver it into your beer.

The other common haze/sediment producers (in our beers) are precipitated protein, polyphenols or a combination of the two. With a beer like Unfiltered Wheat Beer, we strive to create a stable protein haze that results in the beautiful, near glowing appearance you’ve come to expect. We like to think we’ve gotten fairly good at producing and maintaining this level of haze, but since beer is produced using agricultural ingredients that vary slightly batch to batch, it’s our job to make subtle adjustments to recipes and processes to continually produce the same beer with the same flavors and attributes you’re used to. Given these circumstances, there will be times when Unfiltered Wheat Beer or other beers produced using higher protein malts will exhibit a slight haze or minimal floaties.

While neither is necessarily cosmetically attractive, the good news that should be reiterated is that there should be zero negative impact on the flavor/aroma of the beer."

The only Boulevard beers that are brewed at Duvel in Belgium for the European market are Tank 7, Single-Wide IPA and The Calling. All other beers come from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri. At this time, we don't have plans to expand that lineup to include Unfiltered Wheat Beer, but we have learned to never say never. You will, however, see limited drops of Smokestack Series Limited Release beers like Saison Brett or Rye on Rye from time to time as well as the occasional seasonal beer on draft.

It depends on the beer. For a beer like Bob’s ’47 Oktoberfest that needs to be lagered for several weeks before bottling/kegging, we’ll start brewing at least a couple months before the target release date. For seasonal ales, we’re usually brewing a few weeks out in front of the launch. The thing to consider is that if we’re hoping to launch a beer in an outlying market at the same time as we launch in Kansas City, we need to be ready to ship the beer to faraway distributors a little sooner than we ship to Central States Beverage in Kansas City. Central States receives multiple trucks from us each week, but a distributor in California might only get one truck per month. If we waited to ship that beer to California at the same time we ship to Kansas City area distributors, the beer might launch several weeks later in California. Obviously our priority is on the Kansas City release date, but if we can work the logistics out in such a way that beer can launch in San Francisco at the same time or a few days after Kansas City, that’s a win for everyone.

Oh, man. I'm probably the wrong guy for an ice cream question as I honestly don't enjoy it, but if I were an ice cream guy, I'd say Bourbon Barrel Quad would rock with salted caramel. The tartness of the cherries added to the barrels would contrast nicely with the sweetness of the ice cream while the malt profile of BBQ would marry up with notes of caramel and toffee. I also enjoy beers that are slightly higher carbonated with rich/sweet foods as the carbonation scrubs the palate with each drink so each bite of the ice cream (or a food I actually enjoy) tastes just as fresh as the first bite.

For your third question, I hesitate to pick just one as I feel we're very lucky to have tons of new breweries opening up in the Kansas City area as of late. I'd hate to leave someone out. I will say that I think it's very cool that all of the newer breweries are creating unique identities through the styles they choose to focus on. Differentiation is going to be key to survival as more and more breweries open in the United States.

Let me start with a disclaimer on this one: Dave is one of my buddies and the brewmaster at August Schell in New Ulm, Minnesota. I know he’s trolling me here, but after I thought about this question (for probably longer than I should), I realized he might be on to something here. As a new owner of an Instant Pot, my wife and I have played around with pressure cooking pork butts, whole chickens and soups, but we haven’t fiddled with the yogurt setting just yet, buuuuut if you’re looking to hold something at a precise temperature for a good amount of time like you would in the case of brewhouse/kettle souring, an Instant Pot or a crock pot might just be the way. I’m going to speak for Dave and say that if anyone out there tries this, please send us a sample of your beer. We’ll drink anything once. Also, if I say Instant Pot one more time, do you think they'll send me a t-shirt?


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - December 27th, 2017

Man, that’s a tough one. I’m totally a BLVD homer, but I was honestly blown away by Changeling and Cabernet Cask Imperial Stout. If you make me pick one, I have to go with Cabernet Cask Imperial Stout. The base beer was massive, sticky, chocolaty and complex and on top of that, the barrels worked some serious magic. I thought it was super cool how much cabernet character manifested in the finished beer even though the barrels held whiskey immediately prior to us receiving them. The way the notes from the cab, the whiskey and the base beer came together was spectacular. Our brewers and barrel crew crushed this one. Well done, friends!

As far as a beer I’m looking forward to in 2018, since we’re not quite ready to discuss the details of our 2018 release schedule, I can’t be super specific, but I will say that I’m pumped to see (and taste) all the cool projects coming from our barrel program. Our guys have some really great fruited sours in oak right now. One in particular absolutely blew my mind last week. You’ll definitely want to pay attention to what’s in the works with the Brewhouse One Series.

My thoughts from a previous Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday question regarding our 2018 plans:

While we’ve typically shared the next year’s release calendar at the end of the previous year, we’ve made the decision to move away from that practice this year and moving forward. While we enjoy operating at the highest level of transparency possible to give our loyal fans the most and best information we can, we’ve found that in the interest of doing so, it’s possible that we’ve rushed ourselves in committing to beers and release dates while potentially sacrificing the ability to remain nimble and react to emerging trends and requests from beer drinkers.

Beginning in 2018, we’ll no longer share a full calendar of beers with forecasted release dates. Instead, we’ll tell the story of each beer as we conceive, brew, package and taste it (at several steps along the way, of course). We feel this shift in thought will allow us the time and opportunity to truly focus our attention on each beer as it comes our way from both a brewing and production standpoint as well as a sales, marketing and distribution approach. Taking the most time possible with each individual beer allows us to tighten our focus on making the absolute best beers we can while delivering optimal experiences for loyal beer drinkers.

For returning limited release and seasonal beers, we’ll add a general release period to each beer’s profile on our website noting the season in which you’ll typically see the beer on shelves and draft walls.

As several beer pros have mentioned over the past week (Quite a few folks are running 2018 beer prediction pieces right now.), I think we’ll see continued focus and attention on brewing more classic, traditional styles. I’m not saying that we should stop innovating and making crazy beers by any means, but leaving some room in the production schedule for balanced, approachable, familiar styles might not be a bad idea. As we’re all trying to grow the craft beer scene beyond a ~15% market share, it’s going to be important to continue to brew gateway beers. That’s not to say that American craft brewing should be “dumbed down” by any means, but I think there’s something to be said for brewing a great, drinkable pilsner/Kolsch/golden ale alongside gnarly barrel-aged stouts and out there sours.

Another trend I’d like to see grow (and something I personally dedicated myself to on social media a couple years back) is a conscious effort to promote craft beer in a positive, friendly manner. In the early days of my personal beer journey, I’m well aware of the fact that I was an insufferable beer snob. I thought I was doing the right thing by being loud and showing how much I (thought I) knew about beer and how much better I thought the beer I was drinking was, but man, I was wrong. We’re not going to get new folks on board with craft beer by metaphorically knocking beers out of their hands. Folks like what they like and personal preference is just that, personal. I hope more craft beer people make it their mission to introduce their friends, family, neighbors and (when appropriate) total strangers to craft beer by simply sharing great beer with them. No one’s going to drink what we feel is better beer because we look down at them for digging what they dig. I guess what I’m saying is, “Hey. Be cool, man.”

SOON hopefully! I know that I need to make it out to Connecticut to hang out!

Assuming you’re fairly accomplished at making “clean” beer, not that difficult. If you can guide your beer through brewing, fermentation and packaging without compromising it, a controlled inoculation of your beer in oak, stainless or your carboy with lactic acid producing bacteria and wild yeast, is pretty straightforward. The real effort is going to be attempting to be patient while the bugs & brett do their work.

I LOVE sour/tart/wild beer and could go and on and on about how to produce it, but I’d suggest checking out Wild Beers: Beer Beyond the Influence of Brewer’s Yeast by Jeff Sparrow. It’s brilliant!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - December 20th, 2017

This is a great question! I feel like brewery folks always talk about desert island beers, but never specific raw materials. If pressed to pick just one, I think I'd have to go with Centennial. I love the grapefruit/citrus character they impart, but their alpha acid levels are high enough that I could use them for bittering the beer I brew on this desert island. If I can change the rules and pick two (and I feel like I can because WWKW is my thing), I'd select Cascade as my second choice. It's arguably the hop on which the American craft brewing revolution was built on and is the star of Boulevard Pale Ale. I never tire of our Pale Ale. Ever.

I feel like these questions are fairly similar, but different enough so I'll address them at the same time. Whenever asked about my favorite beer and food pairing, I always say it's the beer in my hand with the food on my plate, but if I have to go with something specific, I'll go with a pairing from a local beer dinner back in 2012. The dish was a pseudo-fancy interpretation of a roasted turkey leg with traditional Thanksgiving sides. I paired Love Child No. 1 to mimic the acidity you'd get from cranberry sauce and the richness of the dish made the beer explode. It was incredible!

If I have to go with one beer and food pairing for the rest of my life, I'm going with a fancy supreme pizza loaded with meat and veggies with Pale Ale. Today's WWKW is all about Pale Ale, I guess.

It might be more pedantic than petty, but I'm willing to die on a hill marked, "Personal preference and objective quality are different things." As part of my job, I read TONS of beer reviews (which provide lots of useful information most of the time) and it always throws me when I read a review for a highly regarded beer of ours that says, "Terrible. I hate saisons." Well, if you hate saisons and think this one is terrible, does that mean it's actually quite awesome?

I've gotten to the point in my personal beer journey where I can taste examples of styles I may not care for and still objectively evaluate if I think it's a good execution of that style. I've discussed this in previous WWKWs, but it's not the job of every BLVD employee to love every BLVD beer, but we all should know what a great example of Unfiltered Wheat Beer or Tank 7 or Single-Wide IPA tastes like even if those aren't our favorite beers. Personally, I'm freaked out by smoked beers, but I can taste a good one and say, "Yeah, I totally get why folks dig this."

Boogie woogie woogie?

From a blog post I wrote announcing the return of Nutcracker Ale this year:

Boulevardians look forward to the return of Nutcracker Ale each year not only because the beer is delicious, but also due to the fact that we feature every single employee’s name and how long they’ve been at Boulevard on the neck labels. They’re randomly mixed in as the labels are loaded on the labeling machine and are spread throughout our distribution network. Hey, mom & dad! My name’s on a beer bottle!

To learn more about some of the Boulevardians featured on Nutcracker Ale neck labels, head to Meet the Beer Elves, an ongoing series of posts from Pat Mullin, our Digital Marketing Manager.

Done and done! We've been in the Atlanta area for a few years now! Head to our beer finder to track down some BLVD beers near you.

Many years ago when I was a Boy Scout, I ate some barbecued raccoon. I don't want to talk about it.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - December 13th, 2017

Well, you got me there. Saison Brett was definitely going to be my choice. I honestly believe it’s the best beer we brew and having it on a desert island would be great because as the beer ages, the brettanomyces continues to do its thing, causing the beer to develop complexity over time. With Saison Brett removed from the equation, I have to go with Pale Ale. It’s the first beer John McDonald brewed when he founded Boulevard and it’s often the first beer I’ll have when I’m out at a beer bar. In fact, it’s the beer I have on tap at home right now! For me, Boulevard Pale Ale is the ultimate comfort beer. It’s like a hopped security blanket or a balanced binky. There’s a reason that Pale Ale is in our top three beers by sales volume: It’s damned good.

I’ll be 100% honest. When I first started seeing pictures of NEIPAs, I thought, “Whoa. This looks like a yeast sample or a trub out! What’s going on?” but then I tasted some of the best examples of the style out there and I was blown away. I know it’s the cool thing right now for brewery folks to hate on hazy beer, but I think it’d be shortsighted to ignore their popularity and the excitement these beers are generating. The other thing to recognize is that hazy IPAs are really changing the way folks think about hoppy beer. Whenever someone tells me, “I don’t like hops,” I hear, “I don’t completely understand the range of contributions hops can make to beer.” These lower bitterness, super huge flavor/aroma hop bombs burst with such vibrant, juicy fruit flavor that I feel they have an even wider appeal than “traditional” American IPAs. A few months ago, I would have dismissed this all as a fad, but seeing how many breweries are getting on board and how much the appetite for these beers has grown, I’d say we’re looking at a possible new sub-style to American IPA.

I have to toot my own horn for a second and say that I’m a big fan of the names Seeyoulator and Snow & Tell as they’re beers I named. I was super surprised when we found out that both were available given just how many breweries are in operation. I’d figured for sure that they’d be taken. To expand outside BLVD beers, I think the following names are great: Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze, Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Against the Grain Tickle Me Ale-mo and of course, Screw You Jeremy Danner from Off Color.

We employ two methods for acidification/souring at Boulevard. For beers like Hibiscus Gose or Tequila Barrel Lime Gose, we use brewhouse or kettle souring to lower the pH of the wort before it’s boiled. This quick-souring method takes place over the course of 48 hours and is suitable for more approachable/entry-level sour beers. For more complex sour beers like Love Child blends or Changeling, we inoculate the secondary fermentation vessel (barrels, our foeder or stainless tanks) with lactobacillus and brettanomyces. This process can take several months (or years) to fully unfold. When souring beer using this method, the role our barrel crew plays in shepherding the beer through the process is hugely important. They taste beers at several stages along the way to help predict when the beer will be ready to be blended and packaged.

As for new sour beers on the horizon, we're not quite ready to talk about 2018 plans, but I think fans of tart/sour beers will be quite happy.

I don't know if this necessarily qualifies as an unpopular opinion, but I think folks are surprised to learn that it doesn’t bother me when someone puts a lemon (or an orange or whatever) into their Unfiltered Wheat Beer. I think there’s an odd notion out there that you shouldn’t fruit your beer, but I think the lemon or other citrus nicely complements the naturally citrusy character of the beer. While I don’t serve Unfiltered Wheat Beer with a lemon at my house nor do we do it in the Beer Hall, if that’s the way you enjoy our beer, I think that’s awesome. I’m a big fan of this meme:


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - December 6th, 2017

While I always have a Boulevard beer on tap in my basement (currently Pale Ale), I stock a ton of OPB (other people's beers) in my beer fridge and do my best to try everything I can when I'm out. I feel that it's super important for brewery folks to try as many different beers as possible. Some of my personal favorites include Victory Prima Pils, 2nd Shift Katy, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stiegl Radler, Logboat Mamoot, McCoy's Ginger Shandy, New Belgium La Folie, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, 4 Hands Super Flare. I could go on and on, man. As beer drinkers, we're so incredibly lucky to have access to such a huge variety of beers just blocks from our houses. It's insane!

To answer the second part of the second question, I have HUGE respect for Sierra Nevada. They were among the first craft brewers to pop up and from the very beginning, they did things their way guided by a belief that the beers they were making were delicious and important and they continue to do things the right way to this day. It doesn't hurt that I have a MAJOR mancrush on Steve Dresler, their recently retired brewmaster. Dude's legit!

Primary fermentation in both Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and Saison Brett is carried out by our house Belgian yeast strain which technically isn't a saison yeast at all. To approximate the characters imparted by it, I'd suggest going with a Trappist style high gravity yeast. For Saison Brett, we inoculate the base beer (Tank 7) with brettanomyces bruxellensis at packaging.

The smallest batch we brew is 35 bbl, 1,085 gallons. The original brewhouse that BLVD Founder John McDonald installed when he launched the brewery back in 1989 is still in use to this day. It's wild to note that from 1989 to 2006, every drop of Boulevard beer (over 100,000 bbls!) was brewed on a 35 bbl system. Our brewing team worked around the clock, through weekends and holidays to keep up. When Brewhouse Two, a 150 bbl system, was commissioned in 2006, our original brewhouse became the playground for experimentation that birthed the first Smokestack Series beers: Saison, The Sixth Glass, Long Strange Tripel and Double-Wide IPA. When I started brewing at Boulevard in March of 2008, we'd spend a couple days on Brewhouse One brewing Smokestack Series beers before jumping over to Brewhouse Two to brew year-round and seasonal favorites like Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Pale Ale, Bully! Porter, etc.

35 bbls might seem like a lot of beer, and maybe it is, but given that we now pour test beers in the Tours & Rec Center Beer Hall and Tasting Room and try to get new batches out to festivals and events, that volume of beer gives us the opportunity to get the beer in front of folks in a wide variety of settings to get a ton of feedback. It's super important to get beer drinkers' honest thoughts when we're developing a new BLVD beer.

Fresh batches of Tasting Room Black Walnut Ale and Oat Pale Ale were bottled on Tuesday for inclusion in our current Sample Twelve pack alongside American Kolsch and Bully! Porter. You'll be happy to know that these beers will be around until early spring 2018 when two new Tasting Room beers will rotate in.

While we’ve typically shared the next year’s release calendar at the end of the previous year, we’ve made the decision to move away from that practice this year and moving forward. While we enjoy operating at the highest level of transparency possible to give our loyal fans the most and best information we can, we’ve found that in the interest of doing so, it’s possible that we’ve rushed ourselves in committing to beers and release dates while potentially sacrificing the ability to remain nimble and react to emerging trends and requests from beer drinkers.

Beginning in 2017, we’ll no longer share a full calendar of beers with forecasted release dates. Instead, we’ll tell the story of each beer as we conceive, brew, package and taste it (at several steps along the way, of course). We feel this shift in thought will allow us the time and opportunity to truly focus our attention on each beer as it comes our way from both a brewing and production standpoint as well as a sales, marketing and distribution approach. Taking the most time possible with each individual beer allows us to tighten our focus on making the absolute best beers we can while delivering optimal experiences for loyal beer drinkers.

For return limited release and seasonal beers, we’ll add a general release period to each beer’s profile on our website noting the season in which you’ll typically see the beer on shelves and draft walls.

We have the luxury of pasteurizing Ginger Lemon Radler and Cranberry Orange Radler before packaging to ensure that there are no active yeast cells in the beer that could cause can/keg refermentation, but you might try adding a sugar that brewer's yeast can't consume. A touch of lactose might do the trick.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - November 29th, 2017

We do our best to never say never, but at this time, we don't have plans to move Whiskey Barrel Stout or Bourbon Barrel Quad from four-packs to six-packs. Given the cost of producing barrel-aged beers year-round (base beers, barrels, time and the labor of our barrel crew), we'd have to charge more than we're comfortable with for six-packs of Whiskey Barrel Stout or Bourbon Barrel Quad. Additionally, we dig that our year-round Smokestack Series beers and year-round barrel-aged beers are line-priced.

No. Due to the very small batch size we're able to produce for Brewhouse One Series beers, they'll only be available for purchase in the Boulevard Tours & Rec Center. For this exciting series of beers, we're giving our brewing team complete freedom to create whatever they'd like without regard to the cost of raw materials, processes or aging time. These beers are positioned at the intersection of science and art and the level of freedom allowed gives our brewers the opportunity to showcase their passion for brewing extraordinary beers. Placing any sort of restrictions on cost or minimum batch size would negatively impact the purity of these projects.

It's a combination of the two. I do my best to taste new beers with folks from the brewing team at different stages in the process. I feel that communicating the intent of the brewers while also accurately describing the beer that's in the glass is important, especially with new beers. If you know what the brewers are going for and my notes back that up, I think it's easier for you to decide if you think the beer is good or if you feel it's an accurate/successful execution of intent. Abby Zender, our Quality Sensory Coordinator, conducts descriptive tastings with our expert sensory panel and sends me thoughts on new beers that I use to "reality check" my tasting notes.

Awesome, man! I'm glad you dig it! When we start working on a new beer, our brewers and lab folks meet to discuss what they'd like to accomplish with the beer. With those goals in mind, Brewmaster Steven Pauwels or a member of our brewing team writes a recipe that becomes the first test batch. Given the extensive knowledge our team has regarding the raw materials, processes and equipment we use, our test batches usually come out pretty close to what we thought they'd be, but that's only half of the equation. While we might (internally) feel good about the beer, we also need to make sure it's something that our fans will enjoy so the Beer Hall becomes very important at this step in the process. We create profiles for each test beer on Untappd.com and our Beer Hall staff is trained to ask our guests questions to get their thoughts on new/test beers. We pull together all the information from those points of feedback to help us make adjustments for each following test batch. Most of the time, the alterations are fairly subtle, but there are instances where we make major adjustments batch to batch depending on internal and external feedback.

As for the future of TEST - Unfiltered IPA, we're not quite ready to share any news on that front, but know that we brew most test beers to help us prepare for a future release.

Yes and no. It depends on the beer and the method used to sour/acidify it. For beers that are brewhouse/kettle soured like Hibiscus Gose, the acidification occurs before the boil so the lactobacillus (a lactic acid producing bacteria) is killed off before the wort is transferred to the fermenter. Once that happens, the beer can be handled in the same manner as any of our other "clean" beers (Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Pale Ale, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, etc.) without fear of cross contamination or infection of our fermenters, filtration equipment or packaging lines.

For beers that are inoculated with brettanomyces or lactobacillus following primary fermentation (beers like Love Child blends, Saison Brett or Changeling), we take extreme caution to avoid allowing those microbes from working their way into other beers. Our sour barrels, foeder and stainless tanks are kept in off-site warehouses to isolate the beers inside. When it's time to bottle/keg these beers, they're blending in the same facility where we package 750ml bottles of Saison Brett, Love Child blends, Foeder Project and Changeling. Following the packaging run, our Smokestack Series bottling crew dismantles the filler and any equipment through which the sour beer has passed and performs a super intense deep cleaning/sanitation to completely kill off any wild yeast or lactic acid producing bacteria. Samples of rinse water are analyzed by our microbiologist to confirm that the cleaning regiment has sufficiently removed lactobacillus and brettanomyces before any clean beer is packaged on the line.

I wouldn't say that we fear brettanomyces and lactobacillus, but we certainly respect them.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - November 22nd, 2017

I have no idea, man. Although, if I’m being perfectly honest (which I usually am, to a fault), I’m going to reach for something a little lower ABV during meal prep and then likely go with Tank 7 or Saison Brett during the meal. I love both beers so much and feel that they’re near perfect food-pairing beers.

I work closely with Steven Pauwels (our brewmaster) and Abby Zender (our quality sensory coordinator) to choose the beers we submit to the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup and other international beer competitions. There’s actually quite a bit of strategy involved. We think about beers that we’d love to see win a medal (beers like Tank 7 or The Sixth Glass because they’re year-round beers) or beers that we feel have a strong chance of winning simply because we feel they’re amazing, beers like Saison Brett or Changeling.

Once we have a short list of beers we’re considering, we look at which beers have previously won in categories we think fit each beer as well as the number of entries in that category in previous years. Do we feel the category is growing/shrinking? Are there going to be a ton of entries? Does this beer fit in a category that’s not necessarily the style we call it? After considering all of that, we narrow it down to what we’d like our final entries to look like and get a second set of eyes on it.

For your question specifically related to Cabernet Cask Imperial Stout, competition beers were due in Denver before Cabernet Cask Imperial Stout was ready to be released so we didn’t consider it for GABF. I am, however, strongly considering it for the World Beer Cup.

Early on, I hadn’t seen a lot of questions and I knew, no matter what, this question was going to give me plenty to talk about. For that, I thank you, Jimi. I’ll go in order of your questions and do my best to address each point.

On our end, we group beers into pricing tiers that we feel are appropriate for a group of beers. An example of this would be Unfiltered Wheat Beer and Pale Ale are core beers while Tank 7 and The Sixth Glass are Smokestack Series beers. On top of that you have Smokestack Series Limited Release for beers like Saison Brett and Rye on Rye on Rye and our current highest tier is Love Child/sour blend pricing. For the most part, these tiers account for raw materials, processes, time, etc. required to produce each beer. ABV figures in a bit, but there’s not necessarily a cutoff ABV for a beer to move from core to Smokestack Series, but generally speaking, these are beers that are above 6.5 to 7 ABV.

For beers that see full distribution, everything except Brewhouse One releases, we brew to order based on amounts requested by our distributors. For that reason, batch size doesn’t play into the pricing discussion on most beers.

When it comes down to it, it’s important to note that breweries (by law) don’t have the final say when it comes to pricing at the retail level, but we do think about what we think beers will likely retail for to determine the price we’ll charge distributors. Soooo, we sell our beer at a predetermined price to independent distributors who sell the beer to independent retailers at a price they determine who then sell the beer to you. At each level, folks set a price that allows them to make money while still shooting for a reasonable price to you when the beer hits retail shelves or draft walls.

Make sense? Definitely hit me up on Twitter if you have any follow up questions.

The last time I was in New York for events was when we launched Boulevard in New York City in early 2015. I’d love to make it back out to drink beers with folks now that we’ve established ourselves in the state. NY BLVD sales reps, are you reading this? :)

Maaaaaaybe. Stay tuned.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - November 15th, 2017

Given that we brew 50+ beers each year including test batches that are poured in the Beer Hall, I have to say I'm pretty happy with the variety of beers we offer. I do, however, have a soft spot for low ABV, super crisp, slightly tart Belgian table beers. I don't know if you remember the original Smokestack Series Saison, but a slightly lower ABV version of that with just a touch of acidity could be my desert island beer. And since you mentioned cider, I'll take this opportunity to remind folks that City Market Cider, our first cider AND a gluten free option for BLVD fans, dropped this week in the Greater Kansas City Area and will be on shelves in areas that typically see Smokestack Series seasonal releases soon.

We're quite lucky in Kansas City that the water from our municipal supply is not only delicious, but it makes for great brewing water. Apart from standard active carbon filtration and pH adjustment, we don't have to do much with our water. We add some calcium sulfate (gypsum) to the mash tun, but that's it.

First off, I never take it personally when someone says something negative about one of our beers to me. I do, however, ask folks to qualify what they mean when they say a beer "sucks." What sucks about it? Do you feel there's something wrong with it or is this particular beer just not your thing? I think it's incredibly important to recognize the difference between personal preference and objective quality. There are styles out there that I just don't enjoy, smoked beers being an example, but I'm capable of tasting a super smoked beer and saying, "Yeah, this is a great example of the intended style or it's an accurate execution of intent." Just because I may not like a beer doesn't mean there's necessarily anything flawed about it. On the other hand, I think it's totally possible for someone to enjoy what might objectively be a bad beer. Here's the deal: Everyone's palate is different and none of us are capable of tasting a beer in the same way the person next to us is.

It's certainly been talked about, but we don't currently have any plans for any Saison Brett variants. Instead, our Lead Brewer - Barrel Aging Ryan McNeive and his crew have a TON of experiments going on right now involving oak-aged/fermented sour beers with a variety of fruits. We're so early in the testing phase that we don't have any definite plans to share, but our recent investments into our barrel program and crew have me VERY excited for the future. Stay tuned!

Here you go!

Pale Malt - 62.5%
Amber 50 - 2.4%
Cara 120 - 6.7%
Cara 300 - 8.5%
Roost 900 (Chocolate Malt) - 3.7%
Patagonia Black Pearl - 4.9%
Chocolate Rye - 1.2%
Malted Rye - 1.2%
Melanoidin Malt - 2.4%
Flaked Oats - 3.3%
Midnight Wheat - .6%

It's worth mentioning that we add dark brown sugar during the boil to increase gravity by 3.4 Plato.

Definitely hit me up if you have any additional questions. I'm happy to share any recipe information with you.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - November 8th, 2017

Following fermentation in our stainless steel tanks, beer destined for barrel aging is transferred into horizontal tanks in our blending room. Our barrel-aging crew then hand racks the beer into barrels before they're loaded onto trucks to head to our warehouse. It's amazingly tedious, but we feel it's 100% worth it. Our barrel crew works hard and for that, we thank them!

In this instance, I'd have to go with a mirror-plated cooler. Is this the correct answer?

In addition to carrying packaged on dates, our bottles/cans/boxes also have best by dates printed on them. Our best by dates are determined by our Brewmaster, lab crew and expert tasting panel based on results from tasting our beers stored in a variety of "real world" conditions that replicate a range of storage conditions from the absolute best to the absolute worst. From time to time, we'll revisit our shelf lives for beers to see if they need to be shortened or if it's possible to extend the expiration date on a particular beer.

Once production and packaging of our canned beers moves back to Kansas City following the completion of our canning hall, we definitely plan to expand the lineup of beers offered in cans. We don't have any definite plans to share just yet, but will be share details in early 2018.

Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Brett Saison Bre


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - November 1st, 2017

I don't recall the exact beer that made me fall in love with craft beer and brewing, but I do remember the moment that made me want to get into brewing. I was in a professional improv comedy troupe in Kansas City back in the early 2000s and one of the members of the troupe was the head brewer at the now closed Hops Grillhouse & Brewery on 39th Street in Independence, Missouri. He'd always bring beer to cast parties, but because I wasn't 21 yet, he wouldn't let me have any. He promised that if I came to the brewpub on my 21st birthday, he'd buy me lunch and beers. I obviously took him up on that offer. As I walked into the brewpub to grab lunch on July 23, 2002, I saw him climbing out of one of the vessels in the brewhouse following cleaning up after a brew. I remember my mind being blown and thinking, "Whoa! People make beer!" Up until this point, I'd never really thought about the human element involved in the production of beer, just the factory aspect of it all. That moment kick started an absolute obsession with trying every beer I could get my hands on and ultimately led to me getting a job at 75th Street Brewery in Waldo where I brewed my first batch of beer in June of 2006.

Yes. To produce cider in the state of Missouri, we hold a winery license/permit in addition to our brewer's permit. In case you missed the news, City Market Cider drops in the Greater Kansas City Area starting on Tuesday, November 14th! Head to my Brewer's Blog post to learn more.

Absolutely! I think there's a common misconception that dark beers are always high ABV and have a heavy mouthfeel, but there are tons of lower ABV  beers out there that feature roasted/chocolate malt character. I'm a big fan of Irish-style stouts, English Dark Mild Ales and more sessionable porters. The trouble I think great brown ales have is that they tend to get lost in the mix with more vocal craft beer folks. While more drinkable styles like pilsner and Kolsch are certainly on the upswing, the beers that get a ton of attention are ones featuring more extreme ingredients, flavors and high ABV. Once beer drinkers go so far down that road, they inevitably come back to beers they can enjoy a few of versus only being interested in splitting a bottle with buddies.

We're not quite there yet! Construction is coming along nicely and we're still on pace to bring all canned beer production back to Kansas City in the first part of 2018. If you drop by the brewery for a tour or some beers in the Beer Hall, you'll see that most of the exterior walls are up and crews are working to install metal beams to support the roof and other infrastructure. Stay tuned!

We currently brew two stouts that are available year-round! Check out Dark Truth Stout and Whiskey Barrel Stout from our Smokestack Series. Additionally, you may still be able to find Tough Kitty Milk Stout bottles. I'd also suggest checking out Bully! Porter. It features a little more American hop profile than most traditional stouts do, but it totally checks the roasted/chocolate malt character box.

With our house English and Belgian ale strains, the maximum number of generations (repitches) we'll go to is ten. Each time we harvest yeast following fermentation, our cellarmen perform tests on the yeast to determine viability, vitality and overall fitness. When we brew KC Pils, we do a fresh propagation with our lager yeast that begins in our lab.

Two yeast questions! I love it! Let's dork out! We hold our yeast strain library in slants in a -85 C freezer in our lab as well as in an off-site lab as a backup. Both freezers are kept securely locked. I know this because I once got it in my head that I could use our super deep freeze to make Dippin' Dots, you know, the "ice cream of the future" since 1988. Go figure. This plan was (and honestly should have been) shut down hard. I'm still holding out hope that our microbiologist will let me cook a turkey in the autoclave.

I LOVE carnitas. Whenever I come back to Kansas City after being away for a work trip, my family goes out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I line my corn tortillas with a bit of guacamole and pico before loading them up with beans, rice and super tender/juicy pork. I know no one would want to drink carnitas beer, but I would. I probably should have buried this answer in the middle of my Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday answers, but here it is!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - October 25th, 2017

The barrels used to aged Requiem for a Pancake were handled and filled in the same manner as full-size barrels, but given their size, it was a bit more tedious process than filling regular whiskey/wine barrels. There was a quicker infusion due to the fact that the rye whiskey maple syrup barrels were honeycomb barrels. Increased internal surface area results in a much faster exchange between the oak and the beer.

Saison Brett with whatever's on the plate. It's just such a perfect food beer. I dig pairings that feature beers with fluffy/airy, effervescent carbonation because they really scrub the palate clean and prepare it to taste the next bite of food like it's the first bite. If I had to get specific and move away from my all-time favorite BLVD beer, I'd say one of my favorite pairings I've experienced locally is Pale Ale with Howard's pork soup at The Rieger. It's just plain magical.

This is going to sound like an oversimplification of the "process," but our goal when selecting a collaboration partner is to work with cool people who make great beer. Selfishly, we also enjoy working with breweries we feel can teach us about new ingredients/processes so we walk away having learned from the project. For the most part, our collaborations have developed organically from having a good time over beers with folks from other breweries. Here's a quick excerpt from my Brewer's Blog post announcing Collaboration No. 7 - Oak-Aged Lager:

Our friendship with Arizona Wilderness can be traced back to the second year of Boulevardia’s Taps & Tastes Experience. Given the complex nature of hosting breweries that don’t currently distribute to the state of Missouri, they were unable to pour their beer during the fest, but still attended as our guests to enjoy the weekend. The Arizona Wilderness boys (a way in which they often refer to themselves) became particularly smitten with Steven Pauwels (and who came blame them, really?) during the weekend and it’s safe to say the feeling was mutual. The following year, they were able to pour beer during the festival and impressed attendees (and brewery folks) with their inspired beers that pushed brewing boundaries while celebrating ingredients indigenous to Arizona.

We first met the Creature Comforts crew during a game of bocce ball played in Paso Robles during the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival. Just the right amount of beer (and rosé) had been consumed that we decided to have a friendly wager on the match, our breweries. Fortunately for us, Team Boulevard was victorious and we didn’t have to turn the keys to our brewery over to our new friends from Georgia. In a moment of pure generosity later in the evening, Steven gave them their brewery back. Having become insta-friends, we spent a lot of time chatting, swimming, eating and of course drinking beers with the Creature Comforts folks during the weekend. Known for brewing an impressive range of styles with great technical accuracy, Creature Comforts is best known for their incredibly balanced yet juicy IPA, Tropicalia.

They're showing off? I don't know, man. I'm way too scared to give it a go. I follow the same rules I have for my small roommate: No drinks without lids can go in the car.

It's tough to guess a particular style that I think will be the next trend, but as we've gone so far down the road of "extreme beers" with massive flavor profiles and high ABV, I see a definite return to more drinkable, sessionable beers like pilsner, Kolsch, ESB and pale ale. I don't think craft breweries will (or should) stop making crazy beer, but I think as craft beer becomes something that more of the drinking population gets into, the need for and role of gateway beers will grow. My first craft beer definitely wasn't a 17% whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout with ghost peppers. That does sound cool, though!

I don't know if there's really a wrong Boulevard beer for enjoying in the shower, but I tend to lean towards canned beer when I shower beer. I'm always worried that I'm going to break a bottle in the shower. Sure, I could pour the beer into a plastic cup, but my shower isn't large enough and I'm just not that talented to keep soapy water out of the beer. If pressed to stop rambling and just answer the question, I'd agree with you that American Kolsch is a great choice and that Ginger Lemon or Cranberry Orange Radler might be worthy as well. I'm definitely going with something on the light/refreshing end of the spectrum, but if you can drink Whiskey Barrel Stout or Bourbon Barrel Quad in a steamy shower, you do you, man.

Before I answer this, I want to take a second to recognize how important I feel homebrewing is to the overall success of craft beer. I can't tell you how many folks have told me that the first craft beer they tried was one made by a friend or neighbor. Those who may not be ready or feel comfortable diving into craft beer are offered a free, (hopefully) delicious beer by someone they trust and the light bulb just goes on for them. Seriously, it's such a cool story to hear each time and I hope that everyone who works for a craft brewery realizes how important homebrewers are to our movement.

For getting started, I think the best first move is to seek out homebrewing clubs in your area. There are several great ones in the Kansas City area that welcome new members even if they aren't homebrewing yet. It's a great place to meet like minded folks who dig better beer. Once you're ready to make the leap, more experienced homebrewers are incredibly willing to teach you how to brew, even inviting folks to their homes to assist with a brew day. Another great resource is the American Homebrewers Association. Their website is a wealth of information on homebrewing and can help you find a club in your area. Definitely check them out!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - October 18th, 2017

Oh, man. I wish! I'm a huge fan of Two Jokers and a proud member of #Team2Jokers myself, but it's not scheduled to return in 2018. Two Jokers did have a brief return following a short retirement a couple years ago, but I'm not sure if/when it will return again. While we're not quite ready to start discussing our 2018 release calendar, I can tell you that there are several new beers I'm excited about. Stay tuned!

These questions are similar, but not exactly the same so I'll answer them together. First off, for a style that I personally think deserves more love, I'm going to cop out a bit on naming a specific style in favor of mentioning a "type" of beer that I would like to see more of. While I absolutely love settling down with a complex oak-aged sour beer or a massive whiskey barrel-aged beer, I'm a huge fan of beers that I can just drink without having to put too much thought into it. As someone who spends all day thinking about beer on a completely different level than when I sit down to just drink a beer, I think crisp, refreshing, easy-drinking styles deserve a little more love. I'd like to see more availability and love for styles like Kolsch, pilsner, Belgian-style table beer and low ABV saisons. I love a super dry, low ABV Belgian beer.

As far as a Boulevard beer that I think is underrated, I'd have to go with Unfiltered Wheat Beer and KC Pils. I spend a lot of time reading reviews on Untappd, Beer Advocate and RateBeer as well as tons of beer blogs and other reviews and it's typically the more simple/drinkable styles that receive lower ratings as compared to double IPAs or imperial stouts. I think it's interesting that our most award-winning seasonal (and one of my personal favorite BLVD beers) Zon Belgian-Style Witbier is among our lowest rated beers on Untappd. If you look at other breweries that brew a wide portfolio of beers, you'll see that it's fairly common for their most popular beers to have lower ratings than one-off or limited release beers. I think  scarcity and intensity of flavor cause a bit of a bias on rating sites. The good (or bad) news is that all breweries see similar skews/trends so the playing field is ultimately leveled through normalization of ratings.

It's a pretty big piece of what we do. To me, social media (and Twitter especially) have sort of replaced the telephone for a lot of folks. Want to know what's on tap at a beer bar? Tweet them! Curious when the next BLVD beer drops? Tweet us or send a Facebook message. Social media isn't only for sharing news and generating excitement about our beers and brewery happenings. It's also a great listening tool if you know how to sift through it all to find valuable information. I know that our social media folks read every comment, mention and message they receive. Personally, I do the same with my social media feeds. It's definitely very important!

Here's an excerpt from a Brewer's Blog post we recently shared announcing the return of Nutcracker Ale. I think it does a good job of addressing your question, Sam. Definitely hit me up on Twitter if this spurs any questions.

"A showcase of spicy Chinook hops, Nutcracker Ale is best classified as a winter warmer ale. Arguably English in origin, more traditional examples of the style, Nutcracker included, are not spiced while some iterations are spiced following the wassail tradition, often including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Dating back to its inception, Nutcracker Ale has never been spiced, but the zesty character of the Chinook hops often leads folks to believe they’re drinking a spiced beer.

With just shy of 40 IBUs, Nutcracker Ale leans heavily on Chinook hops for bold flavor and aroma, but the malt base is quite robust featuring layers of complexity provided by a blend of two-row pale malt, Amber 50, Cara 300, Munich malt and just a touch of malted wheat. This complexity is deepened by additions of golden brown sugar and dark brown sugar midway through the boil. Nutcracker Ale is hopped with Magnum, Chinook and Cascade on the brewhouse and dry-hopped with Chinook just before the end of fermentation."

Six-packs of year-round Smokestack Series beers should be on Kansas City area shelves starting this week or next. It's tough to nail down a firm release date as it's not necessarily a new beer we're talking about. As retailers sell through their four-pack inventory, you'll see six-packs showing up. Timing will vary based on location, but we’ll see the transition happening this fall nationwide. You can help by purchasing any and all four-packs you see left on the shelf. Thanks in advance!

We used to use twist off bottle caps, but switched to pry off crowns back in April of 2012. Here's the blog post we shared when we announced the switch:

The next time you open a Boulevard beer you might notice the iconic brewery image has been removed from the bottle cap and replaced with a new message: “Pry-Off Cap-Use Opener.”

Why remove the twist from our bottles? It is quite simple. Pry-off caps are more effective at keeping out oxygen, one of the main enemies of maintaining excellent beer flavor. They also assist with maintaining correct carbonation levels throughout the recommended beer shelf life.

We've taken several steps remind you about the switch. In addition to the bottle cap design change, you'll initially see stickers on six, twelve and twenty-pack cartons of all Boulevard heritage brands, informing you to use a bottle opener.

Prior to this change, only Boulevard Pilsner and the brewery’s Smokestack Series 12-ounce beers were sealed with a pry-off crown. Now, the only bottles not capped with this type of top are the 750mL bottles in the Smokestack Series, which continue to be corked and caged.

We hope you enjoy this enhancement to your experience opening one of Boulevard's fresh,  flavorful beers in the near future. Cheers!

P.S. Homebrewers, you're welcome. Now you can reuse your Boulevard bottles for your own beers, but don't forget to drop them off at a Ripple Glass bin when you're done with them!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - October 11th, 2017

With several beer events happening over the past few weeks and the Great American Beer Festival in Denver last week, I've been an absolute bum about responding to your #WWKW questions. To make up for lost time, I’m answering questions from last week, this week and some unanswered questions from the beginning of Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday. Here we go!

I totally admitted it above. I’m a bum. I’ll be better. I promise.

While we’re certainly aware of the haze craze, we don’t currently have plans to brew/release a New England IPA just yet. We have played around with a few variations on an Unfiltered IPA that sees massive dry-hopping additions and less filtration than usual, but we haven’t quite jumped to the super juicy side of things. While I could ramble on about the challenges a regional brewery faces regarding this style, I feel like the folks at Avery Brewing did a great job of explaining things. Check it out. Definitely let me know if you have any questions. I will say that once we complete our Kansas City canning hall, we’ll have a little more flexibility when it comes to packaging different styles and new beers.

Click here to check out Avery Brewing’s blog post.

Oh, man. You nailed it. I’m a massive fan of adding a touch of rye whiskey or a little citrus vodka to our radlers. It’s been a couple years, but we co-hosted a beer and whiskey pairing with our friends from Julep in Westport. We selected the beers and let Beau and Keely select whiskeys that they felt would match up nicely with the BLVD beers. While I’m totally blanking on the specific pairings they chose, I’ve always enjoyed sitting down with a glass of Rye on Rye or Rye on Rye on Rye with a small (subject to interpretation) pour of Templeton Rye alongside it. I’ve heard from several folks that they dig a shot of nice rum with Dark Truth or Whiskey Barrel Stout. Finally, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve added a touch (again, subject to interpretation) of tequila and a bit of lime juice to a can of Ginger Lemon Radler to create a RadlerRita. If it tastes good, drink it!

While we’re still in the process of finalizing our 2018 release schedule, we’re going to change things up a bit next year. As opposed to sharing our entire calendar all at once, we plan to focus on a small portion of the year's beer releases as they approach, giving us time and space to truly highlight and tell the stories of some of the exciting beers we plan to brew. Stay tuned for more information!

Wow! I wish this were true. Well, maybe it is, but just a little bit. Part of my role as ambassador brewer is creating/maintaining a stash of kegs and cases of Smokestack Series limited release and seasonal beers. While I wish I could keep the beer to myself, I pull from the stash to send fancy beer out to beer festivals, tastings, dinners and events that warrant sending something a little extra. Next time you see us really throw down at Parkville Microfest or Westport Strong Ale Fest, it’s likely several beers came from the stash.

I love you, Wallace Wilson.

We work with Mendel Segal of the Vaad HaKashruth of Kansas City to certify Boulevard beers that qualify. For more info, please head here.  Mendel is also quite active on Twitter and I’m sure he’d be happy to discuss the process of kosher certification should you have specific questions.

We have clearly marked kegs that we use for Saison Brett, Love Child blends or any beer that has active acid-producing bacteria or wild yeast in it at the time of packaging. These kegs are only filled with sour/funky beer and will never hold “clean beer” like Pale Ale or Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

When it’s time to clean them, we typically do so on days when the keg line isn’t running. Since we’re cleaning kegs that have potential beer spoilers (if the wild yeast or lactobacillus were to end up in “clean beer”), we top up our cleaning/sanitation chemicals as we would before any normal run, but we’re sure to dump/clean the chemical holding tanks following cleaning to ensure no bacteria/wild yeast remain on the line to potentially end up in the next day’s keg run during keg cleaning cycles. In addition to these procedures, we also perform two cleaning cycles on brett/sour kegs. Following this protocol, we’re able to clean/sanitize the kegs in such a way that our lab folks don’t detect any wild yeast or bacteria in the rinse water samples we pull following the cleaning run.

When filling kegs with sour/funky beer, we handle the beer at an off-site warehouse, the same location we use for filling Love Child, Saison Brett, Changeling or other sour/funky beers. Kegs are filled by hand from bright tanks dedicated to holding sour/funky beer.

I feel like I need to work in sour/funky one more time. Sour/funky.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - September 6th, 2017

Within around three to four hours from the brewery, an area we affectionately refer to as The Donut, Unfiltered Wheat Beer has been our top selling beer for over 20 years followed closely by Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and Pale Ale. As you move further outside The Donut, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale becomes our lead dog and is by far our most popular beer. A major contributing factor (besides how delicious Tank 7 is) for this is that we typically lead with more esoteric/higher end beers in markets outside the midwest. This is the case for a couple of reasons: Tank 7 and the rest of our Smokestack Series beers travel well and have longer shelf lives than beers like KC Pils or Unfiltered Wheat Beer. Also, beers like Tank 7, Saison Brett or Rye on Rye on Rye are more heavily differentiated from common, ubiquitous styles like Pale Ale or Bully! Porter. They tend to stand out in a crowd. This isn't to say that Pale Ale (one of my personal favorites) couldn't compete or isn't a fantastic beer, but given the option, most folks in California might choose to drink Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale in the same way that you can simply order "a Pale Ale" in Kansas City and know that you'll receive our beer without specifying a brewery.

While we're on the topic of regionally specific portfolios, the question often arises, "How do you pick which beers to send to (my lovely state)?" To determine this, we work with our local sales folks as well as distributor and retail partners in the given region to choose the lineup we feel has the best chance of being successful as well as selecting beers that appeal to dominant consumer preferences in that region. For example, it's no surprise that Ginger Lemon Radler and Tropical Pale Ale do well in Florida. These beers scream, "Take me to the beach, dude!"

Your timing is spot on, Kyle. The updated Sample Twelve pack featuring American Kolsch and Bully! Porter alongside two new Tasting Room beers is shipping from our warehouse this week and will be on shelves in the Greater Kansas City Area over the next couple of weeks with other regions that receive the sampler to follow soon. It's tough to nail down a hard release date with our Sample Twelve as retail locations typically receive the new sampler as they deplete current inventory of the previous sampler. As far as the two new beers that will join the lineup, I'm going to make you wait just a little bit as we're planning to announce the new beers very soon. A small hint: If you've visited our Beer Hall in the past few months, you'll have already tasted test batches of the two new Tasting Room beers.

While some folks might dismiss it as beer geek hooey, the type, shape and condition of the glass you reach for when drinking your favorite beer absolutely has an effect on the drinking experience. If you head to any beer's profile on our website, you'll note that we make a glassware recommendation based on the style of each beer. Different glass architecture results in various flavor/aroma active compounds being showcased or inhibited. I have no doubt that I could ramble on for several paragraphs about how each style of glass benefits each beer, but I'll keep it simple and say that if you're looking for one catch-all glass that's going to up your sensory experience when enjoying beer, grab a nice tulip glass. The wide bowl shape of the glass provides greater surface area for the beer to spread out and release aroma compounds that inform a TON of what your brain tells you that you're tasting in the beer. There are just a few basic flavors (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami) that are enhanced and made more specific by what your nose tells your brain. Pouring beer into a glass versus drinking from the can or bottle is absolutely essential (when possible) to getting greater enjoyment out of beer. And while I'll never judge someone for enjoying beer from frosty/frozen glasses (because I've been known to do it myself), it's not the best way to drink beer if you're looking to get the most out of the flavor and aroma of the beer. Any time a beer is served very cold (35 F and below) it's more difficult for your taste buds to pick up flavors and the aromas come across as muted. It would be like listening to your favorite song with a piece of cardboard covering the speaker. Yeah, it's that same song, but you're not quite getting all of it to your ear drums due to the masking of the paper.

Having said all of that, the best way to enjoy your favorite beer is in your favorite glass.

I LOVED both versions of TEST - Dry-hopped Porter we poured in the Beer Hall and Tasting Room so I'm right there with you. While we're still in the process of nailing down our 2018 release calendar, I have a feeling you'll be quite happy during the first part of the year. I've said too much.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - August 30th, 2017

Earlier this week, we announced that Whiskey Barrel Stout was joining our year-round Smokestack Series lineup in four-packs of twelve-ounce bottles. As of this minute, we're shooting for a limited draft release on Monday, September 11th followed by four-packs on shelves beginning on Tuesday, September 12th. Regions that currently see Bourbon Barrel Quad should expect to see Whiskey Barrel Stout in the coming weeks. Due to the nature of three-tier distribution, we're not able to confirm launch dates outside the Greater Kansas City Area. Your best bet is to give your favorite local spots a call to see if they know if/when they'll receive Whiskey Barrel Stout.

Originally on the 2017 release calendar as Upper Crust Fruit Tart, Jam Band Berry Ale was released exclusively on draft on July 10th. We've heard that kegs blew rather quickly, but you might still be able to find some around town. We'd suggest heading to Untappd.com to see where folks are checking in. Happy hunting!

In case you missed the big news, we recently broke ground on an expansion at the brewery to build a canning hall in Kansas City! Bringing everything back to Kansas City will give us greater control and flexibility as it relates to our canned beers. While we're definitely planning on expanding the current canned lineup, we don't have any definite plans to share just yet, but we're very aware that folks would like to see KC Pils in cans. Stay tuned for official news as we get closer to completing the project!

One word, man: Beers.

While we distribute Boulevard beers to 39 states, Washington D.C. and a few European countries, we don't currently ship any beers to the state of Nevada at all. We've been very public about our desire to continue expanding our distribution footprint, but aren't at a point where we're ready to confirm new states. In the meantime, you might look into online retailers who are able to ship beer your way.

I miss Lunar Ale too, but it's unlikely the beer will make a return any time soon. And yes, I'm totally willing to share a recipe for it! Here you go:

Malt
Pale malt – 61.5%
Dehusked Carafa II - .9%
Wheat – 11.9%
Malted Wheat – 11.9%
Cara 300 – 6.5%
Cara 50 – 1.9%
Amber 50 – 5.6%

Mash Schedule
Mash in at 52 C and rest for 7 minutes
53 C – 10 minutes
63 C – 25 minutes
73 C – 15 minutes
Mash off at 76 C

Hops
Bravo – 3.8 IBU 10 minutes after beginning of boil
CTZ – 8.- IBU “   “
Tradition – 1.5 IBU “    “

We target a beginning of boil gravity of 11.1 and achieve 11.6 Plato by the end of the boil. The wort is cooled to 19 C and pitched with our house Belgian yeast strain (high gravity Trappist). We ferment at 19 C until we reach 3.4 Plato. At that point, we temp up to 23C for the remainder of fermentation. Final gravity is 2.6.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - August 23rd, 2017

While we aren't quite ready to share specific info on the style of the beer or a confirmed release date just yet, I can tell you that the next Brewhouse One Series beer is currently in barrels and just about ready to be bottled. Stay tuned!

I'll talk about Jam Band with you all day! I feel like this is my opportunity to declare my love for Jam Band as well. When we first started working on Jam Band, I had a pretty good idea that I'd enjoy it, but now that it's out in the world, I absolutely love it! One of the things I really dig about it is that all of the fruit flavor and aroma comes from 100% real fruit juice. It's crazy bright and super refreshing.

Since Jam Band is a draft-only release it's tough for us to know which locations still have the beer on tap so I'd suggest checking out Untappd.com to see where folks are checking in near you. While we haven't 100% confirmed our 2018 lineup at this time, I have a feeling you're going to be very happy next year...

It's likely that most bars in the area have poured through their allocations, but we did release Tequila Barrel Lime Gose back in late April. I'm fairly optimistic that Tequila Barrel Lime Gose will return in 2018, but I don't have any official news to share. If she digs low ABV, sessionable tart/sour beers, definitely check out our new Berliner Weisse that dropped near the end of July.

The major difference is that the Riesling juice hasn't been fermented so it's definitely not wine. The TTB has rules/guidelines about what you can/can't add to beer during the brewing process. Adding the grape juice to the beer before fermentation provides similar character to what you'd experience drinking a Riesling, but it's not technically fortifying the beer like what would happen if you added finished wine to the beer. Learn more about Collaboration No. 7 - Oak-Aged Lager here.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - August 16th, 2017

The shelf life for Bob's '47 bottles is 120 days. That's a little shorter than our ales since we don't bottle condition our lagers. The secondary fermentation that occurs in the bottle during bottle conditioning results in lower total packaged oxygen levels which helps keep the beer from staling for a longer period of time. If you're set on pushing it a bit and holding past the best by date, it's important to note that beer doesn't "go bad" like food does. While Bob's might not taste as good in late December as it does in August, you're not putting yourself in imminent danger by drinking a beer past the best by date.

Also, for future reference, here's a blog post discussing the codes on our bottles, cans, keg rings and cases:

Updated Packaging and Best By Dates

You're absolutely correct. Water, and its quality, are super important in brewing! Speaking broadly, Boulevard Brewing Company is a no-landfill facility. This means that absolutely zero waste produced by the brewery ends up in a landfill. We recycle everything we can, send organic materials off to compost, sell our spent grain to local farmers and divert anything else to an area cement/aggregate producer. As far as doing our best to close the loop on water, we divert water from the ice water tank that's used to chill down wort as it heads to the fermenter back to our hot liquor tank for use on the brewhouse during mashing, sparing and rinsing brewhouse vessels. We capture water vapor produced during brewing and divert it to our boiler and hot water used to heat up wort as its transferred to the wort kettle returns to the bottom of energy storage tank from which it came. In addition to these processes, our engineers are always looking for other ways to make our use of water more efficient.

Nope, but it's fun to! As the craft beer scene evolves and expands, we're very anti-rules about what we'll brew or won't brew. Years ago, our FAQ noted that we'd never put beer in cans or brew a fruit beer, but here we are doing both and loving it! The really cool thing about craft beer is that there's such an amazing range of flavors out there that there truly is a beer for everyone. You'll be happy to know that we brewed 30+ beers this year that did not contain fruit. Personal preference is, well, personal, but I'd encourage you to keep tasting new beers. Who knows? You might find a fruited beer you love.

Cask ale isn't so much a type or style of beer as it is a packaging method. Technically, any style of beer could be cask conditioned. If you want to get really hardcore, check out CAMRA's website for their take on real/cask ale. For the purposes of simplification of this discussion, breweries in the US refer to cask ale as beer that's been pulled from a fermentation/conditioning vessel and then conditioned in a firkin/cask/keg. The process is similar to the process we employ for bottle conditioning, but it typically results in a more subtle/softer carbonation. At this time, we don't cask condition any of our beers and don't have plans to.

For me, the best part of working in a brewery is the people and access to great beer. I've been lucky enough to spend the past 11+ years working in three different breweries and have always found myself surrounded by creative, passionate, fun/beer-loving folks. Being able to take home a six-pack of fresh, delicious beer at the end of the day doesn't hurt. As for the worst parts side of thing, I don't know that there's anything particularly bad that I could categorize as being the "worst part" of working in a brewery. Part of my job includes traveling to beer events around the country and I realize how fortunate I am to get to do that, but there are definitely times where I miss my family, my dogs and my bed.

It's not terribly often that we have a big miss on the brewhouse, but I remember when we brewed the first batches of Two Jokers Double Wit, a now-retired sour Belgian-stye witbier. In addition to the traditional coriander and orange peel used to spice witbiers, we added in lavender, cardamom and peppercorns. When we're working on a new IPA, it's easy to calculate IBUs using a formula, but there isn't exactly a lavender quotient or cardamom ratio to use so we were just winging it. We tasted the first batch and realized we waaaaay overshot it on the cardamom and lavender. I think I described it as tasting and smelling like "cheap purple conditioner." That's the brewhouse "learning opportunity" that sticks out the most to me during my time at Boulevard.


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - August 9th, 2017

While we're not quite ready to share beer specifics or a launch date, we're getting very close to bottling our next Brewhouse One release. Stay tuned for details in the coming weeks!

Oh, man. I'm lucky to be involved with the Taps & Tastes portion of Boulevardia and helping to create the brewery lineup each year, but I'm not involved too much on the music lineup side of things. I'm a big country and bluegrass fan so if I were to dream super big, I'd love to see Dolly Parton at Boulevardia. That would blow my mind.

Delicious beer has no season! Honestly though, August/September is usually the time that breweries release their fall seasonals. While it might be a little warm at the beginning of August for you, we see lots of folks ordering dark/roasty beers throughout the summer in our Beer Hall. Given how well received Tasting Room - Milk Stout was, we didn't want to wait too long to reward folks who reached out to us expressing how much they loved the beer and wanted to see it as a regular release.

Our barrel crew and microbiologist have toyed around with harvesting yeast from the skins of different fruits, but we don't have a solid program going at this point. We have the ability to isolate microbes, but we'd like to invest in a primer for our PCR that would allow us to identify specific yeast strains before moving forward with actually pitching them into any of the vessels (barrels, stainless tanks, foeder) in our sour program. We did inoculate Berliner Weisse with lactobacillus harvested from unpasteurized kegs of Liefmans.

I hate to take things to a dark place, but swimming in a pool of beer isn't a good idea as your movements would cause carbon dioxide to break out of solution making it quite difficult, possibly impossible to breathe. The Google Image search results for "swimming in beer" are fantastic, though!

Call me a homer or a company man, but I honestly don't feel that we've released an objectively bad beer. Sure, we know and accept that everyone won't love every beer we brew, but since beer drinkers have such diverse palates and crave new, innovative flavor combinations, most of our beers resonate with at least a few people. I will say that I think the weirdest beer we've made was Za'Tart, a one-off collaboration with Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing Company. Za'Tart was a kettle soured rustic saison that we spiced with za'atar, a Middle Eastern herb/spice blend. I thought it was a really cool, interesting beer, but those who didn't like it referred to it as "liquid pizza." I thought that was a compliment!

As far as the best beer one-off beer I feel we've made, I think I'd have to go with the original Savor release of Terra Incognita. We worked with Sierra Nevada to brew a virgin barrel-aged dark farmhouse ale that was inoculated with brettanomyces and a small percentage of sour beer at bottling. Years later, the bottles I've been lucky enough to encounter have been amazing. With a beer like that, each bottle is sort of a tiny fermenter so I've seen fascinating differences bottle to bottle. Super cool!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - August 2nd, 2017

Both Berliner Weisse and Tough Kitty Milk Stout debuted this week. While Tough Kitty was born from Tasting Room - Milk Stout, we haven't had a Berliner Weisse nor a milk stout in our full lineup before this week. You'll also see Bundle Up Barleywine and City Market Cider later this fall, both first iterations on those styles.

Sorry, we don't. We're happy to share full recipe information for any of our beers, but we don't share/sell our proprietary yeast strains. We'll make recommendations on commercially available strains that will approximate the house characters we see from each. Email info@boulevard.com or hit us up on Twitter.

We currently have TEST - Unfiltered IPA #3 and TEST - Oak-Aged Strong Ale on tap in the Beer Hall with a new variation on the unfiltered IPA coming soon.

Ideas for new beers and names for them come from a variety of sources. No matter which department folks are in, anyone is welcome to pitch a new beer or send name ideas to the folks responsible for making the final call. With names, one of the first "tests" we go through is what we refer to as call-ability. Is this a name you could shout out across a loud bar and be understood? Is it something you'd want to say out loud? We also need to be sure that the name isn't currently in use by another brewery or alcoholic beverage producer. We usually start with a simple Google or Untappd search and then check out the public COLA registry search. When it gets to the final stages, members of the marketing team will present names to brewery leaders for vetting/approval.

This goes way back to when I first started at Boulevard in 2008. I miss the original Smokestack Series Saison, Tank 7's predecessor. It was such a beautiful, simple beer. I think it may have been a bit before its time in the Midwest, unfortunately.

While it's no secret that we're working on installing a canning line adjacent to the brewery that will allow us more freedom to expand our current canned lineup, we don't have any official news to share just yet. As for the Sazerac inspired beer, we're in the process of finalizing our 2018 lineup, but I have a good feeling you'll be happy...

Our brewing and lab teams have played around with a couple variations on radlers, but we haven't landed on something we feel as strongly about as we do both Ginger Lemon Radler and Cranberry Orange Radler. Have any great ideas? We're all ears!


Whatcha Wanna Know? Wednesday - July 26th, 2017

We drink a lot of beer. No, seriously. Whenever we're out and about visiting new markets or just trying beer around the Greater Kansas City Area, we keep our eyes (and palates) open to see which styles craft beer drinkers are getting excited about as well as styles we personally dig. With American Kolsch, Boulevard Brewmaster Steven Pauwels saw an opportunity to make an easy-drinking, super sessionable, beer flavored beer. As folks who spend all day every day thinking about beer on a highly technical level, it's nice to just unplug and drink a beer that doesn't require a ton of thought, a beer meant for kicking back and relaxing. That's what American Kolsch is to us and we hope you feel the same.

Oh, man. That would be amazing, right? Being mentioned alongside Sam Mellinger is an honor as I'm a big fan of his work. I feel like I've shared enough Saison Brett and Rye on Rye on Rye with Sam that we should be good, but it might not hurt to watch my back.

While we might tinker with seasonal or limited release beer from time to time, we honestly don't change beers like Pale Ale or Unfiltered Wheat Beer too often. It's actually sort of the reverse. Since beer is brewed using agricultural ingredients that are subject to change harvest to harvest, we alter recipes to keep the final beer looking/smelling/tasting the same so the glass of Tank 7 you drink next week will be the same as the one you had a month ago. If we do decide to make a major change to a recipe, we're always super transparent about it and let folks know before the change will occur.

Kim who?

In a perfect world, we'd suggest storing all of our beers in a refrigerator or cooler until you're ready to drink them, but thanks to bottle conditioning, our beers remain stable for a longer period of time than if they were not bottle conditioned. Some of our bigger beers like Rye on Rye on Rye, The Sixth Glass or Imperial Stout are a little more sturdy and can handle being aged at cellar to room temperature, but we'd definitely keep more delicate or hop forward beers like Unfiltered Wheat Beer or Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale cold until you're ready to drink them. If you really want to nerd out, check out some of Dr. Charlie Bamforth's thoughts and studies on aging beer at different temperatures.

Yes! While we don't have any firm details to share just yet, we definitely have some cool beers in the works. We've recently expanded our barrel-aging/special projects team to include a few of our brewers. Led by Lead Brewer - Barrel-Aging Ryan McNeive, the guys are going to crank out some stellar beers in the coming months!