Now presenting a review of Boulevard’s first beer, the Pale Ale. I was surprised to learn that the Pale Ale is the original Boulevard beer – “Boulevard” is practically synonymous with “Unfiltered Wheat” in the Midwest, and so I assumed that the Unfiltered Wheat had come first. The Unfiltered Wheat isn’t the first – it’s merely the most popular craft beer in the Midwest (suck it, Goose Island! 😀 ). Anyway, this is the Pale Ale. I’ll do the Wheat soon.
Name: Pale Ale
Origin: Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO
Style: American Pale Ale
I drank this: on tap at Paddy O’Quigley’s in Leawood, KS
First of all, if you haven’t been to Paddy O’Quigley’s, it’s an experience. Generally a good one, but one odd enough that it will be spawning a new blog segment known as “Better Know a Bar.” I’ll be beginning that tomorrow (or tonight, if I’m not getting any other writing done).
Now, for the Boulevard Pale Ale. This is an American Pale Ale rather than an English Pale Ale, meaning that it has a much hoppier character than the Schlafly Pale Ale I reviewed earlier in the week. Trying both is an exercise in remembering that “Pale Ale” refers to the color more than it does style – to get a real idea of what style of beer you’re drinking when you’re drinking a pale ale, it’s really helpful to have a nationality slapped onto the label. Without it, you’re flying blind.
Whereas the Schlafly Pale Ale nose is predominantly malt, the Boulevard Pale Ale is predominantly hop. The malt presence in the scent only comes if you breathe it in more deeply. Once you notice it, it’s definitely there, but you probably won’t notice it until you think about it. This beer is a lovely clear and bright brownish orange color, but retains no head whatsoever. I had about a quarter-inch of head when I got it which disappeared after roughly three sips.
The Boulevard Pale Ale is nicely balanced. The hops are bright and citrus-y with a hint of pine (I think the recipe is pretty heavy on the Cascades, which is ALWAYS a good thing in my book). The malts are light to medium in color, faintly sweet, and strong enough that they’re not hidden by the hops. The carbonation is pretty light. It’s not an overwhelming beer. It’s in the category of “easy beer to throw back while you’re talking or watching sports.” Especially watching sports: something about this beer begs for a pile of buffalo wings.
This isn’t the bestest pale ale I’ve ever had, but it’s still really pretty good. What’s honestly impressive to me is its age: this beer was first brewed in 1989 (making it old enough to drink itself now – happy 21st birthday, Pale Ale!), and I gather (from what I can tell on the website, anyway, since I sure as hell wasn’t drinking beer at 9 years old) that the recipe hasn’t changed since then. And it shouldn’t. It’s a great gateway beer – it’s interesting enough that it’s a good way to broaden the palates of those who’d like to move on from yellow water lite “beers,” but it isn’t trying to prove anything* either. That’s what the Boulevard Double-Wide IPA is for.
*I think here of the label for the Stone Arrogant Bastard, which very clearly *is* trying to prove something. It’d be obnoxious, but the AB lives up to the claims on the label. More on that when I review it.