Largest American-Owned Brewery in Missouri Visits Cicero’s Beer School
by Eric Griffith and Mimi Griffith
That’s right; Boulevard Brewing Company was the main attraction at Cicero’s this week. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Kansas City Brewery has been around since 1989 and in just the past four years has increased their lineup of beers from 8 to 26 and production is up to 150,000 barrels per year. Once known mainly for their light and easy drinking Wheat Beer, Boulevard now boasts a wide spectrum of beer styles including their well received Smokestack Series.
Laura Dale, the St. Louis market rep for Boulevard, is a well seasoned Beer School instructor and she brought four distinct brews to get the class buzzing.
First up was the Boulevard Pilsner which has been in waiting for 13 years to make an appearance in a Boulevard bottle. This beer is the only one served in a longneck bottle as opposed to the traditional Boulevard stubby. Pilsner is a very light beer in taste, but has just enough hop bitterness to keep you coming back. At 4.8% ABV you can have a few of these gold medal winners.
The next beer, Amber Ale, is described by Laura as a great beer to introduce people to darker beers, especially your friends that claim to not like “dark beer.” Just as the name implies, the beer appears amber in color and is very approachable. The honey and nut flavors grabbed me first and the malts showed more as the beer warms up. There are just enough hops to make it a balanced beer. After 4 years of tweaking this recipe Boulevard finally brought it to market and will make it a year-round offering.
Now we get to the Smokestack Series. For those of you that don’t know about this series, these are the beers that you see in the large 750ml bottles with the caged cork on top. They can be intimidating, but tasting them at Beer School is a great way to find out if you want to take one home. And best of all Laura let us know that the year-round brews will now be available in 4-packs of 12oz bottles. As samples of Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale made the rounds one hand went up, “Laura, is this your favorite beer? Because it’s mine!” That pretty much sums up this 8% ABV hop star. While not everyone will be as excited about the grapefruit flavors and dry peppery finish of Tank 7, we can all agree this is a well-made, interesting ale with a distinct earthiness.
Finally we are ready for dessert. Boulevard’s Dark Truth Stout from the Smokestack Series is an intense, complex beer with chocolate, coffee and dark fruit notes throughout. What more could you want after dinner? With 60 IBUs this was statistically the most bitter beer we tried, but you would never know it with all the malts bringing out fig and crème brulee flavors. But, just like a rich dessert you should eat in moderation, this stout should also be consumed moderately as it carries an ABV of 9.7%
Thank you to Laura Dale for bringing a wonderful range of beers. The diverse flavor profiles offered everyone something they could enjoy this week. So, don’t forget to do your homework and go out and purchase one or more of these Boulevard Beers. See you at Cicero’s next Wednesday. Class dismissed!
If you haven’t seen this video yet, it is a very cool video about Boulevard Beer.
About the Authors – Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!