It was a serendipitous occasion. I was at the Four Seasons Beer Store at the exact same time that a sales rep from the Boulevard Brewery was discussing selections with the owner. I was called over for a recommendation. I immediately cited Boulevard Irish Ale (on the recommendation of a long time reader) and a new one I had read about, their Chocolate Ale.
A week later the Irish Ale had arrived and I walked out of the store with a case of it. (The Chocolate Ale is coming soon.) Tonight is the night I taste the Irish and I’ll be trying really hard to remember the Irish ale that I had brewed for a homebrew contest and won 1st place. But alas, that was 2 years ago.
I remembered one guy who tasted my beer saying that it was “ridiculously smooth.” The beer was nicely malty and had 5.3% alcohol. Brewing to style and not to alcohol levels.
In March, our homebrew club will stage an Irish Red competition and my two sons each made a batch using the extract brewing process. I in turn, gave each of them a sixpack of the Boulevard beer from the case for later comparison.
I’ve been dying to try this beer since one of the reader’s on the site recommended it. Tonight was the night.
I chose the old Guinness glass and uncapped the first bottle. Here we go.
Pouring the beer revealed a light tan-colored liquid at the neck but a nice orange-brown in the glass. The foam rose up big and strong and had a light beige color. Carbonation was vigorous composed of all sizes of bubbles. The aroma was very slight.
The first sip was delightful. Nice and tasty. It had a light-medium body, a good malty backbone and a rather crisp finish. There was a nice slight sweetness as the way through the sip. There was no hop bitterness at the swallow meaning the IBUs are low. The Boulevard website states the beer has 3O IBUs. Surprisingly, they used 5 different varieties of hops to make up the 30.
I liked the way that brewers controlled the flavor of the dark malts and the chocolate malts by not letting it get out of control. Never once did this beer dip into the porter or stout zone.
The beer was remarkably smooth and just flowed right down the gullet. If any one ingredient carried the show, it was dark malts. The malts had no roastiness like a stout and was not as bold as a porter. It’s a great after work beer that put a smile on your face.
In comparing it to a brown ale, the tastes would be very similar. But this Irish ale seems to have a bit more body and great malty flavors. There are similarities between Boulevard’s and Coors’ Killian’s Irish red. The differences, however, are huge. Boulevard’s obviously tastes better and displays a well thought out brewing process. Also it has about 1% more alcohol which will help your mood and state of mind.
I don’t remember that much of my beer to give an honest comparison to this Boulevard beer. It was too long ago but I’d say that my beer tasted better than Killian’s and probably comes close to Boulevard’s. But not that close.
At 5.8%, Boulevard may not be in theory a session beer, but if you sit down with one, the session may encompass many more to follow. They are just that drinkable. The subtle sweetness and brawn malty flavors will take you away. The bad part is that this beer is only available for three months at the beginning of the year. Chances are pretty good that all of the Boulevard Irish ale will be drunk before St. Patrick’s Day.
If you’d like a great tasting beer without fighting the roastiness or alcohol levels, this is the best. Laid back drinking with enough taste to make you smile. You’ll remember this beer for quite some time. Try it this year if you find it. If you do, you will buy it again next year.
Style: Irish Red Ale
Taste: Slightly sweet, mellow and delicious.
Smoothness: Casanova in a bottle.
Drinkability: They’ll go fast.
Bang for the buck: On a par with other craft beers.
Amount paid: $9.99 per sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Yes. For sure.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sorry. She went to bed early. She probably would have liked it.)
On location at Boulevard Brewing