Beer Review 0357: Boulevard Irish Ale
Perhaps a little late to the punch on this one, but we’re going to sample it even though it’s past St. Patrick’s Day.
Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, Missouri) produce their Irish Ale, a Red Ale, each January-March. Brewed with six types of pale and roasted barley malts, the brew is crafted as a tribute to Ireland’s legendary red ales. The ABV (alcohol by volume) is 5.8% and the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) register 30.
Boulevard started as a traditional Bavarian brewhouse on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City. The first beer made, in 1989, was Boulevard Pale Ale, and John McDonald (Boulevard’s founder) delivered the first keg of it to a local restaurant. In 2006, the brewery made major expansions, increasing capacity to 600,000 barrels, which is a huge jump from the mere 6,000 barrels in Mr. McDonald’s original business plan!
The pour delivered a beautiful beer, especially for this style; the head was large, creamy and lasting, producing very pillowy suds. The color was red that had some amber and brown hues to it depending on the angle you held the glass to light. This beer, like all of Boulevard’s beers, is bottle conditioned, so there is a touch of cloudiness to the body, but no significant particles or sediment. Lacing was excellent.
The nose had really sweet bread malt mixed with plenty of caramel up front. There’s a light floral hop component and a gentle spice; the yeast is here, giving the aroma some fresh dough. While not brewed with spices, I detected some allspice and cinnamon, especially as the liquid warmed. And way back in the background, some toasted white bread. Irish Ale is extremely pleasant to the nose.
Hitting the palate, the initial flavors are thin caramel, sweet bread, and floral hops, which changes to more of an earthy malt in the middle with a touch of spice. The finish starts with burnt toasted bread, some cinnamon, and a light bitterness that dries out the mouth. It seems like the IBU level of 30 is a bit low — this isn’t overly bitter, but it feels like more than 30 IBUs. I found Irish Ale to be medium-bodied, with medium, foamy mouthfeel.
Classic in style on appearance and aroma, non-traditional in taste. In my opinion, the taste was a disappointment versus the aroma. I was surprised by the earthen flavors in this beer — almost like topsoil — and the bitterness mixed with toasted bread makes for an interesting combination. Red Ales tend not to be one of my favorite styles, but this is a solid offering and it was much better than I expected. Very good.
Boulevard Irish Ale, 87 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.