Beer Review 0440: Boulevard 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer

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Consider it a marriage of two of today’s popular brewing styles — the IPA and the Wheat Ale.

Boulevard Brewing Company 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, the founder, delivered the first keg of it to a local restaurant. Fast forward to 2006, when the brewery made major expansions, increasing from a modest 6,000 barrels to the aforementioned 600,000 barrels. Quite a jump!

Boulevard have been distributing here in North Carolina for almost a year — I’ve reviewed their Unfiltered Wheat Beer (their most popular offering) and wasn’t too impressed, giving it 78 points. I have also sampled their Single-Wide IPA, which I enjoyed very much, awarding it 91 points. Perhaps 80-Acre will indeed be a nice combination of the two beers. Brewed with both unmalted and malted wheat, the hop bill is impressive, offering Bravo, Zeus, Summit, Cascade, and Nelson Sauvin. Despite all those hops, IBUs (International Bitterness Units) only hit 20, and the ABV (alcohol by volume) is 5.5%.

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Pouring stirred an average size head, frothy in nature and composed of both large and tightly compacted dense bubbles. The head was bright white and looked great atop a yellow-golden sunny beer. The body was hazy, almost cloudy, and with the yeast poured in, a light amount of particles and sediment distributed in the beer. Lacing was excellent, with thick patches of foam left clinging to the glass. A very nice looking drink.

On the nose, we’ve got what smells like a typical wheat beer with just a tad more hops added. The traditional yeast aromas of clove and bubblegum struck me first, along with grainy, straw-like wheat. The hops are in the background, and they are herbal tea-like, with orange and grapefruit being the stars. A peppery spice finishes off the aroma nicely.

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Taking a sip, and there’s lots of grainy wheat, and some weaker notes of clove and bubblegum. A mild kick of orange peel and grapefruit round things out, and these flavors pretty much continue throughout the taste, finishing with a very gentle bitterness but otherwise clean and refreshing. There’s a slight lingering taste of bubblegum and wheat mixed with herbal citrus. Light-bodied, 80-Acre is thin in the mouth, with a gritty texture when swirled.

This is a good mix of the two styles, indeed, just weak in flavor on both ends. If there were ever a beer I’d love to try an Imperial version of, this is it. But the redeeming quality is, despite lacking knockout flavors, this beer is extremely drinkable and very refreshing, with just enough hops to not be a boring summer wheat drink. I’d keep it in my fridge for the hot days.

Boulevard 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer, 86 points. Price: $8.99 US for a six-pack.

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