Beer Review 0534: Boulevard Reboot White IPA

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Every now and then, something is worth repeating. And that’s exactly what Boulevard Brewing Company are doing with their Reboot White IPA, a beer that was originally brewed in a collaboration with Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery in 2011. The initial idea married Boulevard, who love to produce Belgian-style beers, to Deschutes, who have more of a focus on American hops. The beer, then simply called ‘White IPA,’ was brewed by each facility using the same recipe, and released into each distribution network.

Boulevard apparently loved their version of the beer so much that they brewed it again, and it has been released as a 2013 Smokestack Series brew. Slightly tweaked from the original, Reboot White IPA is aged on lemongrass and sage, and tops out at 7.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Boulevard plans to make this a new fall seasonal offering.

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!

Boulevard’s Smokestack Series is the home for big beers in big bottles; experimentation is encouraged. Distribution started about fourteen months ago here in North Carolina, and lots of attention is being placed on the promotion of the Smokestack beers.

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Uncorking and pouring into a glass produced a large, almost huge frothy white head that looked like whipped topping atop the beer. Color of the beer itself was perfectly golden, with a nice hazy body that didn’t have any particles or sediment. Lacing was good, leaving behind a couple of pods of thick foam.

On the nose, the sage is loud but not overwhelming, coupling with some unexpected yeast funk. The overall herbal nature of the hops play right into this, giving off orange peel and lemon; the grain bill is exactly that — grainy, and straw-like. Reboot smells like a live beverage in the glass as all the herbal notes teamed with the earthen yeast really give this beer a punchy, organic aroma. And there are some classic Belgian notes here, with some background pink bubblegum and clove. Interesting.

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Is this an IPA? Most assuredly not — sage and lemongrass greet the tongue, along with a touch of funky yeast that begins to take on a menthol flavor as it warms. The further I got into the beer, the more the initial flavors reminded me of a throat lozenge; it does open up some, providing flavors of orange peel, and fleshy tart lemon, but overall Reboot remains quite focused on the sage, lemongrass, and menthol funkiness. The finish brings on moderate bitterness and a twangy zest that dries out the palate. Described on the side of the bottle are flavors like bubblegum and clove; those simply aren’t here. This beer is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.

This brew really reminded me of Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du Buff, just a bit drier and more one-note. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because that is a very nice beer…BUT this is marketed as an IPA, and it’s not. If you’re expecting that, tread lightly; otherwise, prepare for a thirst quenching yet somewhat tepid Smokestack offering.

Boulevard Reboot White IPA, 84 points. Price: $9.49 US for one 750 ml. corked & caged bottle.

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