Ah, Boulevard. That there was more of you in my life. Why don’t you come to Ohio, and make my life better? Pretty please? Can I consider that a maybe? This is our fifth Boulevard beer, including Collaboration No. 2 White IPA, Saison, Saison-Brett and Two Jokers Double Wit. Oh, and Happy Birthday, by the way.
21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale pours a hazy orange copper—basically, a slightly darker Werther’s caramel color. The head is a yellowish tan, and lasts long and rouses easy, which makes it akin to a drunken Australian. Aromas open with a mixture of spicy resin hop and creamy caramel malt. I don’t perceive any of the citrus the label describes, but I do get the complex peppery components, which are quite alluring—possibly the caramel is masking the lighter and more delicate citrus character. Elli concurs with this assessment, and since her nose is better than mine, I feel better, although she could just be pandering to me. Which is always possible. When she reads this, she will roll her eyes at me, tell me it sounds fine, and send me back to the kitchen. As the beer warms, there are some orange marmalade aromas that emerge to balance the spiciness of the Magnum, which is the only aroma I can definitively pick out. Flavors start with spicy hops and caramel malt that is sweet but clean on the palate; the middle has some light and bright bitterness (again, I’m thinking Magnum) mixed with a touch of nutty and dry biscuit malt that is cleaned off the tongue with the carbonation bite prefacing the final third, closing with dry biscuit and more of the lingering clean bitterness. There is a touch of sweetness there, but more in relation to flavor than mouthfeel; again, the beer sits lightly on the palate, and drinks easier and far cleaner than the 7.4% ABV listed on the bottle—there is the perception of sweetness, but not the corresponding stickiness in the mouthfeel. Overall, an enjoyable fresh hop beer—clean and interesting with subtle yet complex hop flavor. I’d like it better with a little less caramel malt so that the subtlety could shine through more, but according to Jeffrey, that’s my answer for everything. Either that, or age it for longer in the basement, which I vociferously would not recommend for this beer. This is, however, the best of the fresh hop beers I’ve tried this year—well, unless Pig War is a fresh hop, but I don’t think it is. And yes, I just wanted another chance to say Pig War.
From the bottle: “In November 1989, John McDonald loaded his pickup and drove three blocks down the street to deliver the first keg of Boulevard beer. Though significantly more assertive, Boulevard 21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale is brewed in loving tribute to that original Pale Ale. English pale malt gives the brew a rich, nutty malt flavor. Munich and Caramel malts add color and body, while a blend of Cascade, Hallertau, Magnum, Styrian Golding, and Centennial hops contribute scintillating citrus aromas and complex peppery notes.”
From the website: “This is a beer that is best enjoyed fresh. It will not be enhanced by cellaring for weeks or months, so there’s no reason to wait. It’s time to celebrate, and—now that we’re old enough to order a beer for ourselves—we plan to raise a glass or two in November to mark the occasion. Please join us! Cheers!”
See, I told you so.
OG: 16.5˚ P
FG: 3.8˚ P
And the best jokes are the old ones.