Tuesday, July 11, 2006

July 2006 - Beers I picked up in KC

I have been looking forward to this months' Memphis Beer Club for a long time. With the selection in Memphis for 'New' beer getting more and more difficult I made a road trip to KC to pick a few of my favorite beers, and I guess to visit my family. I have made a trip over to West Memphis to find a few of this month's beer locally but they seemed to sit on the self for a while (lots of dust) and they had a very limited selection. We will be sampling 7 beers this month with 4 from the Boulevard Brewing Company from Kansas City MO and 3 from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins Colorado.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale had been my "If I could only have one brand of beer for the rest of my life" until I discovered Boulevard Pale Ale again. I drank a lot of Blvd beer when I was in living in KC until 1995 and never thought much of it while I was there. When I left KC it was all about quantity and not quality and then I was back in 2003 and had a Pale Ale on tap at Tanners on 87th street and everything changed. For the last 3 years I have had my parents, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, my wife and myself bring back enough Blvd Pale Ale to make sure I have some in the fridge at all times. Until this last trip was down to my last one and I was treating like it was the last beer on earth.

I'm sure you're thinking that why would a guy that started a beer club that has tried over 75 beers hold Blvd Pale Ale so high on his list of beers? It all goes back to the question about "If I could only have one brand of beer for the rest of my life!" Sure I love others beers just as much (Taddy Porter, Fat Tire, Liberty Ale .....) but Blvd Pale Ale has the perfect amount of hops and malts that can satisfy my taste buds every time. I'm not saying Blvd Pale Ale is the 'Best' beer I have ever had, just that it's my favorite beer. (Currently!)

When I was in Collage at Baker University the one beer I tried to get all the time was Fat Tire (when I could afford it). This was my "One Beer" at that time and is still one of my top everyday beers. In fact we searched all over KC to get a keg of Fat Tire for my wedding. One of the best times I have had in KC in the last few years is a Thanksgiving tradition with my brother and his friends playing pop-a-shot football at Tanners. This is where I tried to drink way to many Fat Tires and then had to go out to dinner with the family. There is something about Fat Tire that makes it so easy to drink that I seem to always have to many.

Enough about me lets talk about the beer. Founded in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Company has grown to become the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. There mission is simple: to produce fresh, flavorful beers using the finest traditional ingredients and the best of both old and new brewing techniques. Boulevard Brewing Company offer fours beers year-round: Pale Ale, Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Bully! Porter, and Dry Stout and some seasonal beers: Irish Ale in the spring, ZŌN in summer, Bob's 47 in the fall, and our winter holiday treat, Nutcracker Ale.

The Boulevard story begins in 1988, when founder John McDonald started construction of the brewery in a turn-of-the-century brick building on Kansas City's historic Southwest Boulevard. A vintage Bavarian brewhouse was installed, and the first batches of beer were produced in the fall of 1989. That November, the first keg of Boulevard Pale Ale was delivered in the back of John's pickup truck to Ponak's Mexican Kitchen, just a few blocks away.

Boulevard underwent expansions in 1999 and 2003, but in March 2005, Boulevard broke ground on a $20 million expansion project that will give the brewery an estimated 700,000 barrels/year production capacity. The new brewing and packaging building is being constructed adjacent to the existing plant. The three-story building will be connected via an elevated walkway to the company's original brewhouse, and will house a 150-barrel brewhouse, packaging equipment, administrative offices and hospitality rooms available for special events. The new brewhouse is expected to begin production in June, 2006, and the new hospitality areas are expected to be completed late in 2007.

When the expansion is complete, and has entered full production, the new brewhouse will facilitate the brewing of Boulevard's Unfiltered Wheat and Pale Ale beers, which together comprise more than 90% of Boulevard's sales. All other beers will be produced in the present facility. With the expansion, Boulevard hopes to continue to grow at its historical rate of 15-20 percent per year. The brewery is now the largest craft brewer in the Midwest. Boulevard's beer is available throughout Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, North Dakota and parts of Illinois. The brewery conducts free tours on Saturdays, at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, and 4:00 PM, or by special arrangement. Tours are very popular, and reservations are highly recommended.

The next sets of beers are from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. Fat Tire, an Amber ale is the company's flagship beer. The recipe originates from a co-founder's bicycle trip through Belgium from brewery to brewery. The company promotes its Fat Tire ale locally by the public placement of colorful vintage bicycles outside its brewery, which is located adjacent to the public bike path along the Poudre River. A likeness of the bicycle also appears on the label of all Fat Tires.

The brewery was founded by husband-and-wife team Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan in 1991 and emphasizes eco-friendly practices and employee ownership in its marketing materials. It is located in northeast Fort Collins near the Cache la Poudre River on the grounds of the former Great Western Sugar plant. It is one of the most eco-Frphilanthropicantropic compaAmerican america. Everydollar$1 ddonatedis donted from every barrel of beer sold to each region based upon percent of sales. New Belgium has donated over $1.6 million dollars programsl progams.

New Belgium Brewery has made it a goal to be entirely wind-powered. Rather than directly using wind-generated power, the brewery elects to pay an increased rate for their wind-generated electrical energy, which is supplied by the City of Fort Collins Utilities in order to ensure it comes from the cleanest source possible.About 10% of the brewery's powers comes from methane gas created as a by product of their on-site water treatment plant. Water is a key ingredient of beer. Water is also a key ingredient of life, ergo beer is a key ingredient of life (well that's a stretch, but it's a mighty fine thing). Through recapture and reuse, New Belgium has nearly halved the industry average of using eight barrels of water to produce one barrel of beer.

Before 2006, New Belgium distributed in only 15 states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Colorado). In Spring 2006, the brewery began to distribute some of their beers in other markets. For example, bottles of Fat Tire distributed in Chicago claim "Chicago Inaugural: The 1st Fat Tire Ale served (legally) in the second city."

Now, lets talk about the beers. The first beer we will be tasting is Pilsnerddle Pilsner Lager from New Belgium. Blue Paddle Pilsner, crafted without the use of adjuncts like corn or rice, explores the boundaries where American Lagers seldom journey. Reflective of Europe's finest Pilsner's, Blue Paddle delivers a refreshing bitterness, vibrant finish and a subtle but intricate depth of flavor.

With Blue Paddle, New Belgium wanted to produce a beer that was definitive of the upper echelon. Peter Bouckaert and his brew staff drew inspiration from outside the world of Belgian ales for the generously hopped lager. Blue Paddle has a bit more body than the traditional Belgian pils and is closer in style to a Bohemian Style. High impact crispness from noble hop varieties finishes with a rich panoply of malt flavor.

The next beer is Boulevards ZŌN, a Belgium White Beer (Witbier). ZŌN (Flemish for 'sun') combines the subtle flavors of coriander and orange peel with the other traditional ingredients to create a delightful, refreshing summertime brew. The Memphis Beer Club tried Blue Moon back in November which is also a Witbier. Zon was fashioned for the warm summer months ahead," said Steven Pauwels, Boulevard's head brewer and a Belgian himself. "It's a perfect complement to summer activities."

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a lively, refreshing ale with the natural citrusy flavor and distinctive cloudy appearance. This easy-drinking American style wheat beer has become our most popular offering mans the best-selling craft beer in the Midwest. Traditionally, beer is made with malted barley--but wheat beer substitutes a substantial proportion of wheat for the barley. This changes things greatly. The beer is lighter, both in color and mouth-feel. A wonderful acidity creeps into the brew, insuring the sensation of freshness. And insipidity's not part of the recipe. The yeasts used for wheat beer in many places provide some of the most interesting flavors in all of beerdom: spicy ones, with hints of clove, and fruity flavors, sometimes suggesting apples or bananas.

The flagship beer from the New Belgium Brewery is Fat Tire and is considered an Amber Ale. New Belgium has a slogan that states "Follow Your Folly, Ours is Beer." Like the ageless delight of pedaling a bicycle, Fat Tire's appeal is in its feat of balance: Toasty malt flavors coasting in equilibrium with crisp hoppiness. Delicious stability - in the world of sometimes-precarious beer flavors - is perhaps what prompted one consumer who wrote us to say, "this beer just makes you smile!"

New Belgium has launched a Tour De Fat fund raiser project around the country. Admission to the festival is free and all beer sales profits are donated to a local non profit charity. The festival includes local music acts, a crazy costume contest, a weird bike race and a don't spill your beer bike race. They start in Frisco on July 8th and end up in Tempe on October 21st. Check out this website to find out more.

Next we will be trying my favorite beer from Boulevard Brewing Company, Pale Ale. Blvd Pale Ale is an American Pale Ale with a smooth, fruity, well-balanced beer with a year-around appeal. A variety of caramel malts impart a rich flavor and amber color, while liberal use of whole hops adds zest and aroma. Pale Ale is the first beer they brewed and is a major reason for the building expansion. I talked a lot about this beer in the intro so it's on the next beer of the night.

New Belgium 1554 Brussels Style Black Ale is becoming one of my favorite beers from New Belgium. After trying the Schwarzbier beer from the Amazon, Xingu, I have become a huge fan of this style of beer. Another great Schwarzbier is the Black Lager from Samuel Adams as part of the Brewmasters Collection.

When one sees a beer with a darker complexion these days, more often than not it's a Porter or Stout. However looks can be deceiving. There exists a style older than both and generally less well known; the Schwarzbier, which literally translated is "Black Beer." Unlike its dark cousins which both hail from Britain and are highly hopped ales, Schwarzbier comes from Germany, is lightly hopped and is fermented using a bottom fermenting lager yeast.

Last but not least, we will be sampling Boulevard Bully! Porter. This Porter is a great porter that has an intense flavor of dark-roasted male in Boulevard's rendition of the classic English porter is perfectly balanced by generous and complex hop character. Bully!Porter's robust nature makes it the ideal companion for a variety of foods, from seafood to chocolate.

During the First World War in Britain, shortages of grain led to restrictions on the production of strong beer. This allowed Irish brewers such as Guinness to fill the market need and gain market dominance, a position that they continue to enjoy to this day. The microbrew revival of the past twenty years has led to somewhat of a resurgence in the popularity of the style, with many new varieties available around the world. The style is particularly prominent and popular in the United States.

Your blog is making me thirsty!
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I thought you were only a connossuier of fine wine coolers.
Boulevard Pale Ale is the Nectar of the Gods. Apparently, you can (as of a few days ago) now buy this in Nashville!!

How can we get it to Memphis??? This KC native is thirsty!!
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