8.5% ABV bottled (#08516 of 11925)
Boulevard hadn’t really impressed me in the past, especially on a last summer trip to Kansas City, but their highly acclaimed Smokestack Series would surely change all that. My friend Taco Town Dave was visiting from Oklahoma and he asked if there was anything local I’d like. “Any and every Smokestack possible,” I implored him. I was most excited when he delivered the Saison-Brett, currently Beer Advocate’s #2 saison in the world with a remarkably meteoric rise to garner that lofty position.
Everything about this beer is just flawlessly crafted. The taste is so balanced. A blend of those classic saison flavors of orange peel, coriander, and spices, mixed with the wild yeast. Earthy yeastiness, bitter yet still a touch sweet. It’s not as funky as I expected but I suppose that’s because I’ve come to expect modern brewers to make Brett beers as stinky and tart as possibly. Not this one. This one uses the Brett to perfection. Awesome and tasty to the extreme, I’m floored at the high ABV because I feel like I could, and I very much desired to, greedily throw down several of these magnums in a night. Truly top notch.
I’ve had many of the top saisons in the world this summer, fermented luminaries such as Saison Dupont, The Bruery’s splendid offerings, and Lost Abbey’s Carnavale to name a few, but I got to say that this one trumps them all. I wish I had it in stock at all times, it is absolutely glorious. One of my biggest drinking pleasures of this summer so far.
Let’s compare the above to Boulevard’s regular Smokestack Saison. I’m not sure if this contains the exact same ingredients as the Saison-Brett–simply sans Brett–but it simply isn’t as good. Coming in at a lower and yet more drinkable 6.2% ABV, this brew is yeasty as hell, spicy, fruity, but unfortunately not that complex, nor that tasty. Still not a bad summer drink, but don’t trade the farm for it.
And while we’re at it, Taco Town Dave provided me with one other Smokestack as well, The Sixth Glass, their attempt at a quadruple.
I knew my friend The Captain absolutely adored this beer, so I had lofty expectations, but unfortunately it didn’t quite deliver for me. It’s tough for most quads to ever fully deliver when many of the best beers in the world are also quads, so like National League first basemen or Western Conference forwards, it’s a stacked playing field where even a great, great one can appear to be nothing more than an also-ran.
The 10.5% ABV Sixth Glass is somewhat muted in its typical quad tastes of dark fruits, biscuits, and malts, but it’s pretty solid. I mean, what can I say? It’s not Westy 12, Rochefort 10, or St. Bernardus 12. But, then again, what is? Still worth trying.