Offering a great model for how to operate a successful
microbrewery during challenging times, Boulevard Brewery has its reputation
spreading well beyond the Kansas City metro area. Open since 1989, the most
recent expansion brings production capacity to more than 50,000 barrels per
year. The modern equipment includes 18 140 and 70 barrel uni-tank fermenters, a
new centrifuge and a compact bottling line that serpentines across the floor to
save space. Outdoor silos for the pale malt and wheat feed a four-roller mill
inside. The vintage mash and lauter tun, acquired from a Bavarian brewery,
should soon be replaced with more contemporary and easy to manage components.
34 employees run multiple shifts to keep the beer flowing seven days a week.
The beers are not pasteurized or even sterile filtered. By bottle-conditioning
all its beers Boulevard gains an extended shelf life that allows them to
freshness date product with a "best by" date 150 days after the bottling
All hops are used whole and typically include
Nugget, Willamette and Cascade. Currently two yeast strains are used but plans
call for an increased number of styles to come to market in the near future.
The "spicy" Nutcracker holiday beer in 1999 was just a taste of things to come.
Don't be surprised to see a Pilsner and other lagers join the current all ale
line-up. New head brewer Steven Pauwels is already making his mark on the
flavor line-up. Currently, the Bob's 47 is a lager that returns seasonally,
much to the appreciation of the regional following. To see the operation for
yourself just visit the brewery on Saturday afternoons for the public tours. It
is always advisable to call ahead and confirm details. Although 50% of
production is consumed within 50 miles of the brewery, distribution does make
the beers available to eight neighboring states. To sample the best microbrew
served at 30,000 feet just fly Kansas City's own Vanguard Airlines between any
of the dozen cities it covers in the U.S.
The 1998 Nut Cracker Ale appears a clear dark amber color with serious sediment noticeable in suspension. The aroma boasts both a rich malty character and bold hoppiness. The flavor is just as potent, with a very rich, dry malty flavor and big mouthfeel. A slight alcohol presence appears in the finish, just as you'd like in a warming Christmas-time brew. The Nut Cracker will be a trial vehicle for adoption of some more flavorfull Belgian yeasts strains being evaluated. The brewery now has a staff microbiologist for better local control and creativity of this key recipe component.
The summer seasonal in 2001 is the Zon, a Belgian-style witbier. Visuals include a hazy pale straw color, pronounced carbonation, and a fine yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle. The aroma hints of coriander and orange zest, while the flavor is mostly a mellow wheat augmented by an initial citrusy tanginess. Sales indicate widespread acceptance even among the novice palates of American Midwest for this excellent rendition of a classic Belgian beer style. The unreleased Dubel is a hazy and reddish dark brown color. When poured from the bottle estery aromas spring forth. The medium body is matched with a full mouthfeel and slightly sweet maltiness where subtle esters reveal the Belgian ancestry of the yeast strain used. This one definitely improves with age! Watch for it to make its way into the specialty lineup soon. Other Boulevard beers are now available to travlers through the licensed Boulevard Brewhouse bar at Kansas City Internation Terminal C and on flights of Kansas City's hometown airline, Vanguard Airlines.
Boulevard Brewing Company
2501 Southwest Boulevard
Kansas City, Missouri 64108 U.S.A.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri -
November 1999 & June 2002