American Strong Ale: 9.3% ABV/26 IBU
The flavor of coffee may not sound like a desirable compliment to ale to the entry level beer enthusiast. Think about it: “what happens if I pour a large shot of coffee into my beer?” It’s disgusting, isn’t it? But I have some words of wisdom for you: when you see the word “coffee” on a beer label, take interest in it immediately. Not only is coffee an inherent flavor to many porters and stouts, it is often added and is never unwelcome. It reminds me of a vibrating cock-ring: when I was first handed one by an ex of mine I flinched and shied. But there is little I wouldn’t do in exchange for sex (I think my Italian meat-rod has an override switch that it flicks on to prevent my brain from saying “no” to a glistening, pink velvet sausage wallet). So after about .000003 seconds of fearful hesitation I forged ahead with the mysterious device, and during the ensuing passionate and steamy 25 – 30 seconds of coitus I thought to myself, “Wow! This thing is awesome!” And so my horizons were forever broadened. But I am getting ahead of myself. While Boulevard’s Coffee Ale is delicious and worth purchasing again, there is one thing it lacked according to my taste buds: the flavor of COFFEE.
What in the blue fuck? From what I heard and read, this ale contains a heavy taste of coffee. Had it not been on the label I would have not noticed unless I was focusing deeply on identifying the flavor in it. Perhaps it was a bad batch. Perhaps my taste buds were off kilter, or I am desensitized to coffee flavors because I drink so many stouts and porters. Or perhaps most who reported this beer to me had tricked themselves into tasting it because of the label, and due to the fact that it is brewed with the production assistance of The Roasterie, which is a specialty producer of coffee and tea in Kansas City (the town in which Boulevard is located). A boutique coffee producer helped make this coffee ale and I can’t taste the fucking coffee! Regardless: buy this beer if you see it.
This is not a porter or stout which is what my mind was prepared for when I bought it due to the “coffee” label. It is not opaque, black and chewy. This one pours the color of a lovely dark brown, and in a bright light you can see through it and its golden hue, albeit barely. In fact if you pour coffee into a glass it looks very similar to the body of this brew. The light tan head is one of its best qualities. You can control how thick you want it easily. I gave it a perfect two finger depth because I am fucking awesome. And the retention is fantastic. Two very big beer-loving boners up for the head.
The odor is lovely: malt, caramel, breakfast cereal, barley, a slight smell of booze, and a touch of fresh hops. And yes, there is a hint of coffee there, but it did not strike me. The flavor is more or less the same as the odor with a heavy dose of malt (maybe the malt flavor is the “coffee” flavor), and the carbonation is well balanced and gives this brew a creamy and wet feel as it mixes and travels down the gullet. I hardly tasted the alcohol at all.
I loved this beer and while I was disappointed I didn’t get the coffee flavor out of it I intend on buying it again, and hopefully the coffee flavor will be there the next time. This is an American strong ale which is a very broad varietal beer style. The most notable characteristic shared among all ASA’s is that they contain a relatively high ABV. So exploring them is a lot of fun. Life is like the American strong ale. You never know what you’re gonna get. Forrest Gump said that, didn’t he?
Style (as a “coffee ale”): 6.5/10 (subject to change during my next encounter)
Style (as an American strong ale): 8.5/10