Boulevard and Beast Mode

Continuing my search for new craft breweries, I found a mix pack from Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City at one of my usual beer stores. IMG_0490Boulevard has built a highly successful operation far from the usual craft brew hot spots, and there are a couple of lines of evidence showing that they embrace their Midwest identity and the challenge of brewing interesting beer at the opposite end of Missouri (along I-70) from the St. Louis headquarters of Anheuser-Busch.

Partly you can see their attitude in the style of beer they are producing. This mix pack included two of their standard beers and two from their “Tasting Room” series. The two standard beers were both wheat beers (lots of wheat across the state line in Kansas), one of which goes by the simple descriptive name of Unfiltered Wheat Beer, while the other is called 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat and has a large red classic farm tractor on the label art. IMG_0478Both of these beers had a fairly distinct lemony note that was different from the usual orange flavor that seems to pervade a lot of wheat beers and gave these a little more interest.

One of the Tasting Room beers was their Mid-Coast IPA, which I find amusing since Kansas City is about as far as you can get from the coast. (Remember that I grew up outside of Cleveland where we would occasionally joke about being on America’s North Coast.)   On the label, they also describe the 100+ IBU’s as “pretty nervy for a bunch of Midwesterners.” (Check the link in the preceding post for a critique of beers with too much hops.) IMG_0479The other seasonal beer was an Oatmeal Stout with an appealing intense color but a fizzier, less dense head than you get with some stouts.

Continuing to challenge my aversion to beer in cans, I picked up a six-pack of Beast Mode from Brooklyn-based Sixpoint Brewery.

IMG_0485As a casual fan of the New England Patriots, I was a little worried about the karmic implications of drinking a beer called Beast Mode during the Super Bowl, so maybe it’s good that I switched to an alternative beverage for the second half, but I did continue to enjoy this porter in a variety of settings over the next couple of weeks. The tall, skinny can is distinctive and I was impressed enough by this beer that I will be on the lookout for others.

Getting away from the alliterative theme, a return visit to Allentown took me and son G back to Allentown Brew Works for a repeat of last year’s pre-gymnastics meet dinner out. Parking was an adventure given the combination of incomplete plowing and a hockey game at the new downtown arena, but it was warm inside the restaurant and the beer was as good as I remembered from our previous visits. My choices for the special seasonal beers (on top of the four year-round beers that always come with the sampler) were a triplebock aged in bourbon barrels and an imperial stout that was probably my favorite on the evening.

The long cold winter has made darker beers especially appealing, so during the last couple of choir outings to our regular Irish pub, I’ve gone with the Deep Six porter from Heavy Seas. We had a special Sunday afternoon concert/service today, performing works by Mozart and Arvo Pärt with a small string ensemble, plus it has been birthday week for singing friend Peter, so there were multiple occasions to celebrate, including the first day where the temperature got far enough above freezing to melt some of the icicles and snow on the roof.

We’re back into the deep freeze tomorrow (temperatures dropping steadily for the next 24-36 hours), but the days are inexorably getting longer and life will eventually get back to something approaching normal. Hope that wherever you are, it’s warm and dry and there are enjoyable adult beverages to help pass the cold winter nights. Cheers!

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