In which two of the bestest of all best things of Kansas City collaborate: Boulevard and Christopher Elbow (whose chocolates YOU NEED TO HAVE IN YOUR LIFE)(because you know what a chocolate truffle needs? Earl Grey Tea, that’s what. Seriously. So amazing.) made an ale together. Yes, an ale. Not a stout, an ale. Like a roughly amber-colored ale. With hops (and chocolate) and everything.
It comes out on Tuesday. I got to try it already because my job is awesome like that.
See, when I heard Boulevard was making some kind of limited edition chocolate “thing” for the Smokestack series, I assumed what anyone else would: the “thing” in question would either be a stout or a porter (because, being that both styles often use chocolate malts, chocolate is a good, if obvious, addition).
No one ever mentioned that Christopher Elbow would be involved. I seriously cannot describe his chocolate beyond saying a) it is amazingly amazing, b) the flavors are unbelievable, and c) IS PRITTY. So here’s his website to describe it for me. Anyway, had I known Christopher Elbow was involved I would have known there was no way in hell they’d bother making a stout, because that would have been too easy.
Anyway, having tried it, I suspect everyone involved had a whee of a good time.
So here’s the beer. It’s a gorgeous amber color with a thick, tan head and a scent of rich, *slightly* bitter milk chocolate. There might be a touch of fruit in the back.
Upon first taste, I noticed the mouthfeel before I noticed the chocolate (which is a good trick given the chocolate was what I was looking for) – it’s silk. Or cream. It’s smooth and rich and soft and luxurious and wonderful. And yet, as silky as it is, there’s a bite to it from the hops.
Flavor-wise, the chocolate is easily the dominant flavor. On first taste, I really thought milk chocolate; later, I was leaning more towards semi-sweet. It’s probably bittersweet or cocoa nibs or something like that which has then been sweetened by the high alcohol content to read more sweetly. The malts – and the chocolate, I suspect - has a definite sort of fruitiness to it, which I took to be almost cherry-like at first sip. The hops, while bitey, aren’t particularly bitter – just enough to keep the ale from being too sugary.
To be honest, my first reaction was “chocolate-covered maraschino cherry with hops,” but I revised that on the second taste. The second round through, I can still taste the chocolate and the hint of fruit and the bite of the hops, but it’s so much more complex than my first reaction. It’s really pretty awesome. I also think it’s the type of beer that would cellar BEAUTIFULLY – a year or so would really round out the hop bite and let it all meld into a happy chocolate beer heaven.* That said, it’s already kickass, so enjoy whenever you want it.
So basically, try to find some, especially if you love Kansas City, because it’s a project of some of the greatest epicureans we have in this city. I think it’s going to FLY off the shelves at light speed, so this is one of those “swing by your liquor store during lunch at work on Tuesday to get it” type beers, because I’m not convinced it’s going to be around much longer than that. And enjoy it, because it’s a master creation of some amazing artisans and deserves to get some love.
*If I am the luckiest bastard ever to live, there will in fact be a chocolate beer heaven, and I will get to go there.