My wife always rolls her eyes at me when we are at the store and walk down the coffee aisle and remark about how amazing it always smells. She rolls her eyes because that comment is usually always followed by me telling her I want to buy some, which sets off a series of stops in the store to buy creamer of some kind and it’s never a short process since I tend to be extremely indecisive. The real problem then becomes the fact that the first few days we get up, brew the coffee I drink about a half a cup and realize that my taste for coffee just hasn’t developed even if I use more creamer than I have coffee in the glass. Hence the reason why more often than not when we go down the coffee aisle my desire to buy coffee usually goes ignored nowadays.
The other peculiar part about living with me is how picky I am about food in general. Mixing beer to the situation I am known to try almost everything at least once and sometimes the weirder it seems to be the more I seem to like it- it’s a constant mystery to my wife how I can be so choosy about the food I eat, but I will drink pretty much whatever is put in front of me even if it is brewed with something I wouldn’t normally eat on its own. So when we browse the beer aisles at the grocery store and I put Boulevard’s Coffee Ale in the cart that normal eye roll was nowhere to be perceived and instead what I got was the look that just kind of says, “I can’t wait to see how this turns out.”
When I turned 21 I had no knowledge of “craft beer,” all I knew was that there was beer and there was Dr. Pepper- my two favorite things at that age. For me it was almost a constant stream of Bud Light mostly because that’s all I really grew up seeing friends and family drink. The very first time I branched out it was Boulevard’s Wheat beer that introduced me to a whole new possibility of what beer could be and I will always credit them for at least my introduction to the world of craft beer. I’ve come a long way since that first taste of Boulevard Wheat all the way to their newest and wildly popular Smokestack Series Special Release Coffee Ale which my short and simple opinion of is, I actually kind of love it.
The majority of beers I try that have a hint of coffee or outright crank up their coffee profile are stouts or porters. The Boulevard Coffee Ale is basically a brown ale but also can simply be categorized as an herb/spiced beer and carries almost no resemblance to stout. The bottle pours nice and smooth with a decent amount of head and an impressive amount of carbonation. Given my preconceptions about it being a coffee ale and the amount of carbonation I was expecting the first taste to be able to jolt me out of a near catatonic state and instead the first sip gave me nothing but a nice clean and extremely smooth taste that screams coffee from the get go, but it is in no way off-putting or overly bitter.
The beer is dark brown in color and you will notice a large amount of sediment in your glass mostly once you get toward the bottom of the bottle, but nothing that I really noticed as I was drinking it that harmed the taste of the beer in general. The smell of the beer does not have near the overwhelming coffee odor that I would expect, but instead is really subtle in character.
Boulevard collaborated with a gourmet coffee shop known as The Roasterie for this beer using Ethiopian Sidamo blended with rye, oats and malted barley in the brew along with Perle and Styrian Golding hops and comes in at 9.3 ABV. The Coffee Ale drinks scary smooth for having such high alcohol content, but coming from a 750 ML bottle I believe that works just fine in one sitting as opposed to sitting and enjoying one after another.
Coming from someone who openly admits to a weird relationship with coffee as a drink, I believe that loving Boulevard’s Coffee Ale is quite telling about the quality of the beer- unless of course you think I’m a complete idiot in which case, to each their own. Personally, I find this to be my favorite of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series releases and easily one I’d go back out and buy again when the craving strikes.