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Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner

March 10th, 2010 beckel

Collaboration, collaborative, collaborators. My friend, local beer blogger and Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew recently wrote a very nice article on the ever growing trend. So with his words in mind I will do my best not to allow my expectations to sway my opinions of what I’m sure will be a worthy brew (shit I’ve already failed). This Imperial Pilsner is the first collaborative brew from Boulevard Brewing and is labeled as part of their Smokestack Series with only one batch being produced. It was done in collaboration with Jean-Marie Rock of the Trappist brewery Orval and is inspired by a Pilsner that he brewed in the beginning of his career and will be crafted with traditional lagering methods. Brewed with 100% Pilsner Malt and Saaz hops it certainly fits the bill. Orval is one deliciously unique beer as well as the only brew they make (at least commercially) and I am excited to see what else Rock has up his sleeves. This 750ml bottle was one tough cookie to crack open, but it was no surprise once I started pouring as it was massively carbonated. Four fingers of bright white head are easily created and form tight bubbles that quickly open up and almost completely dissipate after a few minutes leaving very little lacing. Color is a very bright golden hue, some would say straw like. Smells of clean Pilsner malt as well as robust fruity and herbal Saaz hops. Gentle earthy yeast esters, some light notes often found in the style. Malt flavors are soft, modestly sweet and clean with gentle esters that remind me of a light caramel. Hops offer a small amount of bitterness and wonderful earthy and spicy esters that Saaz are so well known for, as well as some gentle citrus & fruit esters. Body is very light and mouthfeel is clean, well carbonated and reasonably crisp. At 8% ABV this brew is no joke but you will be stretched to tell as the flavor profile masterfully hides the solid alcohol present and simply adds a nice dry character. The combination of delightful aroma and clean, malty and beautifully hopped flavors makes this lager very enjoyable. Definitely a tasty beer and a fine example of what quality, patient brewing can produce. Light Lagers tend to get a bad rap, and I will be forthright in saying I am often not a proponent, but it is important to realize that even though yeast is one of the most relevant ingredients in beer both Lager and Ale yeast can produce spectacular brews with the right recipes and techniques. One of my favorite Pilsners yet, if only more breweries spent the time to create such wonderful brews on a regular basis I might just be hooked. Though it will be next to impossible to find at this point I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to sample this lager. But who knows perhaps with its success they will brew it again (please). Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Boulevard Collaboration No. 1 Imperial Pilsner

Orval Trappist Ale

July 22nd, 2008 beckel

Orval is one of the 7 Trappist monasteries that produce beer and a foreign one to me. First produced in 1931 in the Gaume region of Belgium, this beer is sure to be an experience. Pours with massive head that is quite impossible to disturb as a proper Belgian beer should. Color is a lovely orange red, not hazy but not penetrated by light either.  Aroma is almost like a wine, full scent of alcohol and fermentation. This beer has a complex flavor, lots of smooth malt sweeps over the palate accompanied by bitter and almost sour citrus flavors. The bitter and tart flavors are most notable in this beer but the malt and yeast manage to balance this 6.9% ABV beer quite well. Probably a beer you want to sip on but its mouthfeel is amazingly light. The yeast doesn’t stand out as much as it did in the Chimay Trappist beers I’ve had but it is still an unquestionably unique drink with some flavors not present in most beer. If you like different and complex beers you should certainly give this one a try, though you will probably like it more if you prefer a  sour beer or are a fan of fermented fruits. Trappist ales are always unique and I’m glad I got the chance to try this one. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Orval Trappist Ale