Beer Review: Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad

Name: Bourbon Barrel Quad (Part of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series)
Brewing Company: Boulevard Brewing Co.
Location: Kansas City, MO
Style: Belgian Quadrupel
ABV: 11.2%

Duvel (the beer name on the glass) owns Boulevard, thus the glass style (tulip) and name, are doubly appropriate!

Description of the beer from Boulevard’s landing page for the beer

Based loosely on the Smokestack Series’ The Sixth Glass, this abbey-style quadrupel is separated into a number of oak bourbon barrels where it ages for varying lengths of time, some for up to three years. Cherries are added to make up for the “angel’s share” of beer lost during barrel aging. Selected barrels are then blended for optimum flavor. The resulting beer retains only very subtle cherry characteristics, with toffee and vanilla notes coming to the fore.

Boulevard is one of the largest craft breweries in Missouri, and despite being owned by Belgian brewing giant Duvel Moortgat, they seem to hew to their own traditions. I can’t really compare the brewery and its output to the pre-Duvel purchase (2013), but their beers seem to have a very solid reputation in the Craft Beer industry. Enough about Boulevard, on to this fine Belgian inspired brew…

I realize this is the second Belgian Quadrupel I’ve reviewed in two months, so you know the beer stood out.

The beer pours brownish/amber and the aroma that arises out of the glass is pleasing and inviting. There’s quite a bit of sweetness on the first sip, but it is very welcoming. Some sweeter beers can be too cloying, but the balance up front (and overall) is quite nice. Then the bourbon hits and the sweetness continues, along with the flavors imparted by the oak barrels and the whiskey remnants. I’m not sure I got too much of the cherry flavors called out in the beer description, but there was a little more to the sweetness than the vanilla and bourbon.

I initially expected the beer to be a little darker than it poured, if I’m going to be honest. However, everything else about this beer exceeded my expectations, or side-stepped them in some way. The quad aspects are definitely present, but after that initial sip, the bourbon barrel flavors assert themselves and complement the yeasty Belgian goodness quite nicely. There’s a sweetness of vanilla that brings this fully into the realm of a dessert beer. Pour it early just after dinner and enjoy it over the course of the evening. I thought I was going to enjoy the beer, but I was sad when i downed the last sip in the glass.

This is a very delicious beer and one that has me more interested in the beers that Boulevard Brewing is producing. Especially Boulevard’s Smokestack Series,  their group of brews which are higher in ABV, more complex in taste, and great for slow enjoyment. As a part of the series, this Bourbon Barrell Quad fits perfectly. They distribute fairly strongly into New Jersey so meeting that interest shouldn’t be too tough.

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-bottle cap rating.

Untapped badges earned with this beer

Sky’s the Limit (Level 20)

You don’t always intend to go for beers with a double digit ABV, but when you do, you make it count! Cheers to you, but be careful, 10% and up can really pack a punch. That’s 100 different beers with an ABV of 10% and up.

#UntapTheStack

You’re off to a great start! Keep trying Boulevard Smokestack Series beers to #UntapTheStack and unlock all three levels (it’ll be worth it, trust us).

 

Draught Diversions: O’Fallon Pumpkin Pack

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Now for a seasonally appropriate review of a variety pack of pumpkin beers less than a week before Hallowe’en, the O’Fallon Pumpkin Pack.

O’Fallon Brewery, based in Missouri, has been crafting ales and lagers since 2000 including their regionally popular Pumpkin Beer. Unfortunately, only select beers of their output are distributed here in NJ, although I recall seeing their pumpkin beers last year and I did pick up a bomb of their Imperial Stout earlier in the year. Two particular beers in  this “Pumpkin Patch” pushed me to get the variety pack, the Jack O’Latte Milk Stout and Pumpkin Bread Dunkelweizen. So, how did the whole variety pack fare? Like most variety packs some beers were, of course, better than others, but not in ways that I expected. I’ll give a mini-review of each below leading up to the one I enjoyed the most.

The beer I had first was the Pumpkin Bread, as I’ve said in some posts, I really like Dunkelweizens so I’m always on the lookout for a new Dunkel to try. In the case of O’Fallon’s Pumpkin Bread, there are definitely bready elements of the Dunkelweizen but a lot of the expected finishing notes (clove/banana) are masked or altogether not present due to the pumpkin / pumpkin spice elements. As I commented on untappd, it does exactly what the label suggests, evokes the flavor profile of pumpkin bread. That said, there’s something not quite there for me. Not a bad beer, just not quite what I’d hoped.

 

Next up (and the one I tried last) was the standard Pumpkin Beer, which was a perfectly acceptable pumpkin ale. It didn’t blow me away but it didn’t leave an aftertaste like some pumpkin ales can leave. Better than many pumpkin beers I’ve had, not quite as good as a few others, and one I’d rank in the top half of the many pumpkin beers I’ve had. In other words, a pumpkin ale I’d reach for again. I can understand why this is a local favorite in the State of Missouri, this is a very drinkable ale. This would be for relaxing by a fire pit whilst enjoying a few while the night begins to cool.

 

The one that surprised me the most was Saison De Citrouille. Citrouille is French for Pumpkin, and as the name implies, this is a Saison/Farmhouse brewed with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices. While I enjoy Saison/Farmhouse Ales, they aren’t one of my “go to” styles. Sometimes, this style can have a bitter, earthy aftertaste that I find unpleasant. On the other hand, some of the lighter Saisons I’ve had are more crisp with a bit of a fruitiness to the flavor profile. O’Fallon’s take on the style is a nice variation and melding of styles, the pumpkin spices blend really well with esters in the beer, complementing each other for a balanced, tasty beer. A perfect beer for those early fall days that still have some warm winds and sun leftover from the summer.

Last is Jack O’Latte and the beer from this variety pack I enjoyed the most. There was a time I loved pumpkin flavored coffee and would have it every day once the leaves started changing. Since the Pumpkin Spice overkill began a few years ago (coupled with Dunkin Donuts drastically altering its flavorings), I slowed that roll and mostly drink dark roast coffee. Anyway, back to this beer… Jack O’Latte does everything right with those flavors: a stout sweetened with lactose, further enhanced with pumpkin / pumpkin pie spices for a beer that makes you want more. If this were available in 6-packs, I would make sure to pick up a pack every fall. In the end, isn’t that what a brewery tried to do with the beer it produces?

The final verdict: The O’Fallon Pumpkin Pack is worth trying if you enjoy pumpkin beers and are looking to sample a variety of styles with pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavors. Each beer is good with the Saison De Citrouille and Jack O’Latte very good. I it is impressive, on the whole, how well O’Fallon blends the pumpkin flavors into a variety of typically non-pumpkin styles.