By OWEN MORRIS
As the newest beer in Boulevard's Smokestack Series and the one named after the city's most iconic sports figure (sorry Len Dawson) Saison-Brett has high expectations on its shoulders. Of course, any beer that costs $12 and change for 25 ounces should have high expectations. But Saison-Brett has been declared by those in the know as Boulevard's best beer so I had really high expectations.
Since only 12,000 bottles are being made (about four bottles for every hit Brett had) and inventory seems to be off and on (it was delayed then it wasn't etc.), I picked up two bottles when my liquor-store guy called to say he had it in stock. I took one bottle all for my lonesome and I shared the other bottle with several co-workers.
Basically the response was the same across the board: "This is good! So it's the new Boulevard? It tastes very smooth. I could drink a couple of these. How much did it cost? Really? That much? Well, it's not very strong for that amount of money."
Basically the Saison-Brett is an excellent beer and a standout in the saison category. It pours in the glass like a very cloudy Boulevard Wheat and even though I was holding the glass down by my waist, the aroma was still strong and slightly yeasty.
As for taste, saisons in general are tough to describe. They taste one part pale ale and one part witbier. It's difficult for me to pin down one flavor that the Saison-Brett had because the beer subtly changes with every new sip. Even when I let it sit in the mouth for a couple seconds and actually tried to name one specific flavor I couldn't. This beer is like the greased pig of high-end beers: just when you think you've got it, it moves.
Beer connoisseurs and people who are really into flavor structure will definitely take to this beer. The casual drinker who is just looking for something to sip and to knock his socks off will be disappointed. To appreciate the flavors you have to pay constant attention to the beer and I even found conversation distracting.
Then there's the price. It costs about three or four dollars more than a regular Smokestack bottle, which puts it squarely in the luxury category and out of reach for the normal consumer. As one co-worker said to me, "I won't even pay $12 for a bottle of wine!" My co-worker may not be willing to pay but I bet there are a lot of people out there who are.
Finally, one of my favorite parts of this beer is its name. It got me thinking: What other beers deserve to be named Royals' players? A few of my choices below the jump.
Mike Sweeney, Budweiser American Ale: This should be a great beer. It's got name recognition and it's wholesome and all-American. Yet it disappoints and leaves the drinker mad at what could have been a great beer.
Mike MacDougal, Homemade Beer: You never know exactly what you're going to get with homemade beer, whether this batch will be delicious and perfect quality or just complete crap that makes you question your faith in God.
Dan Quisenberry, Sam Adams Boston Lager: Not flashy but a pick you feel good with every-time and a beer that finishes great.
Matt Stairs, Red Stripe: The taste is nothing spectacular but you remember this beer because of the way it looks — a short, stout bottle that is almost as wide as it is tall.
Bob Hamlin, Red Dog: If you remember Red Dog it's very vaguely and as being popular in the early '90s for about a day. I can't comment on the taste because I never tried it but it's become the butt of jokes.
Tony Pena Jr., Boulevard Zon: Why oh why is this beer still around?
Frank White, Boulevard Irish Ale: A beer drinker's beer. One that is quality every time around yet doesn't get the press of Boulevard Wheat or Pale Ale.