Earlier today, I wrote that Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels introduced two soon-to-be Boulevard offerings at Flying Saucer last night. Here's what some of us thought of the offerings.
The second beer we tasted is currently nicknamed Tank 7. When it's released it will have a different name ("It takes much longer to think of the name than to think of the beer," Pauwels said only half-jokingly), but the recipe should be the same. It's based on the Saison-Brett with some notable differences.
When I originally wrote about Saison-Brett, I said it's very cloudy like a Boulevard Wheat and I could smell the strong yeast aroma from far away.
The color in the Tank 7 has the same cloudy golden-straw look with a
medium head but the strong yeast smell has been toned down and
partially replaced with hops.
As Pauwels put it, Boulevard has
"dry-hopped" the Tank 7 and taken its IBU (bitterness scale) levels to
45, which is on the extreme end for saisons and more along the lines of
pale ale. It's "a base beer with a little bit more
steroids," Pauwels said.
What we really noticed is something odd for a saison:
cream. Lots of it. "This is really creamy," said one of my tablemates.
"Much sweeter too," added another. The sweetness is because
Tank 7 isn't as alcoholic as Saison-Brett (7.5 versus 8.5 ABV) but
I couldn't explain the creaminess. Not that it was bad -- it balanced out
the hops with the yeast so that neither dominated, allowing for strong clove flavors and esthers that left a dry-sweet
taste -- the sign of a saison.
By the end of the night, Tank 7 was by most accounts the best. It promises to be a huge hit when it comes out in April, no matter the name
Wheat wine, on the other hand, promises to be divisive.
It's brewed like barley wine, which is to say it's technically a beer. It will eventually be carbonated but the samples Pauwels
served were uncarbonated and warm, so there's a big chance the final
product will taste very different from the one served last night.
said, a lot of people didn't like it and the ones who did at my
table found it mediocre. Admittednly, none of us had any experience
with wheat wine. Pauwels had said the wheat wine is
aged in oak barrels that used to age the grape varietal viognier. One
of the problems people have with oak-bomb wines like California chardonnays
is that the oak can easily overpower the grape. That's partially what appears to have
happened here. I detected a lot of oak on the nose and only a slight wheat
flavor. The largest component of this wine, though, is sweetness. It was
even sweeter than a Reisling but without the complicated flavors (which carbonation could easily bring out). Everyone agreed that a full bottle of it would be too much. As a
sipping beer, the wheat wine could be a winner but as an everyday beer,
it will never match the Tank 7.