Friday, June 26, 2009

Boulevard Pilsner: not your grandfather's lager

Posted by on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 11:00 AM

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Schlitz has recently had a rather successful comeback by reintroducing its original recipe and playing up its retro-chic factor. Light, simple and All-American, it represents the classic beer of a simpler time.

Boulevard clearly intended to go this direction with its new American lager called Boulevard Pilsner. It's the cheapest beer the company makes ($5.99 for a six-pack) and the logo is right out of the '50s. The actual Boulevard logo is nowhere to be found. Even the Smokestack series had the logo on the back of the bottle, but not Boulevard pilsner.

It's almost as if Boulevard is trying to distance itself from the pilsner, in case people revolt against the idea of Kansas City's precious micro-brewery trying a beer style in the territory of Anheuser-Busch and Miller (in that case, Boulevard can say it was all an experiment). On the other hand, maybe it's to keep Anheuser-Busch and Miller from feeling too threatened.

And Anheuser and Miller have reason to feel threatened.

Boulevard Pilsner may be sold right next to MGD and Coors Extra-Gold,

and they may all be in the same style according to beer authority BJCP

(that would be category 1C: premium American lager) but when it comes to the flavor -- yes flavor! -- the Boulevard is in a class of its own.

The

first pour didn't make us optimistic. The aroma is similar to every lager, which is to say not very strong, with a

slight corny smell. But upon tasting it, things started too look up

considerably.

The first noticeable flavor is the hops. Boulevard

advertises it as having a "real hop character" and it delivers. An initial light bitterness gives way to the smoothness of the

malt. (This beer uses no rice.) What really sets it apart is

what happens next: Instead of turning into flavorless

alcoholic carbonated water the way so many lagers do after a few

moments in the mouth, the hop flavor reappears and stays on the tongue

so that when you finally swallow, it goes down crisp.

In this

way it straddles the line between a full lager and a thin

pale ale, which makes it the perfect gateway beer. If you have a friend

who only drinks Budweiser and you're trying to transition into more

serious beers, this is the beer to buy. Hell, buy one for

granddad too. Yes, he may still love Schlitz but it's not too late for

him to embrace a real classic.

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