A cardboard box containing a 12-pack of Boulevard Wheat was returned to the Boulevard Brewery on Wednesday. That wouldn't be breaking news except the cardboard box Eric Henry brought to the brewery was a sealed 12-pack of Boulevard's earliest beer.
"My office is pretty close to Boulevard and they're a real admirable company. I just thought they might be interested in having it," says Henry, co-owner of the City Cement Concrete Construction Company at 65 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas.
He remembers buying what would have been some of the first Boulevard Wheat sold in the city at a liquor store on the corner of 43rd and State Line. It was just before Christmas -- the box is stamped with the words "first run, December 21, 1990."
He decided to store the 12-pack in his basement, keeping it dry through two moves by storing it between the floor joists above the rock foundation of his basement. As to why he never opened it, Henry can't say exactly.
"I'm not a collector, I'm a pack-rat. I have a small house, so I have to be careful about what I hold on to."
But after Henry saw an article on Boulevard in the Kansas City Business Journal, he felt compelled to let the company know what he'd hung on to for 19 years.
"We were delighted to see it. So many people at the brewery had never
even seen the original packaging for the Wheat Beer, which was
discontinued after the rise in popularity of the Unfiltered version we
produce today," says Jeremy Ragonese, Boulevard's director of marketing.
"I asked Jeremy if he thought it would be still be good, but he figured it would best be left in the bottle," says Henry.
It will likely join the first-run six-pack that's currently on display at the tasting room, a part of Boulevard's history.
"I don't know that it would get through our tasting panel at this time, but it's a nice reminder of the legacy of one of our brands. It's surprising to most that Wheat Beer has even been around that long, but we're all glad there are many more years ahead for it as well," says Ragonese.
Although Boulevard offered to trade in the old beer for a new 12-pack of Pale Ale, Henry refused. Not out of an aversion to Pale Ale -- he says "it's some of the best beer ever" -- but because he remembers an experience from his days at John Rohrer Contractors.
"A guy had an old slide rule, a promotional item from the 1950s. And he wanted to sell it to me. I bought it, but I thought that was pretty tacky," says Henry. So, faced with the prospect of giving another company back a piece of its history, Henry was just glad they were interested.
I asked him if he thought there might be any City Cement artifacts floating around town from the company's beginnings in 2004.
"We're low budget. We've got our offices down here on the Boulevard and we haven't even printed T-shirts yet."
So even if Boulevard can't return the favor some day, it has one heck of a neighbor.