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Hill made a face like he might throw up.
"Let me come back when I can get that taste out of my mouth. He moved on, scanning far aisles for a bottle of white zinfandel. "Ack! It's still there!" he shouted.
Ignoring the unenlightened, Boulevard is about to go even more gourmet. This fall, Boulevard will release the Smokestack Series, a line of four strong specialty brews. Symbolic of Boulevard's effort to target highbrow consumers, the new beers will come in 25.4-ounce, champagne-style bottles.
On July 13, about 30 lawyers surround high-top tables in the clubhouse-style back room of the Granfalloon for a monthly meeting of the Kansas City Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association. Among them is Patrick Reavey, an Anderson Cooper look-alike who settles onto his bar stool. A self-proclaimed beer snob, Reavey is the kind of guy who would rather drink water than Miller Lite. He is eager to order the same thing that's waiting for him in a six-pack at home, a Boulevard Pale Ale.
The waitress stops him. "We don't have Boulevard Pale Ale," she says.
Reavey tromps to the bar to investigate. He finds that the only pale ale handle at the bar belongs to Schlafly. In late March, Boulevard lost its Pale Ale tap at the Granfalloon to its cross-state rival.
But Boulevard will soon have a chance to win it back. On August 1, the Granfalloon kicked off a kind of I-70 series: Schlafly versus Boulevard.
The event is being held at the Plaza and Northland locations. Throughout the month, patrons will compete in head-to-head drink-offs to see which brand's pale ale is more popular. Boulevard's distributor, Central States, will help provide I-70 series banners, table tents and T-shirts for the bar staff. Boulevard rep Colgan plans to bring in a new weapon for the brewery: "Boulevard girls." The women, provided by Boulevard's distributor, will offer free samples and "Vote for Pale Ale" stickers to sway the crowd.
Granfalloon manager Tim Caniglia hasn't promised which brewery will get the tap handle afterward. It's a win-win for his bar, whatever happens.
Colgan wonders if it's really good for his business. "It's a double-edged sword, a little bit, because we're going to promote their brand, too."
At the meeting of lawyers, Reavey decides he might as well order a Schlafly.
"I like the taste," he tells the men around him. "It's good. Really good."
"Don't you want to support the local economy?" someone shouts over the laughter and clinking bar glasses. Reavey decides that his beer is a luxury good purchased on one standard: quality.
"If it tastes good, that's what I'm gonna buy," he says.
That sixer in the fridge back home? He's already thinking of replacing it.