Founded in 1989, Kansas City, Missouri’s Boulevard Brewing has grown to be a big player and specialty brewer in the Midwest. In 1988, founder John McDonald started construction of his brewery in a near 100 year old brick building in Kansas City’s historic Southwest Boulevard District.
A major expansion occurred in 2006, allowing brewing capacity to rise to 600,000 barrels a year all nestled in a 70,000-square-foot building that houses a 150 barrel brew house, packaging lines and offices.
Its Smokestack Series of beers have become known for complex, bold beer experiments that allow the brewer to reach beyond the standard craft brew. There are six year-round releases in the series; The Calling IPA, Tell Tale Tart wild ale, Tank 7 farmhouse ale, The Sixth Glass quadruple, Long Strange Tripel and Dark Truth Stout.
Limited releases in this series also occur, which is the case with what I have in front of me today, Chocolate Ale with Raspberry, a 9.1 percent ABV ale sporting 24 IBUs and an original gravity of 19.9. It is brewed with Topaz hops and a malt combination of pale, caracrystal wheat and oats and adjuncts of cacao nibs and raspberry juice concentrate.
Poured from a 750ml bottle, the color is a deep hazy burnt orange color with several fingers of white-pink head and a plethora of ultra small fizzy bubbles that are all over the place. Aromas of roasted chocolate and a sour raspberry essence are present.
First taste is full of fresh raspberry juice, slightly tart and dark chocolate which takes a back seat but still remains a player. Balance is good, allowing all flavors to participate. Carbonation is ample and the mouthfeel is slightly tart, sweet with raspberries and cooling, smooth and creamy with milk chocolate. Balance remains nice, but would have wished for a touch more of the chocolatedy goodness that lies just beneath the surface. The is clean, semi-dry and tart and tannic from the raspberries. Alcohol stays to the back of this adventure and only as the beer warms, does it play a minor roll.