During a trip to Europe in 1984, John McDonald discovered Belgian beers in a local bar. He fell in love with the style and variety and returned home wanting to start a brewery. He aimed to create a vintage Bavarian brewhouse and was so committed to his new business idea that he sold his house to raise money. That brewery became Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co.

Despite only listing 165 beers on their Untappd page, Boulevard is known for its series and variants, one of which is its Rye-on-Rye. This whiskey barrel-aged rye ale has been brewed by the brewery since at least 2010. 

For the most part, the brewery has kept the base beer the same. However, there have been some variants have been released:

Rye on Rye Maple was first introduced in April 2020. Bottled a month prior, the base beer is brewed with five types of malts, Magnum, Bravo and Styrian Golding hops, and a house Scottish yeast. The finished brew was then stored in barrels previously used to make Templeton Rye whiskey.

However, these were not just any Templeton barrels. These particular barrels had originally been “used to age Templeton Rye 4, then filled with Vermont maple syrup for two months, then re-filled with whiskey to create Templeton Rye Maple Cask Finish.” This was the first time Boulevard has used maple syrup barrels to age Rye on Rye.

It was aged in four different ways as well:

  • 31 percent — Templeton Rye Maple Cask Finish barrels
  • 35 percent — Templeton 4 year barrels
  • 27 percent — Templeton 4 year barrels with Maple syrup added after 8 months
  • 7 percent — 2018 Rye on Rye, double barrel-aged

This maple variant features a 13.2 percent ABV and an IBU rating of 16.

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a Willie glass, this imperial stout is a dark caramel color that is relatively murky and opaque. Head retention is excellent, with a robust and foamy top and moderate lacing. The brewery describes the aroma as a mix of “maple syrup, caramel, butterscotch, hazelnut, and oaky vanilla.” Perhaps since this beer is over one year old, some of those notes have dropped off. But I only picked up caramel and butterscotch, which are unique to this variant, along with very light nutty and vanilla notes.

Having been aged in barrels, the body of Rye on Rye Maple is reasonably smooth. The lower carbonation likely plays a factor as well. It has the feel of a big beer, but the body is only medium light and stays well away from being heavy. I don’t notice any maple syrup flavor, but it contains a sugary sweetness with some syrup contributions. The majority of the flavor profile has a slight apple juice feel and it is not nearly as complex as I had expected. Initially, there are very light alcohol notes, and those drastically increase as it warms.

Rye on Rye Maple finishes very boozy with a sweet butterscotch and bourbon taste that lingers on the tongue. There is a nice alcohol warmth stemming from the barrel aging. However, the cloying finish is too overpowering and not representative of the beer.

Boulevard Rye on Rye Maple
BREWERY: Boulevard Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Kansas City, Mo.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.2 Percent
IBU: 16
PRICE: $4.37
RELEASE DATE: April 6, 2020
AVAILABLE IN: 12-Ounce Bottles
BEERS POURED: One
As a Boulevard fan, especially of its bigger beers, I had higher expectations for this one that were not met. Despite its age, I still expected some maple syrup flavor to come through. While I enjoyed the lighter and smooth mouthfeel, it was mostly a boozy, butterscotch and apple juice beer that was not enjoyable. Sometimes breweries try to get too complex and the resulting beer ends up a muddle mess. This one was certainly unique but also certainly not something I would purchase again.
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