Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri. Except for a few tiny samples at a few tastings, this is the first time I've ever had beer from this brewery. My thanks are directed at my traveling co-worker who picked up my order in Houston, carefully packaged the beers for travel, and delivered them directly to my cubicle. Also thanks to Twitter friend Dave (yes, I'll wait for you to go follow him now) for recommending SpecsOnline, which turned out to be an awesome retailer to deal with over the phone.
This beer comes in a corked and caged wine bottle. Both the label and cage let you know this is part of Boulevard's Smokestack Series, number 9 in that series to be exact. Forget fancy-dragon-beast-mountain-scene label designs too. This label is simple yet elegant, paisley blue with a focus around the number 7. The back label tells you a little story about how this beer was named. Basically, it's lovingly named after fermenter #7, a piece of equipment that doesn't always do what it's asked to do. Batch 711273. Best By 06-2012.
So that really nice cage--yeah, probably not even necessary considering how difficult it was to take out the cork. There was a good pop and the head was enormous and billowy so I guess it was a good idea. I actually never learned with this beer that it was going to overflow my glass. Three times. Jeez. Genius.
Lemon rind, citrus, and coriander are the first flavors to hit my palate. I felt like the high level of carbonation really made those initial sips a bit rough. Definitely funky, of course in a good way and not over the top. Hay and damp laundry, yeasty. Fruity apples add a little sweetness and a little tartness. The beer is spicy beginning to end.
Now, as I mentioned above, the warmth helped bring out a tropical and fruity aroma. Guess what? Ditto on the flavors. So take note now not to open this up right out of the fridge. Wait 15 or 20 minutes. The initial sharpness is totally soothed by some beautiful sweet apples, pears and peaches. That warmth made all the difference--this is a most excellent beverage.
Carbonation is creamy and fine, yet really works the palate. The finish sports some bitterness, a bit grassy and more than I expected, but this was definitely well balanced. A yeasty funky aftertaste, nice and dry, lasts long after the sip is gone. I'm not sure the 8.0% alcohol is really that noticeable, except that the finish is dry and that after a full wine bottle, you always know. Flavor-wise, nicely incorporated. Very enjoyable beer. I love this style as it always seems to grow on you more and more with each sip. This was no exception. Great beer! Wish they distributed to my neck of the woods!
Tank 7 Revisited: 4/6/2013
Decided not to dedicate an entire new post for this review. Just a few more paragraphs and a few more pictures after trying Tank 7 for the second time. I acquired this bottle in a trade with one of Boulevard's brewers. This is the 12 ounce baby brother of the wine bottle above, sporting a cool sleek shape. Best By 04/20/13.
Taking my own advice from above, I let the bottle warm up a little before cracking it open. Hello enormous fluffy head. Waiting for that to recede let the beer warm up a little too.
Bright aroma, though not super powerful. Lemony, grassy, fruity orange, very pleasant in the nose. Fruity and tropical mango, peach and apple burst and coat your palate completely from the first sip. There is a noticeable yeasty farmhouse hay funk from the beginning too. Oh, and this guy is kind of hoppy too.
Spicy coriander, pepper, and lemon rind add some really nice complexities. Carbonation is strong and adds refreshment. The 8.0% alcohol is noticeable and really helps enhance the fruity flavors. Complex, flavorful, balanced. Exactly what you want in a saison. Loved it!