From The Cellar: Boulevard Saison Brett

In Cellared Beer Reviews by The Guys

Boulevard says:

“Our gold-medal winning Saison (Mondial de la Biere, Montreal, 2008) was the inspiration for this limited edition ale. We brewed a slightly stronger version that was then dry hopped, followed by bottle conditioning with various yeasts, including Brettanomyces, a wild strain that imparts an earthy quality. Though this farmhouse ale is given three months of bottle age prior to release, further cellaring will continue to enhance the “Brett” character if that’s what you’re after.”

Boulevard Saison Brett
Saison, 8.5% ABV

Karl: Another bottle of Boulevard hopes and Smokestack dreams – as I’ve mentioned, every time Ryan hauls out a bomber/750 with one of these labels on it, my brain shoots off fireworks with memories of Rye-on-Rye and Bourbon Barrel Quad.  This is simultaneously good and bad – good because I know the potential for greatness is within, bad for the same reasons if/when that greatness I expect isn’t matched.

The Boulevard Saison Brett packs a lot of beer into one description – a gold medal Saison, dryhopped, bottle conditioned, aged 3 months, sour profile, etcetera, etcetera.  With all that promise, could I get all that I want and all that’s been described out of it?  In a word: no.  In a few more words:  But it was worth a shot.

The Saison Brett pours with a nice thick climb-the-walls-of-the-glass head, with a dirty copper color.  It’s definitely cloudy, with that bottle-conditioned haziness that comes with the territory.  Beyond that, the best way to describe the rest of the Saison Brett is: “Medium body, light flavor.”  There was a distinct moment after the first few tastes where my brain immediately asked, “where is it?”  Despite all the this-and-that characteristics in the description, there was a definite lack of anything standing out other than a sense of a cream soda presence.

Dryhopping?  Didn’t get it.  Any tartness or sour?  Not a bit, not for me.  Beyond that, this seems to be a “window beer”, and yes, I’m coining a phrase.  A window beer is one where there is a window of time in which to drink it, and after which the window closes the taste dissipates and it loses a lot of the reason to drink it in the first place.  After the Boulevard Saison Brett has settled for a while, the sweetness dies off and you’re left with not much to point to.  The window has closed on the Boulevard Saison Brett.

I mean, the flavor is sessionable, I could power down a couple of these (despite the size) if not for the heavy body of the beer.  It almost seems like Boulevard just threw a bunch of stuff against the wall (or in the bottle) just to see what stuck.  Maybe we got a bad batch, but not much stuck at all.

Ryan: The aftermath of drinking this reminded me of a great first date that was only great on one end.  You know what I’m talking about; you go out, you have fun, good conversation, some chemistry.  But after your phone call a few days later goes un-returned you wonder what went wrong.  Or really what did you do wrong?  That’s what this beer left me thinking; what did I do wrong?  I cellared you under the proper conditions.  I even let you warm a little before pouring you in the tulip glasses in hopes that would bring out more flavor.  But somewhere along the way something went wrong because this did not meet my expectations.

This beer poured a cloudy, murky orange in color with billowing, Belgiany white foam that tried to crawl its way out of the glass.  The nose was filled with spices and a bit of tartness.  Sadly, that tartness did not really materialize in my first sip, or my second…or my third.  The flavor was somewhat light and rather creamy.  I was able to catch a smidge of tartness on the back-end long after the beer was poured.  Otherwise, this reminded me of a good Belgian Golden Ale.  As Karl mentioned it was pretty sessionable despite packing an 8.5% ABV.

Maybe reading of all the wonderful things that were in this beer I elevated my expectations.  Or maybe I messed something up in the cellaring process.  Or maybe it really is past its prime.  Who knows what really happened but this beer just didn’t stack up.  Maybe I’ll hunt down another bottle and re-adjust my expectations and see what happens.

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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.