The brewers [Jean-Marie Rock, brewmaster at Orval and Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels] will produce an Imperial Pilsner similar to a lager brewed by Rock at the start of his career. It will, according to Pauwels, be a tribute to Pilsner beers; full flavored and refreshing, brewed with 100% Pilsner malt and 100% Saaz hops, using time-honored techniques.
Some of the guys are suckers for anything Belgian. There’s a faction of the guys that swears only by the renaissance of American craft brewers and almost nothing else. So when two brewers get together to merge the two camps together, what’s going to happen? Will it be like mixing oil and water? Or will it be like creating antimatter? You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! You got your Belgian in my Kansas City based craft brew! Let’s see:
Ryan: Right off the bat the Orval influence in this collaboration is already evident. This beer pours hazy yellow in color with damn near a fists worth of fluffy, white head.
A good whiff of this beer brings a crisp, clean aroma of hops and a bit of lemon.
The taste is a mix of spices, cloves, banana and lemon. In fact, this beer tastes and feels more like a Belgian Tripel than a pilsner. It has a certain syrupy thickness to it and decent carbonation.
The imperial aspect to this beer, the 8% ABV, is barely noticeable – even as it warms.
This is a good summertime beer that would pair pretty well with a nice thick, juicy burger or a grilled chicken breast.
Andrew: I’ll start off by saying I wasn’t too impressed by the Imperial Pils. It’s a great looking beer – pours a hazy golden color with big, light, frothy head. I detected notes of hops and yeast in the nose, very crisp. The beer was smooth, the carbonation was not over the top, and the slight hoppiness worked well with the citrus and honey. Coming in at an 8% ABV I could see myself getting in trouble drinking a beer like this by myself, it is a very easy drinker.
I enjoyed the beer but there wasn’t anything about it that really stood out to me. It was solid, nothing more.
Karl: The Imperial Pilsner started off a pretty epic evening of beer drinking and reviewing, so I can honestly say I went into this with a clear head – and I’m kinda bummed to say that the Boulevard Imperial Pilsner did almost nothing for me.
My first thoughts as it was poured were, sadly, “Well, it looks like Budweiser.” Very frothy, and just like a regular pilsner, only…well, more of it. If that’s your thing, then you’ll love it, but to my palate it’s just like amping up a macrobrew. You know how Dark Horse took everything that went into a Crooked Tree and just doubled everything and it turns out doubly awesome?? It seems to me that this is basically the same idea, but without the awesome.
I got just a taste of banana from the Pilsner and a little sparkle of either 7-up or Sprite as well. The finish had a cloying, almost sticky feel, like when you’re dehydrated or really thirsty and then chug a can of soda – that coating of high fructose corn syrup feel, which wasn’t exactly pleasant. Sorry, Boulevard, this one wasn’t doing it for me. Can’t win ’em all. Thankfully, your Rye-on-Rye was up next which…well, we’ll save that one for next time. But you redeemed yourself with that one, in spades.
Bottom line for me: You know that friend of yours that might be a bit of a lightweight but also swears by standard macrobrew swill? Switch out one of his normal pints for the Boulevard and watch him/her get hammered on the incredibly smooth and subtle 8% ABV. Fun for the whole family!