Bull E. Vard's Boulevard Lunch

Earlier this week, I received what may have been my favorite email ever. I was invited to the Boulevard Brewmaster's Luncheon as a guest of Boulevard. My only disappointment was that it wasn't the Luncheon cooked by Bluestem (you'd better get your spot booked now for that, because they're nearly full), instead it was cooked by Nick & Jake's/Wil Jenny's, which is a restaurant with which I'm unfamiliar. Please forgive the quality of my pictures, I was stuck using my camera phone, my kids went to Deanna Rose so Stella had the good camera.

I'd been looking forward to the luncheon all week capped off by last night when I slept like a gentile boy the night before Christmas. I showed up a couple of minutes early which is recommended because you get to go into the tasting room and prime the pump a little bit with some Tank 7 samplers. A couple of minutes after 11:30 we started up our private tour which is an abbreviated version of the full on regular tour. We got to sample some Two Jokers in the cellar room where they're aging some future versions of Smokestack beers (look at that Rye in the picture, I can't wait). We also got to see the bottling line run, which I hadn't seen before, it really is quite impressive.

We then settled in for lunch. Steven Pauwels, head brewer at Boulevard and my nominee for greatest Kansas Citian, introduced the menu, beer pairings and Wil Jenny's chef. The chef talked a little more in depth about the dishes and then the beer and food was served.

We started off with a salmon poached in Single Wide IPA served over some heart of romaine, avocado, heirloom tomatoes and a citrus vinaigrette. It was tough for me to maintain my conversation with Jeremy from Boulevard and the people sitting near me at the table. I mostly just wanted to shovel the food into my gullet as quickly as possible. I've never had poached salmon before so I have nothing to compare it to, but I can't imagine poached salmon to taste much better. It went wonderful with the Boulevard Wheat it with which it was paired.

The next course was a fire roasted green chile burger paired with Boulevard Pilsner. The burger also had jack cheese, a pilsner mustard and braised onions (I believe braised in Single Wide but I could have misheard or misremembered that) as well as some kettle fried chips. I'd seen a green chile burger on some Food Network show about burgers and I'd always wanted to try one. It was not a disappointment. The green chili's added just a great amount of heat that made you want to reach for the pilsner. I think I may have enjoyed the burger a little more with some Single Wide, but the Pilsner was nice as well.

At some point while we were eating the first two courses Steven Pauwels came over to introduce himself. Jeremy introduced me as Bull E. Vard, the one who wrote the Shawshank post, which is apparently an office favorite over there. John McDonald, founder of Boulevard, was sitting at my table and explained what a trippel was to the person sitting across from me while Jeremy explained that the Long Strange Tripel is actually named after a brewery worker named Trip (it's even his picture on the bottle). I picked up a bunch of other little tidbits that I have tucked away into my brain to be dispersed within numerous blog posts in the future. I learned so many interesting tidbits, I no longer can name the 4th lead in the 1984 movie “Oxford Blues”. A guy at the end of the table, Topeka Tripel heard that I was Bull E. Vard and introduced himself. I don't meet many readers, I mostly just assume that people want to punch me in the head for something I've written along the way. It was nice that Topeka Tripel didn't do that.

We got the dessert course which was a strawberry shortcake type creation with a sweet biscuit instead of shortcake. It was also topped with fresh whipped cream, some blueberries and fresh mint leaves. This was paired with Long Strange Tripel, by far the best beer of the lunch. Unfortunately it was paired with the course I enjoyed the least. I thought the biscuit ended up being a little too bready for the amount of strawberries included. I ended up only eating about half of the biscuit but all the strawberries and whipped cream. Boulevard considers strawberries and tripel a match made in heaven and I'm inclined to agree, it was a nice pairing that really brought out the best in the Long Strange Tripel.

Topeka Tripel and his gang talked Jeremy into taking them up to the green roof so I tagged along after grabbing a glass of Tank 7 (the taps are open in the Muehlebach room in case you don't get your fill with the lunch). It's pretty neat up there with a little walkway through the green area which is sedum and not grass (so no mowing). We went back down and hung out on the balcony overlooking downtown KC. I somehow got into my Nebraska food rant while talking to Topeka Tripel wherein I make fun of frenchies (grilled cheese sandwiches dipped in batter and deep fried) and Runzas (bierocks). I was overheard by some Nebraskans sitting nearby who loved frenchies (especially the ones from Don & Millies). Rather than discuss some more, I finished off my glass of Tank 7, grabbed my complimentary Smokestack series glass and made my leave.

The Brewmaster's Luncheon was a really good time. If you have the $35 necessary to attend, I would highly recommend it. At the very least you'll get to drink some Boulevard beer, get a nice little tour, a new Smokestack glass and have some lunch. Steven Pauwels was real good at working the room and answering questions so you should get a chance to talk to him if you so desire.
Upcoming events:
  • Friday, August 14th; featured food pairings by Pierpont's
  • Friday, September 25th; featured food pairings by bluestem
  • Friday, October 9th; featured food pairings by KC Hopps

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