Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nutcracker Special Reserve, Irish Rye and Test Brew #2

I spent part of my Saturday doing the Boulevard Brewery tour with some friends from out of town. The tour itself hasn't changed much since earlier this summer, but now they have a slick new video about the brewery and the brewing process. The highlight of the video had to be Trip Hogue's "Trip Down Memory Lane." I was a little surprised to see the barrels in the aging room of the old brewhouse didn't seem to have changed at all in the past five months. I realize that's the idea when you lager beer... but I was expecting to see some new names written in chalk on the wooden barrels. Amongst all the "6th" and "Imperial Stout" barrels I did notice is that the "RYE" barrels were still there, and they've been lagering since March. The tour guide said that the barrels were old Jack Daniel's barrels that they use to age Sixth Glass, Bourbon Barrel Quad and the Imperial Stout. I asked him what was in the Templeton Rye barrels at the end of the room and he said it was an Irish Red Rye. He didn't elaborate on whether this was a new Rye beer aged in whiskey barrels, or if it was just last year's Irish Ale that was aged in Templeton Rye barrels... so I guess we'll have to wait and see.

In the tasting room at the end of the tour there were a couple more surprises. In addition to the usual lineup there was still Tank 7 which seems destined to spend it's days on tap, rather than in a Smokestack bottle. Rumors have been circulating for quite a while that Tank 7 would replace the original Saison Smokestack but there seems to be some reluctance to make that a reality. I mean, Tank 7 has been on tap at the brewery for about six months now... As a side note, only two people out of our group of nine preferred the Tank 7 to the original Saison. Not a scientific study by any means, but it echoes what I've heard from other people who've had the Tank 7.

Also on tap was the Nutcracker Special Reserve. Perhaps better known as the Nut Sack, this beer is the left overs from the stuffed pantyhose hopping process. I'm a big fan of the vanilla Nutcracker (ie plain jane Nutcracker, although a vanilla version of Nutcracker sounds really good) and I like this hoppier version quite a bit too. Being a dark and malty beer, the Nutcracker can handle a strong hopping better than other styles might. The official name of this beer is Nutcracker Special Reserve, but everyone seemed to refer to it as the Nut Sack. If you get a close up look at the tap handle you'll even see a pair of dangling cherries, nice...

Lastly, there was a test brew on tap in the tasting room. The tap handle just said "Test Brew #2" and we were told it was an experimental Amber. The beer was definitely red but had a little dark orange haziness to it. It tasted... like an Amber, oddly enough. The only remarkable quality that I noticed was that this beer wasn't as hoppy or as bitter as other Ambers I'd had, which made it smooth and easy to drink. I started off with the Amber so it'd be the first thing on my palate and then had two more glass of it at the end of our session. I was a bit underwhelmed with this test brew, but it's something the brewers are still tinkering with so we'll have to wait and see how it turns out.

I asked around about the Bourbon Barrel Quad but no one would give any specifics on a release date. I'd heard previously that it'd hit the market shortly after Harvest Dance so it may reach a liquor store near you sooner than you think.


  1. The rye aging in the Templeton Rye barrels is their Rye on Rye Smokestack. I'd heard it was due out this month, but not sure when they're actually going to release it.

    At the last brewmasters luncheon we sat across from the COO of Boulevard (can't recall his name at the moment) and I asked him how they came across the barrels. He said that a bottle of the BBQ ended up at the distillery in Templeton, IA. They were so impressed with it they called up Blvd and said they had some extra Rye barrels and wanted to know if they were interested in them. Blvd said sure, and when they ended up at the brewery, they all kind of looked at each other and said, "Well, what are we going to put in here?" Ended up being the Rye on Rye. Can't wait to try it, I'm a big fan of rye beers, as well as Templeton Rye. If you're in IA, stop at a local liquor store and pick some up, well worth it.

  2. They've already bottled at least one run of the Tank 7 and they have also bottled two runs of BBQ so things are moving along.