Sunday, December 6, 2009

Changes at Boulevard

I took a tour of the recently re-modeled Boulevard this weekend and was pretty impressed with the changes. Rather than sitting through a video in the gift shop, you now hit the ground running while watching video snippets as they apply to the different portions of the brewery. Everything looks great, and the flow seems to be better. I especially like the stop in the barrel-aging room for the Smokestack series. If you've never been on a tour, or haven't been in a while, it's definitely worth checking out.

One of the more noticeable changes on the tour was the addition of sample tokens, which were on a test run on Saturday. Boulevard is the only brewery I've been to that never restricted samples, so it wasn't all that surprising of a CYA move.

During the tour, our guide mentioned the Lunar Ale will soon be moving off of taps to strictly bottles. The only real question I have is, "Where is at actually on tap at?" Lunar seems to grow on me every time I try it, but I never really go out of my way to make that happen. I would imagine they will try to replace Lunar with another offering at those locations with it on tap, but I have no idea what that might be.

Finally, Boulevard has been selling a couple wines for a while in their gift shop, a Viognier and Chardonnay. On this visit, I noticed a Cabernet Franc featuring the Pipjak label that will be the line's brand name. Pipjak is a reference to the two children of Boulevard owner John McDonald. I bought a couple bottles but have yet to crack them open to give any kind of opinion.


  1. The only tours I have been to in America's Heartland are AB and Boulevard. In my experience I wouldn't considered Boulevard to have unlimited samples as the short time for sampling, small glasses, and long lines constituted a limit. Also you basically had to stand in line while drinking your last sample if you wanted more, which was not enjoyable. The tokens are an improvement as far as I am concerned.

    A lot (certainly not all) of West Coast breweries had unlimited samples with less restrictive time, sample size and people per pourer restrictions. I drank enough at Anchor to get fairly tipsy and Lagunitus was crazy. They were bringing over pints of all of the 6-7 beers they had on tap, most of them quite strong. I couldn't finish it all. That said, I don't go on tours for free beer and if I can have 5-6 ounces of a couple of beers that I can't normally get, that is exactly what I am looking for.

    Good to see they are changing the format of the tour. It was easily the worst I have ever been on. A stupid movie, 15 minutes talking about the floor on the bottling line observation area, and then walking through the (very nice, very new, very modern) brew house as quickly as possible. AB had a similar format, but it was better executed and frankly if I am going to stand and stare at a packaging facility, the AB one is more interesting.

    I went on a small private tour of Boulevard with a home brewing club that was one of the best tours I have been on, so it is nothing intrinsically wrong with Boulevard. We went through the old brew house and the guy giving the tour had been a brewer (and currently worked in QA).

  2. Hmmm... looks like they changed up the cab franc a bit with the new label. Higher alcohol content for sure. The first version was pretty smooth for a cab but not incredibly complex, very enjoyable for a guy who's not much of a wine drinker. Still haven't cracked open the chardonnay or viognier yet.

  3. my lady tried the red a few days ago, it was a bit too tanic for her tastes

    me I am a wine dumbass