If you've taken a Boulevard Brewery tour in the last six months or so you've probably sampled, or as least heard about, their "experimental" Amber Ale. The first I heard of this beer was back in November when it was in its second run. I wasn't too keen on the Amber Ale, then labeled "Test Brew #2," and just wrote it off as another amber. This is a style I'm a bit ambivalent toward... ambers aren't usually my first choice but I wouldn't pass one up just because it's labeled an amber. I didn't exactly take tasting notes of the second test batch of Boulevard Amber, but I do remember thinking it tasted a lot like every other amber I'd had, if a little less bitter. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Here we are six months later and I've gotten my hands on several bottles of Boulevard Amber Test #3. Aside from being 1 more than the previous iteration, these beers are bottled and came to me... I didn't have to stand in line and gamble away a tasting token to try something I'd sort of had before (and didn't really like). So far so good... My first impressions of the #3 were a bit lackluster. There isn't much of an aroma to this beer. It smells vaguely malty with only the slightest hint of caramel. That's all. There wasn't a whole lot going on to appease your nose, but this was a good looking beer. It's copper colored but not as filtered as you might expect. When poured into my pint glass it really looked like a Tripel, with its cloudy reddish orange body and generous off-white head.
Things got quite a bit better as I drank my way through this glass of Boulevard Amber. The flavor is much sweeter than I was expecting. I've come to expect amber style beers to be crisp, respectably bitter and a little hoppy. The hop arms race has lead to ambers being increasingly hoppy and bitter, something that has made me a little hesitant to drink more them. Boulevard's Amber, at least this 3rd test version, was very well balanced. The bitterness was quite subdued and the sweetness was bumped up several notches.
I ended up enjoying the Amber Test #3 quite a bit, so much so that I'm actually kind of excited about the pending release of the final product. I've heard that the bottles you'll see on shelves will be filled with a 4th batch of Boulevard Amber. I have it on good authority (I've always wanted to say that...) that the 3rd and 4th batches are pretty similar.
If you'd like to get your hands on a bottle of Boulevard Amber you'll have to wait 60(ish) days before they start showing up inside 12-pack samplers, even longer if you want a six pack of just Amber Ale. If you're looking to get this beer on draft you'll have to drive up to Omaha or Lincoln... I guess Nebraska is big on ambers because Boulevard will be using that as their test market. I don't have an ETA on when the Boulevard Amber kegs roll into the Cornhusker State so feel free to drop me a line or post a comment if you have any info.