Farewell, Chocolate Ale..For Now

Yesterday afternoon, the Twitter world began swirling up questions and controversy as rumors of Boulevard Chocolate Ale's demise began circulating. It started with a couple tweets from attendees at Kansas City's iKC innovation and entrepreneurship conference, who said that speaker John McDonald announced that there would be no Chocolate Ale in 2013. While the rumors remained just that for a few hours, I came back from a work meeting to find out that Boulevard had confirmed: Chocolate Ale will not be produced in 2013.

Here is the text from the official Boulevard press release, which can also be read here:

"On Wednesday, Boulevard Brewing Company announced that Chocolate Ale, one of the brewery’s Smokestack Series offerings, will not be produced in 2013. The announcement does not mean that the beer has been permanently retired, only that it won’t be a part of next year’s lineup.

It’s no secret that Boulevard faced challenges during the two previous releases of the popular seasonal beer, not least of which was satisfying surprisingly strong consumer demand. The company is actively working on several initiatives to help overcome these challenges, for Chocolate Ale as well as its other Smokestack Series seasonal and limited release offerings.

Boulevard will keep consumers informed over the coming months through its website and social media outlets. In the meantime, fans of the Kansas City company can look forward to some new additions to Boulevard’s portfolio, including 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer and Reverb Imperial Pilsner, both of which should be available later this summer."

Opinions on the announcement have been mixed, to say the least. Just go to Twitter and search 'Chocolate Ale' and you can see comments that run the gamut. The one that irritated me the most was from local Kansas City Star editorial columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, who claimed that Boulevard pulling the plug on Chocolate Ale was a 'victory.' While Chocolate Ale may not have been my favorite beer, I think it's absurd to call its temporary demise a victory when it was a product that injected the city with some excitement and helped bring money and attention to a local business. Don't worry, I am working on a friendly open letter to our local non-drinking curmudgeon and will post later.

Given the note about it not being permanently retired, it sounds like Chocolate Ale is getting the Two Jokers treatment, and being put on the back burner while Boulevard decides how to approach the beer again in the future. So now the question is, what will they do with this hole in the lineup? Will 2013 see a new beer in Chocolate Ale's place? And if and when Chocolate Ale makes a return, how will the beer or the release process be different?

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