The Return of Boulevard Chocolate Ale

More than likely you have heard by now that Boulevard Brewing Co. will be releasing their Smokestack Series Chocolate Ale beginning next week.  Kansas City area bars and restaurants will see their allocations on Monday 2/2 with bottle deliveries to retail stores starting on Tuesday 2/3 and continuing through the week on each store’s regularly scheduled delivery day. 

Being still fairly new to the Kansas City area, this will be my first experience surrounding the anticipation for this particular Smokestack Series release.  Having observed it from the other side of the state in years past, I only have read and heard some of the stories the frenzy this beer causes.  I’m not here to add to that hype though.  I don’t think there is any reason to.  The beer will obviously sell itself and people will go to great lengths to try and get their hands on a bottle. 

However, I do think it is important with the Chocolate Ale release, and any limited beer release in general, to keep your expectations in line.  Whether you are a crafty veteran or a newcomer to the ‘sport’ of hunting down rare beers, there are some things to keep in mind regarding the release of Chocolate Ale. 

First, rare beer releases are becoming more commonplace by the day and stores are adapting.  Expect bottles to be limited to 1-2 per person.  You may also see sign up sheets being used by retailers or be required to have a rewards card with a particular store in order to purchase a bottle.  Second, Chocolate Ale is at a slightly higher price point than some other Smokestack Series releases.  Expect to see it retailing for between $10-$15.   Anything more than that and the store is likely taking advantage of the high demand.  Lastly, there is no perfect way to do this but we here at KC Beer Blog will be updating a live thread with retailers and bars that have received Chocolate Ale in order to help you track it down.  Check back regularly for updates.

In an attempt to help create a civil and peaceful release this week, I have compiled a list of some do’s and don’ts to remember while you're out there trying to track down a bottle.  These tips may not be obvious to everyone searching for Chocolate Ale but I think they are good rules of thumb to follow.  

·       DO call your local bottle shop/grocery store ahead of time to see if they have received their allocation.  Keep in mind though; stores are probably getting literally hundreds of calls asking about Chocolate Ale.  If you get a busy signal or the store doesn’t answer right away, don’t get discouraged and try back a little later.

·       DON’T be rude or disrespectful to employees at stores.  There really is no excuse for this. If a store sells out before you get there, politely thank them and leave or feel free to stay and browse through their other offerings. I bet that employee would be more than happy to show you around the store and provide some other recommendations.

·       DO check stores’ social media pages.  They will often post when they expect to receive their allocation and sometimes even instructions on how you can score a bottle.

·       DON’T hang out in stores waiting for their allocation to come in or try to follow delivery trucks around town.  I never have understood this and find it in poor taste. 

·       DO purchase some other products. If you are lucky enough to secure a bottle of Chocolate Ale, pick up a six-pack and 22 ounce bomber or some wine before checking out.  Limited releases are such a small percentage of a store’s business throughout the year.  Stores rely on their regular customers to make purchases the other 364 days of the year so they can be allocated these hard to find beers.  Help support these local businesses by picking up a little something extra before heading to your car.

·       DON’T buy more than you need. Even though some stores may not have a posted limit, there is no need to buy 12 bottles.  Leave some for others.  They will appreciate it.

·       DO share your bottles with friends and family.  More than likely they were out searching for this beer too and may not have been as lucky as you.  Open one with them and enjoy it together. 

·       DON’T try to sell bottles on the Internet for 10 times the retail price.  Just. Don’t.

·       DO keep an eye out for restaurants and bars around town that will have it on draft.  As mentioned above, you will start seeing Chocolate Ale on tap around town Monday 2/2.  If you missed out on the bottle release, there will still be plenty of opportunities to try Chocolate Ale.  Try to check Facebook or Twitter often to see when bars/restaurants will have it on draft along with the website, Drafster.  It is updated often and for the most part fairly current.

·       And finally…DON’T write angry emails, letters, tweets, etc. to Boulevard.  They brewed as much Chocolate Ale as they could so as many people as possible would get a chance to try it.  If you miss out on Chocolate Ale, pick up some of their other fantastic beers that are readily available at any store in town.  You won’t even have to drive around all day looking for them. 

I for one enjoy this beer and look forward to getting a bottle to share with my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day each year.  Neither of us is big on the holiday as a whole but splitting a bottle of Chocolate Ale on February 14th has become somewhat of a tradition of ours.  I also think any release that is being sought after by a casual or non-craft beer drinker seeking to try something new can start them down a path to discover other craft beers while ultimately strengthening and advancing the craft beer community as a whole.  Good luck out there.



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