Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Theme Park

It was a crazy week last week that I don't think Kansas City has ever seen beerwise. It was much like going to an amusement park. A day at the amusement park is unlike any other day of the year, you get on rides, you're thrust, shot and spun all around on ride after ride. You just feel different after a day like that. Chocolate week was just like that. Everyday housewives and non beer people were calling every liquor store in town seeking the Chocolate presumably finding some, then hopping in the car and driving to the store as quickly as possible and buying as many bottles as they could. The high of buying a bottle of Chocolate Ale had to be similar to the high of stepping off the Mamba. Then, taking that bottle home and drinking it and realizing it really lived up to the hype which so few things do. And then wanting more, desperately seeking more.

Later in the week, Chocolate Ale starting hitting the taps and another rush was on especially for the seekers who never got a bottle. The bars in town carrying it on tap went through kegs of super premium beer more quickly than they ever had. Once you found it on draft, you had to get there as quickly as you could. And you were treated to an experience even better than drinking a bottle of it. The high of drinking both a bottle and a glass on draft can hardly be matched by any day of riding roller coasters.

I was so unprepared for the onslaught of chocolate seekers that I took my time getting it Tuesday morning. My friend J texted me Tuesday morning with just the word "Tipsy's?". I gave him a call because I had to go to Costco as well and he did too. So, amazingly, we went to Costco first. When we got to Tipsy's they still had 6 cases left, when we left, they had a little over 4. We saw at least 3 people come in and buy multiple bottles and this was 10:30 in the morning on a Tuesday.

We popped open one of our bottles that night and Stella loved it as much as I thought she would. I was a tad disappointed with it at first because it wasn't quite as good as I remembered it from Gents KC. It had more carbonation than I thought was ideal, but as it warmed it became the beer I remembered. We opened another bottle for our parents before my girls' 6th birthday party and everyone loved it, including my mother who proclaimed they were going to stop at the liquor store by their house in Wichita on their way home.

After the birthday party, Stella and I left the kids with their grandparents for an hour and made our way to the nearest place we knew still had Chocolate on tap, Boozefish. Unlike any other beer I've had, the Chocolate Ale is completely different on tap. That pesky carbonation isn't there as much and the chocolate is completely in charge. My only complaint with it on tap, is that it doesn't taste like beer, it almost tastes like hot chocolate, but really good hot chocolate like you get at Christopher Elbow. I had 2 glasses, and while we had to leave, I don't think I could have had a third. If Boulevard does this again next year, it would be great if they could find a middle ground between the bottled and draft versions.

Another wave of Chocolate Ale is hitting select stores this morning, Royal Liquors on State Line and 103rd and on SW Blvd. are receiving several cases. You may want to call your nearest liquor superstore to find out if they are getting another shipment today. If you haven't gotten to try any this is your last chance.

As far as Chocolate Ale coming back, it is being strongly considered. Really, how could they not consider it? They created a beer frenzy unlike this city has ever seen and maybe unlike any city has ever seen. But, consider this, how rockstar would it be to never make it again? With more collaborations on the way, maybe they can once again capture the city like they did with Chocolate Ale, maybe they can't. But, the average beer drinker in town will certainly take notice of each. If the hype over collaborations ceases, Boulevard can always do Chocolate again in 5 years.


  1. First things first: I enjoyed the beer, though half a bottle was plenty for me.

    To quantify the "hype": there are several bottles on eBay right now with bids as high as $52.

    Ridiculous. I still haven't had a beer that justifies that nonsense.

    The frenzy and high are the same as what people feel when they snag their deal on a limited quantity item for Black Friday. There is a sense of triumph when you get the last Wii, Tickle Me Elmo, whatever.

    That's what fueled the craziness. Boulevard couldn't have envisioned this kind of demand from non-beer-drinkers, so it's not their fault.

    The psychological rush of tracking one down, the local pride/cachet of the Boulevard/Elbow collaboration, the fact that everyone is talking about it (it made the news for crissakes), then feeling the "victory" of tasting one.

    Again: I liked the beer. But we wouldn't be talking about this if Avery and some artisan chocolatier out of Boulder released the same beer.

  2. I just re-read this and it sounded more negative than I wanted it to.

    I am appalled by the eBay prices, yes.

    I should add that this can't be a bad thing for KC's beer scene. More drinkers of good beer (including any potential converts from Chocolate Ale) = more good beer. Win.

  3. I just called Gomer's and the guy I talked with said his Boulevard rep was there at the time. He denied that there was any second wave of the Chocolate Ale coming to KC, and that anyone getting anything today was getting their first shipment -- places like Minnesota, etc. Anyway, I can't say for sure what's what, but wanted folks who are looking to know. Good luck!

  4. Shannon, the Royals I mentioned are getting their second shipment. State Line Royal is already sold out and the Blvd Royal will be charging $25/bottle. It's very possible those are the only 2 stores in town getting another shipment.

    JJS, I disagree a little with "But we wouldn't be talking about this if Avery and some artisan chocolatier out of Boulder released the same beer." I think this is a very unique beer and is definitely newsworthy. I also know that we were getting 3x the traffic we normally get and 10x the comments. I think chocolate beer made by respectable brands like Elbow and Boulevard is going to get a certain amount of attention from non beer people.

  5. I guess I'm saying "we" wouldn't be talking about it here in Kansas City. Boulder/Denver would.

  6. Not a fan of the whole selling/trading thing (maybe a limited amount of the latter but not buying out cases of limited beers for the purpose of trading it) but $52 is not even close to the most grotesque price beer has gone for on the ebay.

    My preference would be that people buy the beer because they want to drink it and in quantities that respect the desire of others to drink it and the availability. Unfortunately I cannot enforce my preferences on others.

  7. Well said John.
    The whole black Friday comparison by JJSKC seems spot on too.
    I'm starting to wonder if this could be a gateway beer for those normally content with macros.
    Any taps left in midtown/downtown? Haven't tried much of that...

  8. Boulevard now has it on their website listed as a seasonal.. just an FYI

  9. Speaking of Boulevard, any info on a release date for the Imperial Stout? Word on the internets is that it's bottled and the label's approved...

  10. I disagree--not that it wasn't good, because it was, but I don't think it could have lived up to the hype if each opened bottle had released a genie bestowing wishes of magical unicorns and rainbows and more wishes. It did improve as it warmed, and I'm not bonkers for chocolate beers, but it was well done. When they do this next year, I suspect most of the people who are so-so on beer but LOVE chocolate who did get to try this in 2011 are going to pass. Just a guess.