Steven and Larry Sitting in a Bar C-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-n-g

We got word about a week and a half ago that the Gents were invited to a special deal at Boulevard with Larry Sidor and Steven Pauwels. What the deal was wasn't that clear, but when you're invited to Boulevard to drink, you go. Especially if you get to hang out with Pauwels and the brewmaster of Deschutes, Sidor. We were getting to drink in the 2nd floor employee bar, they made a sign for us and everything. The last time I got to drink at the employee bar, I got to drink Tank 7 before it came out.

I started off with a Boulevard Pilsner and had Steven eyeing me the entire time I drank it. For some reason, he found it funny how I drink beer. Then Larry and Steven described the process of how Collaboration #2 was born, Nate from KC Brew Review has the story if you're interested (he was there too, but he's decidedly not a Gent). And then we got to try a test batch that Larry had brewed in Oregon (correction: the beer we had was brewed by Boulevard).

This was just a test brew so it's not the beer that will be bottled and sold. This is a good thing and a bad thing. A bad thing, because the test brew was wonderful to drink. It was floral, light and very drinkable. Steven explained that it had coriander, sage and orange peel thrown in and that was fairly evident in the beer. Some thought the sage flavor was a little strong, but I didn't get that. What I also didn't get was the hoppy flavor that would be present in a beer labeled an IPA. Centennial, Citra and Cascade hops are in the beer giving off a citrus taste, but that bitter bite of most IPA's just wasn't there for me. It was an excellent beer, but if they sold it as a white IPA, some people might be a little upset. So, it's a good thing this wasn't the finished product, but a beer that was 90% of the way to being a great one.

Boulevard Deschutes Collaboration
Then we popped open the gifts that Larry brought from Oregon, bottles of Hop Henge IPA and Abyss. We all reacted in horror as Larry opened the first bottle with a standard opener instead of the official opener of Gents, the Josh and Kim opener. Four or five of us quickly dug our openers out of our pockets for Larry to use for any further bottle openings.

I started off with a Hop Henge, because, quite frankly, there was a bit of a scrum going on over The Abyss. Hop Henge was quite tasty and if it was the only beer I got to try last night I would be happy. But since it wasn't, it got a little lost in the shuffle. Then I tried some Abyss which has the most delicious aroma imaginable.

For those with kids this may make sense. You know when you go to Baskin Robbins or Braum's or someplace like that they have some weird ice cream concoction that's blue or pink and has sprinkles and cookie dough and cake and brownies and is flavored like cotton candy? Your kid will always get that flavor, though nothing in it is naturally occurring in nature, because it just has everything that a kid loves. The Abyss is the adult version of Super Candy Cookie Dough Sprinkle Ice Cream. It's filled with licorice, chocolate, bourbon, coffee, oak, toffee and molasses. And apparently it is 40% ABV (actually only 11) because Steven asked me what I thought of it and I said "it's better than anything you could do" which made Flenker laugh like a little schoolgirl.

As if he were responding to my challenge, Steven went downstairs to get some Two Jokers from one of the tanks. This Two Jokers was different than Two Jokers in years' past, this one was just the right amount of sour. It wasn't better than The Abyss, few things are, but it was much better than the Two Jokers I remember (which I really enjoy).

From there, I got some socializing in with the other Gents and kept alternating between The Abyss and White IPA depending on where I was standing at the time. I talked with Steven about the comments thread on the Imperial Stout refund post to which he responded that they released it because it was good, they liked the brett addition to it. Then we got kicked out because the party upstairs was getting underway. Some of the Gents looted the Gents sign out front and headed to the Saucer. But, I took the opportunity to head home with my driver for the evening, Dan, so I could tuck my kids in.

When a beer as good as Deschutes Hop Henge gets lost in all the other beers you had in an evening, you had a good evening. That's exactly what the Gents had last night. Right now, as I write this, Steven and Larry are brewing Boulevard's version of Collaboration #2. Boulevard's will take longer because of the bottle conditioning Boulevard does. Deschutes' version will not be bottle conditioned. Both should be available in KC as Deschutes should be available in June and Collaboration #2 won't be available until mid-July.

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