We all love summer for some reason or another; school’s out, music festivals, patio drinking (my personal favorite)—but we all hate summer for one good reason: it’s WAY too hot. While we may be heading into August and the subsequent end of summer, we all know that the temperatures in Kansas City likely aren’t to drop until at least mid-October. And since the temperatures are going to rise well before they drop, it’s only right to cool off with an ice cold beer and of all the beer I drink, Boulevard Brewing Company is an easy a go-to choice: they’re local and they make some damn delicious beer. In fact, Boulevard has come up with so many beer concoctions since its 1989 inception, including the recent introduction of Fling cocktails, it’s hard to say which brews are my favorite, but I have curated a little list of beers that I have enjoyed drinking this year, along with a bonus or two, that are sure to leave you feeling refreshed through the remainder of summer.
1. Bou Lou (5.5% ABV)
We all remember the first time we heard Tech N9ne’s single “Caribou Lou” and I’m sure some of you made your own Caribou Lou when you got the chance and when you were, ahem, hopefully 21 (Just so everyone knows what a Caribou Lou is: 151 Rum, Malibu and Pineapple juice. That was in 2006, and since then, Bacardi has stopped making 151 and 14 years later, Tech N9ne collaborated with Boulevard Brewing to create his own special beer to be released at Boulevardia in 2018: Bou Lou. If you haven’t had the Bou Lou, a word of caution: if you aren’t a fruity beer person, this brew is NOT for you. The Bou Lou boasts a very pineapple forward flavor profile, to the point that it’s almost like drinking juice. That might not sound like the worst thing for anyone who isn’t super into beer, and I like Bou Lou but, I would say that an entire 16 oz can (the only size it comes in) is way too much for me. The beer doesn’t taste bad but the fruitiness can get to be too much to drink before it starts getting warm. I’d still consider it a summer beer because it’s a pineapple-coconut flavored beer. If you want to enjoy a Bou Lou and are feeling ambitious, I would suggest trying the Bou Lou in a sort of beer cocktail; combine it with a little spiced rum and you just might get that kick that the 151 provided in the original drink.
2. Jam Band (5.9% ABV)
Ah, Jam Band. The star summer release a year or so ago and, I’ve had it a few times and still go back and forth about how I feel about it. The concept is great: a berry forward ale where you can actually taste the sweetness of the berries. And perhaps, it’s more a matter of whether or not I’m in the mood for that type of experience, but I couldn’t really put my feelings into words until I made my boyfriend try it and he uttered the most genius words—fake wine. Okay, so it seems like a cop out but bare with me. You’re at a patio/pool party with your friend and you failed to mention that her drink of choice—wine, Moscato wine. It doesn’t matter if it’s red of white, it’s just gotta be sweet—is not going to be at her disposal. But Jam Band is! I’m not knocking you Moscato lovers out there. Sometimes it’s nice to down something sweet and refreshing with a little buzz bonus, but Jam Band is a perfect gateway for those who aren’t into beer; it’s sweet like a Moscato, has the depth of a good Pinot Noir but still has that beer finish to remind you that you’re drinking alcohol and you shouldn’t get too carried away.
3. Easy Sport (4.1% ABV)
The name does indeed say it all. It’s an easy drink, light, refreshing and only 99 calories! I can’t say one way or another whether or not this beer was released to compete with our rival in St. Louis’ Bud Light, but I can say that this tastes way better! The tangerine provides brightness and the sea salt cuts through at the finish for a clean taste. This is one beer on the list that is sinfully easy to drink, kind of like drinking fruit infused water. Just remember, it is still beer. Despite what the name might suggest, this isn’t going to replenish any electrolytes post-sweat.
4. Space Camper (5.9% ABV)
Are you a bitter babe that appreciates the bitter hoppy-ness of an IPA? Welp, you’re not going to get that from the Space Camper Cosmic IPA. The Cosmic IPA is marketed as a less bitter IPA and it does deliver. You get that IPA taste but it does’t linger like its counterparts, it’s a clean finish with no aftertaste, which is actually kind of magical. While I am an IPA girl and at times rely on that hoppy finish to remind me that I’m alive, I can’t really be that mad at the Space Camper. It’s palatable for those who aren’t really into IPAs, flavorful, a touch fruity and very easy to suck down since you don’t have that distinctive IPA finish to slow you down.
5. Smooth Fuzz (7.2% ABV)
The Smooth Fuzz is, admittedly, not going to be for everyone. I realize that I’m a weirdo and love sours, but there’s just something about a tart swig of ale on a hot summer’s day. This might be one of the tarter sour ales I’ve had from boulevard outside of the Love Child series, but I think that might have a little to do with the fact that the Smooth Fuzz is “rested on whole apricots prior to bottling”. I haven’t had apricots in a while, they are crazy expensive for how little they are, but I do remember them being a very tart fruit, even the flesh has a zippiness to it. As a result you have a sour ale that just won’t quit, however with some time to sit out a little, there is a subtle sweetness amid all that bite. Does it tone down the acidity? No, not really, but I appreciate a good sour since they tend to be light, effervescent and the tartness tends to keep you from throwing back glass after glass. It’s hot outside. You want to chill, not get a dehydration headache and with a 7.2% ABV, it’s quite likely with this brew.
Bonus: Test-Black Raspberry Foeder Saison Ale (6.3% ABV)
I picked this little number up at the Boulevard Beerhall and decided to give it a shot, because, it’s a test brew and when is the next time I’m going to be at the brewery (Southwest Boulevard isn’t a neighborhood I frequent as much as I’d like)? I also have a sneaking suspicion this might be the first iteration of the Lickable Wallpaper Saison which is set to release in the next few weeks according to Boulevard’s instagram feed. So, straight out of the gate I noticed the deep red-purple color, almost like a wine. So, knowing that appearance reflects taste, I had an expectation of a complex wine-like taste. Wrong. Incorrect. Do not pass go. This Ale is very sour and for the first few sips, all I could taste was sour bubbles. However, that sour effervescence transforms into a tart mouthful of raspberries, reminiscent of your favorite childhood memories picking berries at the local orchard. While this Saison wasn’t super complex to me, it’s a very sipable ale whose berry notes flourish the longer it’s aerated and has time to warm up slightly. And the sipability factor is all we’re worried about for the time being. I did, however, wonder if the complexity could be kicked up with the addition of mulling spices, but perhaps I’m rooting too hard for fall.
I recognize how incomplete this list is. There are so many other boulevard brews, that are great for summer that I wasn’t able to cover, but I wanted to cover some of the newer brews that have come out in the last year or so. Now it’s your turn: what are some of your favorite beers, wines or cocktails to drink in the summer? What’s your favorite Boulevard beer? Tell me everything. 🙂