The Boulevard Brewing Co. is a relatively recent addition to the lineup of craft brewers available in the southern Illinois market. I had sampled several of their beers before they were distributed locally, but there were several I never managed to get my hands on … until now, that is. Boulevard is proving their mettle with some very solid, well-crafted beers as of late. The Bully! Porter and Zon are very good examples of their respective styles (Porter and Belgian Wit, respectively) and now I am happy to add another exemplar of a timely style to my list of quality Boulevard beers sampled … this one is a seasonal beer in the winter warmer style Boulevard calls “Nutcracker Ale.”
Here is my review of this festive beer, from notes. If you like what you read, go out and get this beer before it, and the season, are gone for another year!
“Pours a deep reddish-brown color with a massive tan head with terrific retention. Sheets of lacing line the wide mouth glass – a beautiful beer. The nose is slightly candy sweet with hints of floral and herbal hops at the fore. The spicy notes really bring the Holidays to mind. This probably how a winter warmer is supposed to smell. The palate is wonderfully complex – a barrage of hops upfront, but quickly balanced out by a nice subtle sweet malt character that lends a great warm caramel and nut aspect to the beer. This beer is masterfully balanced – not a hop bomb or sweet to the point of cloying. The flavors play off of each other in a very nice way, leaving a complex yet accessible flavor profile. The mouth feel is very smooth, especially as the beer warms to near ambient temperature (probably the best serving temperature for this beer). A full-flavored and bodied beer, but not overly thick. I’d say this one is medium in mouth feel and really quite luxurious. The finish is dry with lingering herbal hops on the tongue. Probably one of the more ‘drinkable’ winter warmers I’ve sampled this season, and without a doubt one of the best as well. Very complex, yet not overbearing, flavors and an extremely well-crafted mouth feel – I have no reservations in recommending this beer to both the lover of the style and the drinker who is imbibing in a winter warmer for the very first time – substantial yet accessible. Very, very nice. Congratulations Boulevard – this may be your best so far, in my book.”
As the review said, this beer is arguably Boulevard’s best (save for their new Smokestack Series, I’d wager) so far. If you like your winter warmer just slightly on the hoppy side (like I do), you won’t be disappointed in this one at all. I’m proud to say that my neighboring state of Missouri has managed to produce two of the best winter warmers of the year, in my opinion. Like Schlafly’s Christmas Ale, the Nutcracker Ale from Boulevard is the real deal and a great way to while away a cold winter’s eve.