Some Bad Bottles, but Draft Rules
Last night I sat, once again, at the bluestem bar where I first tasted Boulevard Chocolate Ale and had a sip of this year’s batch. This time from a keg. It was fantastic! Even better than that first glass I thoroughly enjoyed a year ago.
With the announcement today from Boulevard that some batches of the bottled chocolate ale had “unintended aromas and flavors”, my experience last night made perfect sense.
The draft beer was remarkably better than any of the three bottles I have tasted in the last couple weeks. It made me want to order another. Whereas, when drinking from the bottles I was lucky enough to get my hands on, sometimes I didn’t even finish a small glass.
Now, draft beer typically tastes a bit different than the same variety in a bottle. And the chocolate ale was reported to have a slightly different flavor profile on tap. I was anxious to try the draft version this year to see if I noticed a big difference. Well, boy did I taste it!
After a big whiff and a little sip last night of the smooth, toasty draft beer, I immediately remarked that it had a much more forward chocolate taste and the flavors were far better balanced. Another drink and it was even more clear that the chocolate ale from a keg was far superior to what had been bottled.
Well, little did I know that the bottles I had tried were not what the brewers hoped it would be. I came home and checked a remaining bottle and it was marked “2011-3”, one of the “off” batches. There wasn’t one particular characteristic in the bottles that made it bad, per se. It just wasn’t great. There was a lingering aftertaste that I couldn’t really nail down. And the hint of cocoa was almost drowned out by the muddled flavors of a dark beer.
So hopefully, if you got your hands on a bottle it was one of the good ones. Just know that if you can still find some chocolate ale on tap, THAT’s what it should taste like! The clear, vibrant flavors in the draft beer are definitely worth the search. Both bluestem and Rieger have a little left.
As for my two remaining bottles, I won’t be asking for a refund. I think I will wait a few months, maybe longer, and check out how the flavor continues to evolve. I don’t think they’ll really improve. But I’m interested to see if there’s a significant change.
If only we could keep that pristine draft chocolate ale around all year! But then again, I suppose it wouldn’t be a special Valentine’s treat that way.