Until recently, I had never had a beer brewed by Boulevard Brewing Company. In fact, I had not seen a bottle on a shelf or noticed a tap handle at a bar. Most likely this is because Boulevard does not distribute to my area. After my short time in North Carolina, I now realize this is quite the tragedy.
While in North Carolina, I had the opportunity to choose from a variety of beers that typically are not available to me, and outside of the more local options, I was most excited about trying a few things from Boulevard. On my first trip to the beer store, I picked up a four pack of Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and a bomber of their Saison-Brett. The Tank 7 was very good and the Saison-Brett was even better. I said out loud that it smelled faintly like a cross between a gym locker and an armpit that was sweaty from pushing a lawnmower but had since dried. And I meant it in the best way possible.
On the second trip to the beer store, I picked up a bottle of Love Child No. 4 - Boulevard's fourth installment in a series of wild ales using Brettanomyces and Lactobaccillus and aged in whiskey barrels and wine foeders.
The beer poured an brownish orange, with maybe just a hint of pink to it and just a rim of off white head. At first the smell was sour cherry and oak, but as it warmed hints of cocoa, bourbon, and funk started to become more prevalent.
Upon taking my first sip, I said aloud, “Oh, wow.” I looked at the beer in the glass with just a bit of amazement. It was impressively tart with sour notes that faded quickly. Overall the flavor followed the nose – it was crisply tart and had a moment where the sour just passed over your tongue, paused for a minute and then was gone. There was some cherry sweetness, perhaps even a hint of salty leather. The funk, the malt, and the whiskey became more noticeable as it warmed, adding some earth and wood to the hints of sour cherry and leather. The funky flavors in the finish somehow ended with just a hint, or a sense, of grape.
Did you say grape?
I waited a moment, and then, from upstairs, the voice of an angel.
“Yes Father, I made a grape,” my Daughter said, shouting from the bathroom, “And a poop.”
For some unknown reason, and basically out of nowhere, she has started to call me 'Father'. She doesn't do it all the time – and we haven't quite figured why she makes the switch or where the idea came from – but at different points throughout the day, she takes a break from being herself and becomes a character from a Charles Dickens novel, to the extent that she insists I respond by calling her 'Daughter'. However, at the same time that she started to develop this part-time Dickensian self, she also started to use the bathroom like a big girl. So at this point, as parents, we are more than happy to take these new found talents hand in hand and hope that one is here to stay while the other slowly fades.
I was already bounding up the stairs two at a time when she said, “Can you help me, Father?”
As I made my way into the bathroom, she was standing in front of the toilet, looking in. Naturally, I took a look as well. And there it was, floating in the water: one red grape. A solid, un-chewed, red grape.
Confused, I said, “Daughter?”
“How did that grape get in there?”
Had she been downstairs, things would have have seemed more plausible because downstairs there are grapes. Upstairs there are no grapes. In fact, there isn't any food of any kind. Did she smuggle the grape upstairs and then throw it in the toilet? It seemed like a reasonable thing for a kid to do except for the fact that she hadn't been given any grapes for several hours. Had she been holding onto this grape since then? Given the attention span of a three year old, especially one that transitions between reality and a Dickensian sub-reality, the possibility that she had been hanging on to this grape for hours seemed unlikely.
“I made the grape, Father.”
“But how did you make a grape?”
“I made it with my butt.”
After a long pause, I said aloud, “Of course you did.” And I said it completely absentmindedly, almost a whisper, and really to no one in particular. And I just stared at it. I bent just a bit at the waist, for a better view. Finally, I squinted a little bit. It was definitely a grape. A perfectly, whole grape. Technically, I guess, in a way, she did smuggle the grape upstairs – in her digestive tract. A digestive tract that chose to ignore this singular grape. One by one, each organ in her digestive system saw this grape coming and bellowed, “You shall pass.”
I made a barely audible grunt as a strange combination of words came together in my mind – my Daughter, the grape mule. And as I pictured a grape-colored donkey, she said, “Don't worry Father, I won't eat it.”
You may be wondering why I was picturing a grape-colored donkey instead of a mule. Well, if you must know, beyond “horse-ish” or “kinda horsey”, I am not 100% sure what a mule looks like. There, I said it. And I feel a lot better.
Love Child No. 4, Boulevard Brewing Co. (4.17 BAR, 107 Style+)
Appearance = 4.5/5
The beer poured an brownish orange, with maybe just a hint of pink to it and just a rim of off white head.
Smell = 4/5
At first the smell was sour cherry and oak, but as it warmed there were hints of cocoa, bourbon, and funk.
Taste = 5/5
After my first sip, I said aloud, “Oh, wow.” Impressively tart with sour notes that faded quickly. The flavor followed the nose – crisply tart with a moment where the sour just passed over your tongue, paused for a minute and then was gone. Some cherry sweetness, perhaps even a hint of salty leather. The funk, the malt, and the whiskey became more noticeable as it warmed, adding some earth and wood to the hints of sour cherry and leather. The funky flavors in the finish ended with a hint of grape.
Feel = 4.75/5
Medium body, sour prickliness to go along with a light, fine carbonation. Slick with a dry finish, and moments of sour and a hint of heat.
Overall = 4.75/5
Really enjoyed it. Wish I would have bought more than one when I had the chance.
J. R. Shirt has since searched the Internet for images of mules and is certain that only images of horses and donkeys came up. For more amazing insights, follow him on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt.