4/29/15: Boulevard Brewing Company's Dark Truth Stout

5:50 PM

I've been interested in aging beer for a few months now. Back in early January NPR ran an article on the art of aging brews. About a month and a half later I managed to snag the book that inspired the article, Patrick's Dawson's Vintage Beer, from Cincinnati's public library system. Give it a read if your interested; it's both informative and entertaining.

The process of aging beer is a relatively simple one: grab a high-alcohol brew (above 8% ABV and not an IPA) and stick it in a cool, dark place for at least a year. Once that year (or longer) is up, crack that badboy open and give it a taste. After aging the true flavor of the brew'll be brought out. It's basically the same routine you'd undertake to age wine.

Now that I'm settled into an apartment where I'll reside for at least a year, I figured it's a fine time to put my money where my mouth is and give it a shot. While piecing together my latest four pack I threw in two of Boulevard Brewing Company's Dark Truth Stout. The brew boasts an impressive 9.7% ABV that is all too perfect for aging. One of the bottles I immediately stuck in storage to be opened (and discussed here) at a later date.

The other, I thought, should be opened and written about now so as to better compare the two upon consumption of its aged twin.

The bottle's front label tells me two things about the stout that I haven't mentioned previously: it's part of Boulevard's Smokestack Series (as noted on its cap) and that Boulevard Brewing hails from Kansas City, Missouri.

Looking at the story of the brewery's on its website I see that Boulevard brewed its first batch of beer in 1989 and underwent a major expansion in 2006. The expansion gave it room "...to become the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest."

The brewery offers 28 beers. Some of these can be bought year-round, some are seasonals, and some, like the stout I'm currently drinking, belong to the special Smokestack Series.

This image was pulled directly from Boulevard Brewing's website.
The label found on the back of my Dark Truth Stout bottle says it was brewed with roasted English malts, Belgian yeast (to give the stout a plum-like flavor), and German hops (which grant it a spicy aroma). It also says that the beer has a dry, smokey finish.

The page for Dark Truth on Boulevard's website adds that brew has, on top of the spiciness listed on the bottle, "...a rich chocolaty and moderately fruity aroma." I can pick up on the spice (it almost smells like a Christmas ale. Almost.) and the fruit. The chocolate goes over my head. I don't know what Purrl smelled when she sniffed my open bottle--she's a cat and is incapable of telling me what her advanced nose sussed out--but she gave it four whiffs. I guess she didn't like it very much.

I can really taste the flavor of the roasted malts in the beer; it's that coffee/chocolate flavor that is present in all brews that use roasted malts. I also get a sweet molassessiness from the stout. Do I taste plum? Yeah, there's a little in the aftertaste. I assume when I try again in a year or so it'll be more pronounced. That smokey finish is definitely immediately present, though.

The beer has a nice full feeling to it. It's not overly carbonated but the foam from a small swig envelops the inside of my mouth. Not completely; just enough to leave me content.

I worked at a summer camp the summer before my senior year of high school. I'd be there from Sunday until Friday. I'd help clean the camp after that week's campers left before embarking on the long drive back home each and every Friday night. I'd usually leave my place of employment around 10 or 10:30 which meant I'd make my parents' somewhere around midnight or 1 (depending on how much I wanted to push the speed limit on the country roads the composed my route).

The drive was lonely for a seventeen year-old by himself. I'd usually find a radio station playing old timey country, bluegrass, or some sort of Americana folk to keep me company. Looking back on those drives, they were really nice. They served as short snippets of peaceful reflective time during my hectic (but not overly wild) teenage years. For some reason Dark Truth Stout brings those drives to mind. For the life of me, I don't know why.

A twenty-one year-old me would've hated this beer. At twenty-two I might've been able to stomach it to impress my beer-drinking buddies. I used to hate dark beer. But now, at twenty-four, I appreciate it to a level that most people, including myself, would call enjoyment. Due to my evolved, dark beer-enjoying  taste, Boulevard Brewing Company's Dark Truth Stout gets a solid 8.0/10. I'm hoping that I like that other bottle as much when I eventually get around to opening it.

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