1/26/18: A Return to Boulevard Brewing Company's 2015 Dark Truth Stout

4:34 PM

This is a post I've wanted to make for literal years. It stems from an idea that began germinating back in 2015. And, because it's such a throwback, I feel compelled to preface it with a little history.

Depending on how long you've been hanging around the blog, you may or may not have seen this post when it popped up. Similarly, you might have seen it if you've felt inclined to dig around. Regardless, I'm aware of that fact that some people reading today's post might not have my original review of Boulevard's Dark Truth. For the sake of what I'm talking about today you'll probably want to give it a read, so be sure to click the link above.

In May of 2015 I was still cutting my teeth on both beer and blogging. I'd regularly consumed beer, but I was just starting to distinguish the subtle differences between some of its styles. And, on the blog-front, well, the blog was just a few months old. Which was great because that meant that each post was an adventure--something original instead of the mere following of an established formula.

Back then, I wasn't the stout fan that I currently am. Truthfully, I was basically just into porters, ambers, and ciders back then (but my palate was rapidly and rabidly expanding!). So when I came upon two bottles of Dark Truth on a shelf, I nabbed them. I wanted to give my honest opinion of one immediately and I wanted to cellar one for a later review.

You see, I'd recently come across Patrick Dawson's book Vintage Beer and was wholly intrigued by the concept of aging beer. Coming from a background where all beer was consumed shortly after being acquired, I really wanted to see how aging affected a beer's quality.

Since drinking that first bottle and tucking the second away for tasting at a later date, I'm happy to say that I've had a few aged beers! I had a ten-year-old Bell's back in March that was overly aged and, more recently, I dipped into some Saugatuck Brewing that I've been, unintentionally, aging for six months to find that it's achieved something akin to perfection (you need to be keeping up with my Untappd to see all these spur-of-the-moment indulgences).

When I put this bottle of Dark Truth away I had only intended to let it sit for a year. I thought that, surely, we would leave this apartment at the end of the lease and I'd want to drink it before moving out. Well, we've been here the entire time and, like I said in my last post, Michelle and I are on the hunt for a house. Now seems like the perfect time to break into that second bottle, 2.75 years later.

But, before getting into the newly opened bottle at my side, let's talk about Boulevard. They are not an independent craft brewery. You won't see the fancy upside-down bottle logo on their brews (I'm not hating on that logo or what it represents, by the way. I love a ton of beers labeled with it, and I like knowing that my beer money isn't going to AB InBev or some other notorious macrobrewery). No, in 2014 Boulevard was bought out by Duvel Moortgat. This isn't private or hidden information: Boulevard features it prominently on their "Our Story" webpage. In a way, being part of the Duvel brand lets John McDonald, founder of Boulevard, come closer to his dream that began in 1984: the expansion of the beer world through offering a variety of styles.

Dark Truth was, in 2015 when this bottle was purchased, part of Boulevard's Smokestack Series. Now, in 2018, it's still part of the same series, albeit with a new label. While its current description is much longer than the one sported by my bottle, much of its 2015 characterizations remain intact: 9.7% ABV, notes of plum, subtle spice, and a smokily dry finish (I'll note here, simply because I don't know if I'll find a better place to do so, that my bottle explicitly says "BEST BY 11/25/16." Oops).

Three years ago I mainly picked out some spice and fruit in the aroma and I got plum, smoke, chocolate, coffee, and molasses sweetness from its flavor.

How does this aged bottle compare, you ask? Well, for starters, the aroma is much sweeter--somewhat like a barleywine. It has a thick caramely bouquet. I'm also picking up on dark fruits such as plum and fig. There's a hint of banana, but absolutely no spice or smoke to be found. Purrl, who gave it four whiffs years ago, downgraded her rating to a paltry one. Ouch. Sorry, girl.

The flavor hits with a punch of dark fruit upon my initial swig. The thickness of the sweetness here is still relatable to a barleywine. There's a bite of coffee roastiness in the finish, but all other traces of that coffee/chocolateness are gone. Well, okay, maybe if work at singling it out, I do find the tiniest notion of dark chocolate, but anything there relating to it is so nearly indistinguishable that I almost feel bad for mentioning it. Almost.

This is still one hell of a full stout. It's got a fair amount of carbonation left in it, considering it sat around for a few years. But it has an extra layer to it--one of thickness. Creaminess. It's far from syrupy. Were I to compare its viscosity to another beverage, I'd have to go with eggnog. It's mouthfeel is eggnogy. I'll bet that's the first time you've ever read that statement in relation to anything.

Last summer, Michelle and I spent nearly every weekend at her parents' place. They live on an old farm and we're having our wedding there. As such, we decided that we'll have our ceremony in a clearing in her folks' woods and our reception in one of their barns (we ran all of this by them first; don't worry). So, we spent a lot of time working to renovate the barn.

I'm sure I've said it before--forgive me for not tracking down the exact post--but I'm the kind of guy who enjoys heavy beers yearound. I know most people only reach for them in the fall and winter, which is fine. But, man, there's nothing like a stout after a hard day when you're unwinding around a bonfire.

One weekend last summer, I brought up a few stouts to split with Michelle's dad. There wasn't a bonfire involved in this specific instance, but who cares? We did a lot of hard labor earlier in the day and we needed those stouts as a reward. They were big and bold and from local breweries. We enjoyed them as the sun set behind the trees and across the river. They were the perfect things for the time. And that sunset, outside on a hot summer evening, is exactly what I'm thinking about as I'm drinking this aged Dark Truth.

Nearly three years ago I gave a bottle of Boulevard's Dark Truth Stout an 8.0/10. Now I'm giving that bottle's identical twin an enormous 10/10. I can't say that rating's solely due to the due to the time spent aging the beer (although that most assuredly helped), because my tastes have developed and expanded so much in the last few years. I'm just inclined to enjoy this kind of beer now. Either way, you can't go wrong with Dark Truth. And, if you're looking for a beer to age, this is one that I can heartily recommend.

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