Most people might not know that Belgian brewery Duvel Moortgat is actually the 5th largest craft brewery in the United States, owning three larger breweries that you’ve probably heard of: Firestone Walker, Boulevard, and Brewery Ommegang.
Today, I showcase a few newer brews from two of those three breweries - Boulevard and Firestone Walker.
Up first, Boulevard and their new year-round beer.
It’s hard to believe but Boulevard Brewing has been brewing beer for nearly 30 years!
Beginning back in 1989, the Kansas City, Missouri brewery has been part of Duvel Moortgat since 2014 and can be found pretty much everywhere in the US (at least 41 states carry their beers).
One of their newer releases is Space Camper, a “cosmic IPA” brewed with Ekuanot, El Dorado, and Galaxy hops. It’s sold in six-packs for the very reasonable price of $8.99 with every can having a decent 5.9% ABV and 50 IBU.
Space Camper poured a lighter straw color with loads of sediment floating in it and about a finger and a half of off-white head. The foam quickly fizzled down into a small accumulation around the edge of the glass with almost no lacing what-so-ever.
A sweet, tropical blend wafted from the beer. It was huge on tropical fruits like mango, papaya, pineapple, and melon. But it also had the usual suspects like lemon and grapefruit as well as a bready malt backing.
The sip begins with a light hum of carbonation that quickly vanishes underneath all the flavors. And it’s the hops that really kick this beer off, with a twinge of bitterness and a huge dose of tropical fruits.
Space Camper prominently features those juicy fruit flavors all with a somewhat creamier mouthfeel to it. Leading the charge was a mixture of mango, grapefruit, peach, and papaya. The melon faded some in the taste and was more much more noticeable in the smell.
As it progresses, the flavors end really quickly – within three to five seconds, the vast majority of flavors have faded. However, the brew has a sticky resinous feeling that begins to creep in about midway through, just at the flavors start to disappear.
With the resin comes a familiar citrus rind bitterness that decides to settle down and make itself cozy, covering my tongue. Accompanying those is a solid dryness that is amplified with consecutive gulps and could require a sip of water every so often.
But, for as dry and sticky as Space Camper ends, it’s actually a very easy to drink beer. Before I knew it, I had an empty glass next to me and was wishing it was solid in 16-ounce cans instead of the smaller 12-ounce ones.
I wouldn’t go so far as to make a terrible pun and say this beer is “out of this world” but, damn, did it go down really easy and had great flavors to it. The sticky/dry finish isn’t too desirable but, outside of that, Boulevard has a winner here.
Amazingly, Firestone Walker had never been showcased on BBG…until today.
The Paso Robles, California brewery was founded by brothers-in-law way back in 1996 but joined the Duvel family of breweries back in 2015.
Today most of the US can find their beers (sorry southern states and the Rust Belt, they’re not there yet) and they offer nine year-round brews and a slew of seasonal/specialty releases.
I have one of their newest year-round brews, Mind Haze, which is their take on a hazy IPA.
It’s brewed with Azacca, Cashmere, El Dorado, Idaho 7, Mandarina, and Mosaic hops and five types of grains, including wheat and oats. Sold in six-packs for the standard price of $10, each of the cans has a decent 6.2% ABV and just 40 IBU.
Mind Haze poured a super hazy, bright golden straw color with three fingers of fluffy off-white head topping it off. The dense and sticky foam slowly faded away, leaving some nice lacing as it did so.
This brew certainly had a big juicy aroma. Tropical fruits dominated it with guava, passion fruit, mango, oranges, and even some grapefruit making an appearance. A sweet malty backing featured some oats and other grains that really brought a balance to the smell.
My first taste started off with a moderate buzz of carbonation that lingers underneath the flavors and goes for damn near the entirety of the sip. But, raising above the fizz, are those juicy tropical flavors.
It stays true to the aroma and starts off with a charge of passion fruit and guava. From there the others join in – orange, tangerine, and a light melon bloom across my taste buds in a sweet cacophony of tropical fruit. It’s more like drinking a tropical fruit punch than beer initially.
However, towards the backend of the sip the grapefruit appears with a slight citrus rind and hop bite…but that’s really the only bitterness Mind Haze has. It’s one of the smoothest brews I’ve had in a while and even the grapefruit peel bitterness is easy going and quickly forgotten.
The malts added some light crackery sweetness but otherwise stay out of the hops’ way…which is good because the hops are the star of the show here and give off a bunch of great flavors.
As it begins to fade out, there is a slight tartness on some sips. Not on all of them, but occasionally, as the beer starts to disappear, I’ll get a sour tingle on the sides of my tongue.
It then finished quite cleanly. No lingering flavors. No bitter twinge. Just a small dry feeling that was easy to take care of.
I must admit I drank this can a hell of a lot faster than I thought I would. It was so damn tasty and went down incredibly easy. The 6.2% ABV was hidden entirely and, again, this IPA was more like a juice cocktail than a beer.
Firestone waited to make a hazy IPA…but this one was well worth that wait. Great stuff.