A pinch of this and a dash of that and the Boulevard Brewing Company has itself another spiced beer. Collaboration No. 4 — a spiced Saison made with Brewery Ommegang (Boulevard’s sister brewery that is also owned by Duvel Moortgaat) — will start appearing on draft Monday and shelves Tuesday in Kansas City.
“It was pretty easy to agree on what to do because we both make Belgian beers,” Pauwels says of the collaboration process. “The biggest difference is that [Brewery Ommegang’s] history has always been Belgian — they were owned by Belgian brewers and now one Belgian brewery — and we make Belgian-influenced beers and give them our own somewhat American style.”
The goal was to produce something slightly different from Boulevard’s Tank 7 and Ommegang’s Hennepin — two of the more well-known, American-produced Saisons. Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart came to Kansas City from Cooperstown, New York, to brew Collaboration No. 4 (ABV 7.3%, 28 IBUs) in July, which features a 50/50 blend of each brewery’s house yeast (two separate batches were produced and blended post-fermentation). The beer follows in the style of a traditional Belgian farmhouse ale. They used corn, pale malt, oats, rye and wheat, much as Belgian brewers once used whatever grain was available. Those grains were then spiced with coriander, grains of paradise, and dried lemon and orange peels.
Collaboration No. 4, Boulevard provided The Recommended Daily with a bottle. It is crisp with citrus in the nose and lingering spice in the finish. The beer was bottle conditioned for a little over three weeks and Pauwels suggests drinking it sooner rather than later.
“It’s good to drink now. I don’t know how it’s going to evolve over time, but I think if you age it too long it will lose its spice character,” Pauwels says.
This brew could represent a slight shift for Boulevard, which has released a series of spiced beers this fall — Hibiscus Gose and Za’Tart, a spiced sour ale collaboration with the Cambridge Brewing Company.
“For me personally, I think spices can harm the drinkability of a beer,” Pauwels says. “Our philosophy has always been if you drink one of our beers, you’ve got to drink another one.”
As a result, Boulevard has mostly stayed away from beers with a heavy spice profile. Pauwels points to Zon, a polarizing Witbier with strong notes of coriander and orange peel in Kansas City, as the only regular spiced beer that Boulevard has made. But just as a beer warms and changes, Pauwels is showing signs of warming to subtle bits of spice making their way into the brewery’s rotation.
Boulevard’s first collaboration was four years ago, an imperial pilsner made with Orval brewmaster Jean-Marie Rock. A year later, Deschutes Brewery and Boulevard got together to produce a white India Pale Ale. The last numbered collaboration was Stingo — a traditional English ale made with the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project in 2012. As with previous collaborations, there are plans for Ommegang to brew a batch on their own system. Here in Kansas City, Pauwels could see Boulevard experimenting with different Saisons in the future.
“In the future, I think we’ll make more Saisons. People are open-minded toward them and we might dig into that category because there’s definitely something there,” Pauwels says.