Glossy black six-packs trundled down the bottling line last Friday, signaling a new direction for the Boulevard Brewing Co. Entwined Ale, a malt beverage brewed with Muscat grape juice, will be the first release under Boulevard’s Backroads Beers.
“I always had this idea – it’s the Holy Grail of beer — the combination of wine and beer,” Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels says. “Wine has some acidity and you get some of the fruity aromas that you can’t get in beer. So, we thought, how do you get that refreshing acidity aspect in beer?”
Entwined is Pauwels’ first shot at answering that question. The beer, slated to hit shelves later this month, is made with Nelson Sauvin hops, in addition to grape juice, and is only 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (6 on the EBC scale and 10 IBUs).
“There are apple-y notes. It’s dry and a little tart. Nothing too in your face, just a refreshing summer touch,” Pauwels says.
“When you smell the Nelson hop, it smells like Sauvignon Blanc,” Pauwels says. “That’s where we started.”
The tasting room has become a launching pad for Boulevard. 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat was a ‘Test Hoppy Wheat,’ before it was added to the year-round line-up. And the brewery began including the Tasting Room Beers in its ‘Sample Twelve,’ alongside two-year-round offerings last August. The first release had Westside Rye Ale and Mid-Coast IPA. Later this month, the 12-packs will feature ESB (Extra Special Bitter) and Ginger-Lemon Radler. For those who like to guess what could be next, an Oatmeal Stout is currently on tap at Boulevard’s tasting room.
“We don’t have a pub, so we wanted to bring the brewery to the consumer – that’s the whole idea behind the tasting room beers,” says Jeremy Ragonese, Boulevard’s Director of Marketing.
The Backroads Beers will be lower in alcohol than the Smokestack Series – the six-year-old series that features bigger brews, seasonal beers and collaborations.
“This is an evolving path,” Ragonese says. “These beers may not be traditional styles. They might be more of a hybrid or use different ingredients or spices.”
Boulevard wants to release three beers under the Backroads label this year. The next will likely be a hibiscus gose – a brew that popped up last year in the tasting room.
“We’re trying to make beers that are very sessionable. We’re trying to make beers that are elegant and subtle,” Pauwels says. “And we’ll keep working at it.”[Images by Chris Mullins]