The Boulevard Brewing Company has gone a little coconut with their latest release out today. Imperial Stout X — Coconut, which will only be available in 750ml bottles, is the fourth in a series of dark, full-bodied stouts.
Boulevard provided us with a pre-release bottle of the malty brew with notes of coffee and a rounded sweetness from the coconut. For the Imperial Stout series, the brewery has also released varieties with cherry, Aztec chocolate, and coffee.
“They’ve all been really unique. It’s about trying to find a balance of each that still showcases the beer,” says Boulevard Sensory Specialist Elizabeth Belden. “The cherry had a little acidity in addition to the fruit. The Aztec chocolate, which might be personal favorite, had the subtleties of cinnamon and pepper that worked out nicely. The coffee had the traditional dark malt with coffee. And the coconut is just a completely different flavor that is just a little bit of sweet as opposed to being over the top.”
The coconut brew, which clocks in at 11 percent ABV, features both raw and toasted coconut flakes. Brewers suspended two pounds of coconut flakes in a porous bag in a fermentation tank — a process similar to how cocoa nibs are used in the brewery’s Chocolate Ale. The finished cool beer was then allowed to rest on top of coconut flakes for 48 hours in order to bring out the coconut aroma and flavor.
“Our Imperial Stout is one of my favorite cold weather sippers,” says Belden. “And the coconut highlights the sweetness components of the malt. If I had a whole lineup of coconut beers, what would I appreciate about ours is the balance.”
Originally slated for release last fall, Boulevard’s Imperial Stout X: Coconut was pushed back on the calendar because of a lengthy discussion with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) over the beer’s label.
“Coconut prior to this year wasn’t on the exempt list, so there was a lot of back and forth with the TTB,” says brewer Jeremy Danner. “So we had to have a formula for this beer to get approval on the label.”
A formula is a document that covers the recipe and process for a malt beverage or beer. If a given process or ingredient is deemed traditional practice by the TTB, then a brewery is typically exempted from having to file a formula in order to get label approval for a beer. A Certificate of Label Approval is required for a brewery to sell its beer across state lines.
The exempt list for ingredients and processes was recently updated, in part because of a petition from the Brewers Association and a survey the TTB sent to brewers. Coconut and honey were notable additions to the exempt list [the new exempt list is here, if you’re interested].
Belden believes the Imperial Stout series will yield benefits in the coming years as Boulevard continues to branch out with a multitude of new releases.
“This has allowed us to nail down a process for post fermentation ingredients,” says Belden.
Boulevard was in the news last week as it announced a new visitor’s center with a retail shop and beer hall that is slated to open across the street this summer (read The Pitch story here). The release wheel also keeps turning at Boulevard with Rye-on-Rye-on-Rye dropping next Tuesday.
“It will taste familiar to those who know Rye-on-Rye,” says Belden. “But it’s got a little bit more of a boozy, woody vanilla aroma.”