Boulevard Funky Pumpkin
Boulevard Brewing Company
Kansas City, Missouri
Style: Pumpkin Sour Ale
3.4 / 5.0
Look: 3.0 | Smell: 3.0 | Taste: 4.0 | Feel: 4.0 | Overall: 3.5
Brewery at a glance: Before the huge explosion of interest in the craft beer market (back when most were still called microbrews), I remember having limited options in what I could find on the shelves at my local liquor store. Goose Island, Shocktop, Michelob, and, of course, Boulevard were about the only beers that weren’t a part of the big three breweries that were stocked on the shelves.
Maybe my memory of the limited options way back in yesteryear is a little fuzzy and obscured by the sheer amount of brews I’ve drank since then but, aside from this, I learned very early on that Boulevard has always made quality products. They are the makers of excellent brews such as Tank 7, Sixth Glass, and Dark Truth, and make quality staple styles that consistently coming back. While I still haven’t visited the brewery, I did visit one of their brewpubs located in the lobby of a hotel outside of the Kansas City International Aiport after a cancelled flight coming home from Dallas, Texas and became a huge fan of every offering they had. Recently, Aly and I took a trip to Kansas City and had every intention to visit the brewery. However, due to time and distance (it was several miles from my hotel and I’d have to walk it), we decided to plan another trip in the distant future. While in KC and after several days of stopping into bars and breweries, I got the sense that the city has overwhelming pride for their largest local brewery.
Established in 1989, Boulevard was recently sold to the Belgian brewing firm, Duvel Moorgat, known famously for their namesake. Rather than being put off by the sale, most KC brewers informed me that they were still proud of their hometown brewery and think that they consistently put out products that are unique, interesting, and even groundbreaking. This brew (donated kindly from a great friend to try) was something I didn’t expect from Boulevard and has me excited to dive deeper into their catalog of experimentation such as their Smokestack Series. After this beer and the trip to KC, I can’t help but feel the sense of Boulevard pride. Watch this space for more Boulevard reviews.
Look: Funky Pumpkin pours a bright opaque copper color with minimal white head that dissipates quickly. It has very little carbonation and somehow, its unique color, makes it look sour. Most other pumpkin beers pour a murky, earthy orange or deep brown. This one pours a lighter color and is more representative of the traditional pumpkin color. For the record, the glass I used for this beer is from Bloomington Brewing Co (also an excellent brewery, by the way).
Smell: I was instantly hit with the sweet, tart, all spice, clove, and nutmeg smell as I was pouring it into the glass. Sours have a tendency to be very strong on the nose and all subtle smells mask the other more subtle ingredients of the brew. This one is no different. While most pumpkin brews could probably be identified by their smell in a blind smell test, this one would probably throw even the most seasoned schnoz.
Taste: The taste wasn’t nearly as sour as I was expecting it to be. Rather, all spice, nutmeg, and sharp ginger notes come out before finishing on the expected sharp, tart edge of sour funk. The bottle suggests that this one was barrel-aged and, a few sips after the initial taste, I started to get the notes of oak at the finish but, even for seasoned sour fans, this subtle final kick could be lost among the tart finish. This one is way less sour than most other sours I’ve had but still just as tart and makes me think of quality hard cider once the initial taste diminishes. In my original notes, I had the line “truly tastes funky” and, having a second one now, I can’t help but think that this is still correct.
Feel: Funky pumpkin has a dry, thin body that is reminiscent of sparkling champagne or a lightly carbonated cider which is a nice complement to the sour style. The intensity of the funk is complemented by the prolonged flavor kicking around your pallet long after the brew is gone.
Overall: Funky Pumpkin is a very approachable introduction to the world of sours but hardly one to win over the most serious of pumpkin beer fans. These are two divisive styles in one representation and the results are good. For fans of ESBs, sours, or pumpkin brews, don’t miss this one. I haven’t really had anything else quite like it.
Have you had this brew? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.