That’s how far in advance we had to book our tour.
No, it wasn’t a cruise to the Greek Isles or a guided wine tasting through Napa Valley.
It was a tour of the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City.
Not long after I started drinking beer, my dad introduced me to one of his favorite brews:
Having been used to drinking cheap keg beer during college apartment parties – and Miller Lite during our more ambitious moments – I wasn’t used to drinking beer with so much…flavor.
I would have to wait until later in life though, to make Boulevard Wheat my beer of choice because I couldn’t drink Boulevard in college. It wasn’t available in Illinois, or Cincinnati (where I first worked out of college), or the many cities I visited while traveling the country for work.
I had to wait until I made Kansas City home again.
Boulevard Brewery is one of Kansas City’s own. Started in 1989 by a beer drinker frustrated that he couldn’t find real beers like the ones he’d tasted in Europe, he started making his own. The company grew slowly – gaining notoriety for good beer and experimental flavors – before spreading slowly to border states. Flash forward to 2012:
Boulevard has even done what only national beer makers Budweiser and Miller were able to do previously:
Advertise prominently at Kauffman Stadium for Royals baseball games.
Boulevard even went further than just making great beer. They are looking out for the way they make great beer, by doing what they can do be as carbon neutral as possible – going so far as to create a glass recycling program in Kansas City called Ripple Glass.
As my beer-drinking palate has evolved to include hefeweizens at Oktoberfest in Munich:
To Guinness fresh from the tap in Dublin:
The hometown Boulevard beer still wins my favor.
Boulevard Wheat still makes up a large portion of the Brewery’s sales, but the ever-evolving options that continue to become available are fun to try. There’s Bully Porter, Boss Tom’s, Dry Stout, Pale Ale, Single-Wide I.P.A. and many more – including the newest standard, the Pilsner.
There’s even a flavor that upon first introduction last year sold at a charity auction for over $600.
For a 750ml bottle.
I can’t give you a word-sleuthed taste of this Chocolate Ale though, because I’ve never tried it. People camp out for the stuff. Boulevard only releases so much of it each year around Valentine’s Day, and this city is in a frenzy during the days leading up to its release – with beer lovers calling liquor stores to put names on waiting lists.
With all this innovation, intrigue and excitement, you might understand now why tours of the brewery fill up so fast.
Yet, on that much-anticipated day – after the smell of hops has wafted in and out of the sensory palate for a while and you’ve seen the different stages of beer production – the best part of the day arrives:
Drinking in the brewers’ creativity and hard work with friends is a great reminder that there is not much finer than enjoying a great beer with friends courtesy of a hometown brewery.