Boulevard Chocolate Ale may be this year’s prestige Valentine’s gift. Not because it’s expensive—at around $10 a bottle, it isn’t. Rather, it was impossible to find. I wish I could crow about my own wily strategy in procuring a single bottle, but, truth is, I just got lucky.
Now, I’m not writing all this to brag that I got a bottle and you didn’t (although I hope you did). Rather, this is a tip o’ the hat to chocolatier Christopher Elbow and Boulevard Brewery, both leaders when it comes to local culinary collaboration.
According to the Boulevard web site, Elbow and brewmaster Steven Pauwels “sought to harmonize the interplay of chocolate and malt, with each supporting and enhancing, but not overwhelming, the other.” They picked a cocoa variety from the Dominican Republic, and then used cocoa nibs (crushed, roasted beans) in the brewing process. The result is “Smooth layers of dark chocolate intertwine with threads of caramel, vanilla, and nutty malt as the flavor warms and rounds to a bittersweet finish.”
So, how did I score my bottle? After the Kansas City Star ran a piece about how the ale was completely sold out, I hit the phones, calling liquor stores in Lawrence. I found one with two bottles. By the time I arrived, there was one left. I bought it. Today I gave it to my sweetie.
The brewery produced just 19,200 bottles and 350 one-sixth-barrel kegs, similar to other brews in its Smokestack series, according to the Star’s piece. Here’s hoping Boulevard and Elbow repeat their success on a grander scale so I can give him two next year.
April 2011 update, a note from Econ 101: scarcity drives up prices. I attended The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s fundraiser over the weekend, were two bottles of Boulevard Chocolate Ale were bringing bids of $90+ in the silent auction. All for a good cause!