Chocolate and beer combinations are far from a novelty. More chocolate stouts seem to be coming out all the time with wondrous variations popping up left and right, such as Stone’s Cherry Chocolate Stout. It’s truly become a category in and of itself. While generally these stouts are not good for session beers, they do make a delightfully tasty treat. They’re a great reminder of how much beer can differ from the traditional American Lager I grew up seeing America drink.
What I have not seen yet, however, is a chocolate beer that is not a stout. Tonight changed that. Boulevard Brewing out of Missouri has released a Chocolate Ale as part of its daring Smokestack Series of brews. Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale is classified as an American Strong Ale, as opposed to a stout. For a beer that boasts an ABV of 9.1 percent, strong is a good way to describe it. Sitting in champagne bottles topped with caged corks, it makes a nice presentation. Most everything about this beer says, “high end.” I was quite excited to see if it held up to appearances.
It poured a murky amber color. I imagine this is what small bits of chocolate suspended in a beer might look like. This was quite the departure from the black creamy stouts I’ve seen. The head had great retention and it left lacing around the glass the entire time I was drinking it. The bubbles that constantly rose from the bottom promised decent carbonation. So far the book was living up to its cover.
As for its smell, it reminded me of a Hershey bar. This was also quite the departure from other chocolate beers I’ve had. While the Chocolate Stouts I’ve had by and large had dark chocolate flavors running rampant in them, the smell of Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale reminded me more of milk chocolate. It smelled sweet, with malts riding somewhere underneath the candy bar that was wrapped around my nose.
The taste was just like the smell. It’s like a candy bar got drunk and passed out in my mouth. There is an ale taste up front. While sweet, it does nothing to prepare you for the pure chocolate finish. I wouldn’t say there is anything too complex about the taste, but that’s OK. It goes after an idea and nails it spot on. While every other chocolate beer I’ve had tasted like they added chocolate to beer, this one was a little bit like they added beer to chocolate. The body seems light until you swallow. Then your tongue is magically coated in what seems like melted chocolate.
While not as thick as a stout, I still wouldn’t say that this Chocolate Ale is overly drinkable. Unless you have a crazy sweet tooth, a glass or two will do. With its high ABV, this is one of those times where it’s acceptable to trade that drinkability for strength and taste.
Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale seems best for sharing with a friend or two. That way you can all make the same surprised face when you swallow and realize the dark stout after taste that you expect with such a beer just isn’t coming. As tasty as this brew is, you won’t want to miss it.
Boulevard put out a winner with this one.