20 Jun The Beer Drop: Boulevard Saison Brett
In the spotlight is their Saison Brett, a Dry-Hopped Farmhouse Ale with Brettanomyces. Only brewed every so often in small batches, this ale happens to be a funky take on one of their flagship brews, the Tank 7 (also making its debut on our menu this week).
To learn more about the beers and the traditions of this Midwestern craft house, I recently caught up with Jeremy ‘Noodles’ Danner, Boulevard’s Ambassador Brewer, for a quick conversation. Keep scrolling to read on! Cheers –
Tell us about Saison Brett:
I, personally, believe that Saison Brett is the best beer that we brew at BLVD. This beautiful, complex, funky Saison came about as a result of Steven Pauwels (BLVD Brewmaster) desire to introduce more earthy flavors and aromas into a Saison we’d been brewing for a couple of years. We upped the ABV a touch, dry-hopped the beer and inoculated it with Brettanomyces bruxellensis at packaging.
I prefer Saison Brett to be served cool (not cold, in the mid to high 40s) in a tulip glass with a wide bowl and narrow top to gather and direct all the funky brett notes and bright, citrusy hops to my nose.
And Tank 7?
Tank 7 is the base beer for Saison Brett and actually became its own beer following the introduction of Saison Brett. Stylistically, I’d describe Tank 7 as BLVD’s twist on a Belgian-style Saison. We’ve amped up the ABV to 8.5, but the beer is still quite dry and features fruity/spicy notes from our house Belgian yeast strain that are accented by grapefruit/citrus character from dry-hopping with a blend of Amarillo, Citra and Calypso.
What’s your craft beer story? And what’s this about ‘Noodles’ being your brewery nickname?
I had my awakening moment on my 21st birthday. My buddy was a brewer at a local pub and he invited me in for lunch and beers. As I was walking in, I saw him climbing out of the mash tun after cleaning it. It was in that moment that I became aware of the fact that people made beer. I’d never really thought about it before. At that point, I became obsessed and drank/read anything I could get my hands on.
They used to call me “Noodles” because I would eat ramen noodles nearly every day (because they’re delicious), but these days most folks simply call me “Danner.” I no longer have a first name.
How long has Boulevard been around now?
We consider our anniversary to be the day that Founder John McDonald loaded a keg of Pale Ale into his pickup truck and made his first sale to Ponak’s Mexican Kitchen, just down the street from the brewery. That was November 17th, 1989.
Our story is quite similar to a lot of the breweries that started in the 1980s. Not satisfied with the beer that was available to him, John started brewing at home and he was so good at it (and fell in love with the process so much) that friends and family convinced him to open a brewery.
Where is the name from?
Boulevard Brewing Company is located on Southwest Boulevard, a major street that’s nicknamed “The Boulevard” by locals.
What drives the look of your branding and labels?
Since the early days of the brewery, we’ve always employed in-house artists to design our labels and branding. Beginning with Payton Kelly in 1989, who was actually one of John McDonald’s homebrewing buddies, to our current team that includes Payton, Frank Norton, Joel Herman and Eric McLaughlin, we’ve felt it’s important to have folks around who know/understand/love BLVD working on our labels and branding.
Where does the inspiration for your beer names come from?
We drink. Sort of. Inspiration for beer names comes from a lot of places, but we always try to speak to the beer first before seeing how clever we can be. We strongly believe that beer should inform the marketing and not the other way around. We hold multiple brainstorming sessions and have conversations with other departments before presenting naming/branding options to brewery leadership.
Tell us about your neck of the woods! What are some ways you interact with the community there?
We’re in Kansas City, Missouri, and I feel that BLVD has done a great job of connecting with the city since the very beginning. Whenever possible, we donate beer to charitable causes that align with our values and we often offer up brewery event spaces for charity events.
Boulevard is part of Duvel Moortgat, one of the most historic beer companies out there – how does being part of their collection of breweries shape what you do at Boulevard?
We obviously feel quite fortunate to be a part of the Duvel family of breweries. While they’ve been around a long time, they’re also no strangers to innovation and the best brewing technology. Having that extra layer of influence and knowledge coming from our parent company is invaluable.
Hot Hop Takes
Favorite craft beer festival:
I know that I’m supposed to say Taps & Tastes, the beer festival we host as part of Boulevardia, but I’m going to go with the Westport Strong Ale Fest. My wife, Randyl Danner, is the director of hospitality for a local restaurant group, and her cold weather, big beer festival she holds outdoors in November is a riot. It seems like it always devolves into a craft beer dance party by the end. I love it!
Biggest beer pet peeve:
Worrying about what other people are drinking. I’m a major beer geek, but I don’t have any idea why some folks want to worry about what the person next to them at the bar is drinking. Let people enjoy things.
Next big beer trend:
I see a big time return to more drinkable/sessionable beers as craft brewers look to court a more mainstream drinking audience. I don’t know about other folks, but certainly didn’t cut my craft beer teeth on 15% barrel-aged imperial stouts.
Noodles, thanks for sharing Boulevard with us! We can’t wait to pop over to the beer hall the next time we’re in KC (who’s with us??) – in the meantime, pick up a bottle of Saison Brett to pair with your favorite cheese at a movie in the park this week.