February 2 is the first day rabid fans can get their hands on this year’s version of Boulevard‘s cult-status Chocolate Ale. What began as a beer like any other in Boulevard’s Smokestack Series is now the biggest specialty release of year. How big? Boulevard is swamped with calls about its availability, and has tried to alleviate some of the madness with this explainer. TL;DR edition: The beer hits taps around the Kansas City area on Feb. 2, with retailers receiving shipments throughout this first week of February.
Thousands of miles away, we’ve been holding on to a bottle of the first-ever release of Chocolate Ale from 2011. After I removed the stubborn cork, I was glad to see that the beer still pours a somewhat hazy, ruby brown with noticeable carbonation and a chocolate-raisin aroma. Carbonation holds up on the sip; this beer is surprisingly lively and bright for a 4-year-old at 9% ABV. I predominantly taste milk chocolate-covered strawberry, with a pucker that reminds me of a still-ripening berry. On the swallow, cocoa powder lingers with tart fruit, like a cherry cordial.
While you certainly don’t need us to tell you that, yeah, Chocolate Ale is worth buying if you find it, consider this a reminder to pick up an additional bottle for cellaring. Developed fruit flavors intertwine deliciously with the chocolate, making this a beer for sour drinkers and chocolate fans alike. In short: Believe the hype.