Taste test: Does Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale live up to the hype?

02/06/2014 2:24 PM

02/06/2014 2:24 PM

After a two-day distribution delay

, Chocolate Ale is pouring into Kansas City liquor stores.

Boulevard Brewing Company’s cocoa-infused brew

sold out immediately

after it was released in 2011 and 2012. So after snagging a sample bottle last week, we wasted no time popping the cork.

Ten Kansas City Star staffers volunteered for our impromptu and highly unscientific Chocolate Ale taste test. (Tough job, right?) Our batch of volunteers included beer geeks, casual beer drinkers, aficionados of wine and whiskey, and one person who doesn’t like beer at all.

Chocolate Ale poured a deep amber color, with a white head of foam. Most tasters described the aroma as “yeasty,” and only a handful picked up the delicate cocoa aroma, which front page designer Charles Gooch described as “chocolate bread.”

Lifestyle columnist Jenee Osterheldt, who prefers cider to beer, couldn’t detect cocoa in the aroma or taste of the beer. “Where’s the chocolate?” she said. “It’s just not there.”

Others tasted the cocoa right off the bat, but found that it faded away. “By sip three, I had to really work to find the chocolate,” said Ink editor and IPA orderer Jennifer Hack.

The beer’s subtle cocoa flavor and creamy texture were welcomed by volunteers who prefer balanced, slightly malty beers.

Editor/reporter Scott Canon, whose favorite beer is Boulevard’s Bob’s ‘47 Oktoberfest, didn’t like Chocolate Ale the first time he tried it. He said this batch was way better.

“I liked it,” Canon said. “I’d actually drink more than one glass.”

Web editor Adam Darby, a wheat beer drinker who had never tried Chocolate Ale, called it “better than expected.” Reporter Ed Eveld, who doesn’t usually like strong beers, was surprised he liked Chocolate Ale.

“I taste the chocolate,” Eveld said. “It’s smoother than I expected — very easy going down.”

Chocolate Ale was not as popular with the bold beer drinkers at our table.

Public editor Derek Donovan likes the bitterness of a super-hoppy IPA. Chocolate Ale couldn’t convert him to the malt side (”Not my favorite style,” he said) but he said he would recommend it to friends.

“I’d say lots of people would like it,” Donovan said.

Gooch and editorial columnist Steve Paul said they’d rather drink a stronger double chocolate stout beer. And copy editor Elaine Garrison, a whiskey and scotch sipper with a weakness for Boulevard’s Rye-On-Rye, said that compared to 2012’s batch of Chocolate Ale, this one was just “meh.”

The verdict:

Collectively, our test group gave Chocolate Ale 3.2 out of 5 rating, with 1 being awful and 5 being awesome. Seven out of 10 said Chocolate Ale was worthy of buying and/or recommending to friends.

The analyis:

Those who like well-balanced, slightly malty beers will dig that Chocolate Ale’s kiss of cocoa isn’t overpowering. And light beer drinkers curious to try a beer with higher alcohol content (Chocolate Ale is 9.1 percent alcohol by volume) might like this boozy brew, which goes down easy.

On the flipside, if you’re a hop head, a devoted stout drinker, or someone who doesn’t like beer at all, Chocolate Ale might not be your bag. And if you’re looking for a super-sweet elixer that tastes like a chocolate bar in a glass, that’s what

Christopher Elbow drinking chocolate

is for.

The bottom line: Chocolate Ale elicits some strong opinions. And it does not

pair well with Cookie Dough Oreos.

“Don’t eat chocolate with this beer!” said Charles Gooch after his Chocolate Ale tasting fail. “Bitter overload.”

Have you tried Chocolate Ale? Give us your take by commenting here or tweeting us @chowtownkc.

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