Chow Town

Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale returns in February 2014

Boulevard Brewing Company’s highly sought-after Chocolate Ale is coming back in February 2014.

The limited edition Smokestack Series beer, a collaboration with Kansas City chocolate maker Christopher Elbow, is brewed with real cocoa nibs. It was first released in 2011.

When Chocolate Ale was again released in 2012,

many customers had a hard time getting their hands on a 750-milliliter bottle of the wildly popular beer

. And after it was discovered that some batches contained off flavors,

Boulevard offered customers refunds.

“It was a complete fiasco,” says brewmaster Steven Pauwels.

The brewery decided not to release Chocolate Ale in 2013. But Pauwels says customers who visited the brewery kept asking when the cocoa-infused ale would be back.

“We felt the pressure,” he says, and Boulevard decided to bring Chocolate Ale back in mid-February 2014.

The beer is not in production yet — Pauwels says he’s waiting on an order of cocoa nibs from Valrhona, the French chocolate manufacturer that supplied the nibs for previous batches of Chocolate Ale.

The brewery plans to make more Chocolate Ale this time around, but Pauwels says he hasn’t decided exactly how much more.

Boulevard announced Chocolate Ale’s comeback this morning on its Facebook page by

posting a photo of Pauwels

holding a glass of Chocolate Ale and wearing a Two Jokers t-shirt.

“A little preview of some beer releases returning to our lineup in 2014,” read the Facebook post.

Two Jokers, a summer seasonal from 2011, will return in mid-July 2014.

Two Jokers has a smaller following than Chocolate Ale, Pauwels says, “but the following is extremely outspoken.”

“There are definitely people out there who think that’s one of the best beers we’ve ever made,” the brewmaster says.

Other returning Smokestack Series beers include Rye-on-Rye in January, Love Child No. 4 in May and Bourbon Barrel Quad in October. The complete lineup is below and subject to change based on brewing schedules.

Boulevard made international news last week when it was announced that

the Kansas City brewery was being sold to a Belgian brewer, Duvel Moortgat.

Pauwels says the sale of the brewery won’t change Boulevard’s Smokestack Series releases, which often debut in Kansas City.

“We’re a Kansas City brewery,” he says. “We made great efforts to make sure everything we make is released in KC first.”

Boulevard’s planned 2014 Smokestack Series releases

January: Rye-on-Rye

Mid-February: Chocolate Ale

April: Grain-Storm Black Rye IPA

May: Love Child No. 4

June: Saison-Brett

Mid-July: Two Jokers Double-Wit

September: Collaboration No. 4 (TBD)

October: Bourbon Barrel Quad

November: Harvest Dance

December: Imperial Stout

Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes bar and dining guides for Ink magazine. Contact her via email at or tweet @sarah_gish.