Since Boulevard Brewing Co. was founded in 1989, its brewery tours have become so popular it has had to turn away thousands of visitors each year.
But no longer.
A year ago, Boulevard purchased a four-story building at 2534 Madison Ave., next to its brewery at 2501 Southwest Blvd. This month it opened the doors to its new 20,000-square-foot visitor center, spread over two floors of the building.
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The 10,000-square-foot first floor has an experience area with exhibits on the history of beer and breweries such as Goetz Brewing Co., as well as one of Boulevard’s first kegs.
An expanded gift shop has Boulevard T-shirts, postcards, squeaky pet toys, barware, bottled and canned Boulevard beer, beeswax candles made with Bully Porter, Tank 7-infused salt from Wood + Salt, pickles infused with Cascade hops, and Dark Truth Stout beard balm.
The exhibits and gift store are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. But visitors should check the website for the most updated hours.
In back is an expanded tasting room for end-of-tour samples, seating more than 100 visitors.
The second-floor beer hall can seat as many as 300 people indoors and 100 more on the outdoor deck with views of the downtown skyline. It offers as many as 24 Boulevard beers on tap, plus bottled beers and some test beers — currently a black walnut ale, a milk stout, a dry-hopped Helles and a cranberry orange Radler.
The menu highlights Boulevard beers as well as some local and regional specialty food companies. There’s the Bully Porter Banger, an Irish-style sausage made with Bully Porter; a cheese board with Green Dirt Farm’s the Sixth Grass; Veggies & Dip with onion dip made with Love Child vinegar; and snacks.
But Boulevard said the beer hall is not a bar, so there are no televisions and no table service. The facility will not be rented for private functions.
It also has board games and foosball and a 1957 white-and-aqua Shasta trailer that serves as a photo booth. The beer hall is currently open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
“It’s an opportunity to show you who we are in a live setting,” said Amber Ayres, director of tours and recreation. “We didn’t want to lose the great vibes of our old tasting room. We wanted to have a cool space, a great place to drink beer.”
The building was constructed in 1929 for Skelly Oil Co. It now has polished concrete floors, high ceilings with a central staircase, and wood repurposed from old brewery buildings and a six-generation Missouri farm.
Boulevard added more than 30 employees in May to staff the visitor center.
The fourth floor will be for offices, but the company is still considering options for the third floor.
In other Boulevard news, the company has expanded its distribution in Pennsylvania through agreements with Nittany Beverage, Wilsbach Distributors Inc., Kirchner’s Beverage Distributor, Mid-State Beverage Co. and Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Co., as well as agreements for new states — Brescome Barton for Connecticut and NKS Distributors for Delaware.