By Andy Phelps

Boulevard is not new to me at all, but their Tasting Room beers certainly are, as they're only available in mixed 12 packs. Luckily, someone broke one up and a this limited-edition oatmeal stout on the shelves at a local store, and I've actually never reviewed a Boulevard beer properly (I dealt with them on their collaboration with Sierra Nevada called Terra Incognita), so here we go!

This one says it's "Best By" 3/21/15, which is in two days... cuttin' it close! Luckily, as a stout, it shouldn't suffer from any appreciable hop freshness issues as it should lean malty, but I'll be interested to see if it has any weird flavors from being on a shelf/my basement. The pour is nicely dark and oily-black with zero light penetration and a nice mocha-colored head that almost instantly sinks down to a finger with a dense surface and some spotty, soapy, sudsy lacing.


Not a bad looker here; that first pour was pretty exceptional. In the nose I'm picking up a lot of the typical stout notes such as black coffee, caramel, dark chocolate... there's also a slight herbal-ness to it and a rough-hewn brown sugar-esque influence in the nose that seems really interesting. I'm drinking this close to cellar temperature (55 degrees F, roughly) so I'm pulling out a lot more of the sugary character here, which is nice. Doesn't say how strong it is, but looking it up I find it's 5.5 percent and that seems about right for what I'm smelling. No sniff of alcohol or any off-scents. Palate is pretty full-bodied and coating with a good bit of creme brulee, coffee and cocoa powder along with the requisite oaty flavor softening the entire thing. Very easily drinkable, and that herbal tone from the nose carries in to the finish a little bit. A lot of other online reviewers are calling this "light bodied," but I feel like it's just about in the right place for an oat-based American stout. I've always liked these. My first Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout was a glorious awakening to the power of the oat in beer, and this doesn't let down my memory of the style. Carbonation is on the low-medium side of things with a very soft and massaging feel that is approachable overall.

No new ground being broken here, but not every beer needs to blow my mind. Sometimes a well-made beer by a brewery consistently pushing the envelope is a really apt choice to put right into my glass. Well-built and with a lot of great flavors... very well-balanced and super drinkable. Not gonna argue with this one. Is it worth buying a whole twelve-pack so you can get some of these? Nah, not really unless you love the other stuff in there. Do I think this should be a year-round beer for BLVD? Sure! Sixers of this would be a great use of shelf-space, as they don't currently have any year-round or rotating stouts in national distribution that aren't in big bottles or insanely strong. This deserves to be tried by many more people than the audience it probably made it out to. Good stuff! Cheers!

The official breakdown:

  • Style: Oatmeal Stout
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Appearance: Oily-black thickness with an initially-huge mocha head that settles down to a tan ring on the surface; lacing is spotty and wipes itself out as the beer drinks
  • Scent: Lots of day-old black coffee, caramel, brown sugar and raw cocoa with some slight herb and earthy tones; a slight dusting of yeast/starch
  • Taste: Smooth and detailed chocolate/coffee with some creme brulee, coarse brown sugar, steel-cut oats, black maltiness and a slight kiss of earthy and herbal hops
  • Mouthfeel: Nicely centered on the tongue with a touch of sweetness from the oats; carbonation is lively at first but definitely settles down to "smooth" towards the end
  • Drinkability: A near-perfect session stout... now that we're exiting traditional "stout season." I look forward to this being available more often!