Boulevard Brewing Company became a staple in my beer-buying rotation last year, when I moved two hours west of its home in Kansas City. From its year-round core lineup to the exciting limited releases and the always-solid Smokestack Series, Boulevard is a brewery that seems to hit the mark more often than it misses.
This is why I was so surprised that I initially didn’t care for one of their newest year round offerings: The aptly named berry ale Jam Band. When I tried the beer, I was left unimpressed with the offering that drank more like an artificial juice pouch than the well-crafted ales I associate with Boulevard. It is worth noting though that this impression didn’t exactly come under ideal circumstances. Boulevard calls Jam Band a "summer beer," and though I last drank it in mid-April, Eastern Kansas was very much still in the grips of winter.
I decided to give the beer another chance during its intended setting. So, on our first 80-degree day, I cracked one open after my first battle with our lawn for what I hoped would be a new and refreshing experience.
Once again, Boulevard has taken a style I usually pass over and made something worthwhile.”
Jam Band is the kind of beer that will stain your shirt, it looks less like an ale and more like a glass of sangria, with a surprisingly nice pinkish-white head. That color would usually be a turn-off, but not on a day like today that’s downright hot when the wind dies down. It looks refreshing, and the reddish-pink hue almost matches the purple can.
The aroma smells more beer-y than the appearance lets on, with plenty of yeastiness to compliment the fruity qualities. The beer features blueberry, red raspberry and cherry, which combine for a explosion of berry flavor with each sip. The fruit-flavor is not limited to berries, with melon and citrus notes helping to round out the taste.
The sweetness is a touch too much for me, but Boulevard did a nice job complimenting it with a prevalent and lasting tartness. Fruit beers have a tendency to get syrupy and thick. Jam Band avoids this fate by virtue of an extremely soft mouthfeel. Almost effervescent, this light-bodied beer evaporates off the palate leaving only some residual berry tartness behind.
Once again, Boulevard has taken a style I usually pass over and made something worthwhile. Though my initial impression of Jam Band wasn’t ideal, under the right circumstances—paired with some sunshine—it’s a beer that is worth the gamble.