Founded in 1984, Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co. has grown from the dream of a carpenter turned homebrewer into one of the most highly regarded and well distributed craft brands in America. A list of offerings that began with the flagships Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat has now evolved into a brewery that has produced well over 150 beers according to our directory.
Given founder John McDonald’s fondness for Belgians, Boulevard’s sour program was practically inevitable, and some of the best sour beer out of the brewery is featured in the Love Child Series. Originally part of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series, Love Child now stands alone.
The series is a progression of wild ales that are always barrel-aged and inoculated with wild yeast cultures like Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus. The reception is remarkably consistent given the constant tinkering between releases – every edition of Love Child averages at least a 4.10 rating on Untappd.
The most recent release, Love Child No. 8, is a blend of two wood-aged sours. Boulevard combined “multiple vintages of a Flanders-style sour red ale and a sour Belgian-style golden” to create No. 8, which the brewery says “features soft lactic acidity punctuated with slight acetic notes and a tart, fruity flavor reminiscent of sour cherries and green strawberries.”
Not sure my palate is that advanced, but we’ll see.
Despite its sourness and ABV, Love Child No. 8 manages to drink surprisingly light.”
In the glass, Love Child No. 8 is a deep amber with a hint of red. A cream colored head of tight small bubbles fades to a murky cloud on top of the beer – which is almost totally opaque in my drinking vessel.
Leaning in to gauge the aroma finds a heavy sour smell with some barnyard funk. Buried underneath is the aroma of grape – or maybe wine. This beer smells musty in the best way.
Boulevard’s labels for its Love Child Series helpfully feature a scale for three “key personality traits” of the beer: Funk, Sour, and Fruit. Love Child No. 8 scores high in sour followed by funk and then fruit. Boulevard notes these may change over time, but I feel like they nailed it at the snapshot in time I’m drinking.
The first taste brings apparent sourness that starts off right away and lingers until it finishes on the back of your tongue after each sip. It certainly is not a soft lactic acidity and I don’t pick up much of the fruity tartness of cherry or strawberry. After the shock of initial sourness starts to fade and before it hits you again on the back end, the funk from added cultures provides a brief respite. Deep underneath it all on the fourth or fifth sip, some Belgian qualities peek out along with a light sweetness.
Being a barrel aged sour at 9% alcohol by volume, I’d like to pick up more wood and booziness. Neither is very present, and combined with the toned down fruit flavor, my palate is left searching for something to calm down the strong sourness.
Despite its sourness and ABV, Love Child No. 8 manages to drink surprisingly light. It is smooth and drinkable with slightly drying carbonation. It is the feel of the beer that would get me to buy it again.
The lack of strong enough complimenting flavors is what ultimately holds Love Child No. 8 back from being great. More funk, wood, Belgian and booze notes would elevate this beer to a whole new level. Still, it is interesting enough that I’ll definitely pick up a bottle of Love Child No. 9.