Midwestern Craft Beer Coming To Massachusetts: See How Our Region’s Craft Breweries Stack Up Against Boulevard Brewing Co. And Its “Smokestack Series”

Posted by erik devaney

Kansas City-based craft brewer, Boulevard Brewing Co., will break into the East Coast beer scene next month when it begins selling its Smokestack Series in Massachusetts. This series consists of four beers: Double-Wide IPA, which is a double India pale ale, Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, which is a saison/farmhouse ale, The Sixth Glass, which is a Belgian dark strong ale, and Long Strange Tripel, which is a Belgian Tripel.

If the types of beers Boulevard Brewing Co. is bringing to the Bay State sound foreign to you, then the brewery’s mission has been accomplished. As chief marketing officer, Bob Sullivan, told me in a recent phone interview, one of the underlying reasons behind bringing the Smokestack Series to Massachusetts is to show off beers that are “uniquely Boulevard.”

Sullivan pointed out that Harpoon Brewery, The Boston Beer Company and other craft

Courtesy of mo.worldclassbeverages.com

beer breweries in the area already sell “common” craft beers (like amber ales, unfiltered wheat beers and traditional-style pale ales). So instead of bringing along their ambers, wheats and pale ales, Boulevard is supplying a beer selection that will have considerably less competition.

Of course, if you know where to look, you can find Smokestack Series-equivalents amongst New England craft beers. For example, Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing Co. has its Brewmaster Series Double IPA, The Boston Beer Company has its Samuel Adams Rustic Saison and Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company has its Allagash Tripel as well as a Belgian dark strong Ale, the Allagash Odyssey. However, many of these beers are seasonally-brewed and can be tough to track down at your local liquor store.

Boulevard currently derives 91% of its sales from the Central Midwest, so breaking into the East Coast craft beer market will certainly carry some risk. As Sullivan told me, the brewery is taking an “unconventional” distribution approach. Instead of slowly expanding from the Midwest toward the East Coast, they “skipped a lot of states in-between” and are now landing in Massachusetts. The reason? New England is well-known for its “craft beer aficionados.”

Whether or not Boulevard will introduce more of its beers into the area depends upon on how Bay Staters receive the brewery’s initial offering: the Smokestack Series. As Sullivan commented, bringing over the Smokestack Series first is a way to put the brewery’s “best foot forward.” All four beers in the series rank in the high 90s on the ratebeer website. In addition, The Sixth Glass and Double-Wide IPA have won international beer-tasting awards.

Of course, having The Boston Beer Company in our backyard makes us a bit spoiled when it comes to beer awards. Since the year 2000, the Boston-based craft brewery has won more awards in international beer competitions than any other brewery in the world. However, if you take a look at the Brewers Association’s 2009 list of  “Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies by Beer Sales Volume,” you’ll see that the Boulevard brewery is no slouch. While The Boston Beer Company is #1, Boulevard Brewing Co. pops in at #8, ahead of every other New England craft brewery (Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Co. is #10, Boston’s Harpoon Brewery is #12, Maine’s Shipyard Brewing Co. is #16, Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing Co. is #23 and Vermont’s Otter Creek Brewing Co. sneaks in at #42).

The official launch date for Boulevard’s Smokestack Series in Massachusetts is September 14th. And while your fierce New England pride may discourage you from sipping on non-local craft beer, think of it this way: for the time-being, Boulevard isn’t trying to compete with our heavy-hitting craft brews, like Sam Adams Boston Lager or Harpoon IPA. Instead, they’re just trying to broaden our beer horizons (which can only be a good thing).

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Posted by erik devaney on Aug 26 2011. Filed under Lifestyle, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Midwestern Craft Beer Coming To Massachusetts: See How Our Region’s Craft Breweries Stack Up Against Boulevard Brewing Co. And Its “Smokestack Series””

  1. Jack Tatelman

    I personally can’t wait to get this brand to market. My company is part of the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance and this is our first brand under the new LLC. We are all very excited to make this brand a local favorite among the craft consumer

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