Before the explosion in local craft brewing took place in Northwest Arkansas, Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City was considered our “local” beer. Boulevard has for years been a staple on the draft list of area restaurants and bars, with offerings such as their wheat, pale ale, porter, and stout. These beers represent traditional styles that are highly drinkable due to their low alcohol-by-volume numbers. One can sit and drink several without falling out of his or her chair. The last few years, however, have seen Boulevard up the ante with their Smokestack Series, a lineup of specialty beers with a more adventurous approach, and often an accompanying ABV much higher than their traditional fare.
One of those beers is known as Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale, a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale that is more commonly referred to as a Saison. Saisons are characterized by a light to medium body with a spicy or peppery zing from the unique yeast strands used in the fermentation process. It is a thirst quencher, a beer that can be enjoyed on a hot summer day due to its high carbonation and lack of aggressive bittering.
Tank 7 is a perfect example of why a Saison is such a pleasure to drink. I recently sampled a 12-oz. bottle at the end of a brutal work day. Pouring the beer into a standard pint glass yielded a moderately carbonated sample of a light straw-like color. The head quickly subsided, but the bubbles aggressively flowed from the bottom of the glass to the top. The beer was somewhat hazy with just a touch of sediment due to the bottle conditioning that is common with all Boulevard beers. Don’t worry, though, that sediment is simply the hard-working yeast that created the beer’s carbonation. It’s safe to consume and actually provides a shot of B vitamins that are good for the human body.
The aroma was very nice, with hints of banana, spice, and lemon. There was a subtle clove-like characteristic hiding somewhere in there as well, but it stayed in the background and never came out in full force. I took a sip of the beer and found spice, citrus, and banana flavors on the palate supported by a strong backbone of bread and malt. The beer finished dry with a noticeable alcohol presence, not unpleasant, but at 8.5% ABV very much there to remind you that drinking too many might result in undesirable consequences. The beer’s bitterness is just high enough to balance the sweetness of the malt, but not overpower the interesting flavors created by the yeast used in creating this fine ale.
Tank 7 is a top flight beer that is perfect for hot Arkansas summers. Available in 750mL or 4-pack bottles, it can be found in most area liquor stores that have a craft beer section. Give it a try and you’ll be sure to quench your thirst!