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Nutcracker Ale - Boulevard Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Nutcracker AleNutcracker Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

765 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 765
Reviews: 333
rAvg: 3.73
pDev: 12.06%
Wants: 24
Gots: 63 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co. visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.80% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Nutcracker Ale is Boulevard’s holiday gift for real beer lovers. This hearty, warming brew is a classic winter ale, deep amber in color, with hints of molasses balanced by the “spiciness” of freshly harvested Chinook hops.

38 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-11-2002)
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Ratings: 765 | Reviews: 333 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beerphilosopher
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep reddish-brown color with a massive tan head with terrific retention. Sheets of lacing line the wide mouth glass - a beautiful beer. The nose is slightly candy sweet with hints of floral and herbal hops at the fore. The spicy notes really bring the Holidays to mind. This probably how a winter warmer is supposed to smell. The palate is wonderfully complex - a barrage of hops upfront, but quickly balanced out by a nice subtle sweet malt character that lends a great warm caramel and nut aspect to the beer. This beer is masterfully balanced - not a hop bomb or sweet to the point of cloying. The flavors play off of each other in a very nice way, leaving a complex yet accessible flavor profile. The mouth feel is very smooth, especially as the beer warms to near ambient temperature (probably the best serving temperature for this beer). A full-flavored and bodied beer, but not overly thick. I'd say this one is medium in mouth feel and really quite luxurious. The finish is dry with lingering herbal hops on the tongue. Probably one of the more 'drinkable' winter warmers I've sampled this season, and without a doubt one of the best as well. Very complex, yet not overbearing, flavors and an extremely well-crafted mouth feel - I have no reservations in recommending this beer to both the lover of the style and the drinker who is imbibing in a winter warmer for the very first time - substantial yet accessible. Very, very nice. Congratulations Boulevard - this may be your best so far, in my book.

Photo of allengarvin
3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Into a 12-oz mug, this is a very cloudy reddish-amber beer with a very small head. Nice aroma though, fruity with a soft, sweet maltiness and resinous hop notes. There's a hint of spiciness as well. Taste is not quite as interesting. Caramel malt vies with moderate bitterness. Fruity yeast character remains, but largely I don't find the flavor very interesting. Body is a tad watery.

Photo of timbro81
3.25/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Head billows out from my mug at the bar. I see that the color is a hazy copper in my friends glass (my mug is ceramic). Somewhat sweet, but not of the good variety, in the nose. Good malt to hop balance mingled with usual Christmas spices (ginger, cinnamon, maybe some orange). Light mouthfeel followed by a short lived aftertaste. Not the best for the style.

Photo of BradLikesBrew
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Best by 02/01/08"

a: A deep, hazy mahogany with light tan head that is quickly reduced to a thin ring around the edge.

s: Sweet malt and spicey/fruity hops.

t: Caramel, toffee, nutty malt is balanced well with chinook hops that produce notes of grapefruit, herbs, and spice.

m: Medium body and carbonation.

d: A hoppy winter warmer with nice caramel malt for balance, this is a great winter seasonal. I always look forward to this, its a good winter warmer that is great for the price. I could easily drink several of these. Another good one from Bully.

Photo of wardough
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried this beer COLD a few days ago and didn't like it. Bad idea to drink cold.
ROOM TEMP-Here's my review, drunk at 62F, just room temp in my cold ass house.

A: Poured into a beautiful pint glass. Course bubble pop to the surface and make 1.5 inches of head. It dissipates in 30 seconds to show coarse white top.
S: I get sweet pineapple with a hint of hops.
T: Malts, then spicy, followed at the end by alcohol.
M: Good. Very light Winter warmer.
D: Could drink 2-3 of these very easy on a cold winter's night.

Overall, enjoyable winter warmer. Best served at room temp.

Photo of twbrewer
3.83/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-poured into a pint glass a copper/brown hazy color with a 1-2" tan colored head that leaves a nice ring around the outside of the glass.

S-It smells of sweet malt and alcohol with a hint of spicy hops

T-Similar to the smell but has a bitter hop finish.Not as sweet as it smells.Has a nutty,tangy taste.

M-Medium bodied brew with good carbonation and nice sharp finish.

D-I tried it chilled and at room temp.Chilled it seems to be sweet,room temp seems to be the way to go for this beer.Good winter warmer,I hope to try more from Boulevard when I'm in K.C. over the holidays.

Photo of SafeAtFirst
4.18/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottle has a best-by date of 2/1/2008. Color is a bright, crystal clear ruby. With a small nut colored head with scattered lacing.

Aroma is is a balanced mix of sweet caramel malts, some dark fruits (prune?) and a citric hop blast.

The near perfect balance of malts and hops continues from the nose to the tongue. Flavor starts off with toasted whole wheat bread and a nice dollop of caramel. This is balanced out by some bitter grapefruit notes (box says fresh Chinook), lighter citric notes, and a touch of spice – all 31 IBUs are well represented here. The wheat malt adds a hint of tartness to the slightly bitter and alcoholic finish. This is a well balanced beer with a firm body and just enough carbonation.

While the hop-head in me would love to see them bottle some of the dry-hopped Nutcracker that they had at the KC Beer Fest. The regular Nutcracker is a very well-planned and well-made beer. One of my favorite winter warmers and the only one I know of with fresh hops in it.

Photo of gmfessen
4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, beer is a pretty ruby-amber color with a huge viscous off-white head. The smell is surprisingly hoppy, with hints of caramel malts. Taste is citrusy like grapefruit, but it also has some caramel and nutty characteristics. The alcohol is slightly noticeable and does have a slight warming effect. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with a viscous, creamy head. This is a drinkable beer; the only thing that takes away from it is the slightly noticeable alcohol. This is a different style of winter warmer than I am used to tasting, but it is enjoyable and I would pick it up again.

Photo of bjohnson
2.65/5  rDev -29%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

thanks to vancer for the chance to try this offering. appreciate the opportunity.

Pours a dark reddish almost maroon color with a one finger cream colored head. Quite fluffy with nice retention. Sweet malt notes with hints of dark fruit and sweet caramel. Lightish pine and grapefruit hop notes. Biscuity and bready malt profile.

Dark fruits come first. Toasted grains with a nutty characteristic. Bitterness stings the tongue. Leafy and spicy hop notes. Light mouthfeel. Carbonation is a bit too much. grassy hop notes come through as it warms. A bit more pleasant when it's colder. I'd pass again.

Photo of pmcadamis
3.25/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Reddish brown russet color with a thick foamy two finger head. Very little lace is left on the glass.

S - Big piney Sierra Nevada-esque hop aroma right of the bat (I wasn't expecting such a hoppy nose in a winter warmer). None of the expected cinnamon or nutmeg. Sorta boring. Just smells like a nicely hopped pale ale to me. Smells dry hopped.

T - Hops again up front, with some subtle mushroom and earth flavors. Odd and vegetal, but more interesting and unique than the nose. Wow....lots of mushroom flavors (I like mushrooms, so this is not a bad thing for me). I can taste a bit of nuttiness in the aftertaste, but other than that, there are just tons of hops.

M - Thick and very creamy to the point of almost being foamy. Tiny bit of sweetness up front develops into a full blown sugary coating, but an extremely dry hoppy finish sort of evens things out. I wouldn't call this balanced however.

D - I would pass on this next time. It's interesting that's for sure....it's just a very odd beer. It's trying to be an IPA, a spiced dark beer, a nut brown, and several other things all at once, and it's not really doing any of them well. It sort of reminds me of SN Celebration Ale, just nowhere near as good.

Photo of Wasatch
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to Vancer for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear dark amber color, nice carbonation, nice two finger creamy head, lots of nice sticky lacing afterwards. The nose is of sweet malts, hops, spices, and caramel. The taste is mostly sweet and malt, with a nice touch of caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, a nice little winter warmer, this is my first Boulevard brew, not bad at all.

Photo of afinepilsner
3.9/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle

Nutcracker Ale was a dark amber color and hazy. The thick tan head had good retention and left some lacing behind. The aroma was sweet malt with some citric hops. The taste was a nice blend of malt and hops. It started a little sweet with plenty of caramel malt flavor, then the hops kick in with a nice balancing bitterness with fruity citrus flavors and a dry finish. It was medium bodied with good carbonation. The drinkability was good. This is definitely one of the better beers from Boulevard and one that I look forward to every winter in my holiday mix-pack.

Photo of CU570M
4.85/5  rDev +30%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer poured a red brown color. Kind of like tea. There was no head. The smell on this one was rich and fruity. One of the most fragrant, aromic beers i have ever smelled. The taste is much the same with fruity tones. I really can't describe it. I guess kind of like starfruit. This beer has some woody notes as well. Mouthfeel was dry and enjoyable. Drinkability on this one is very high for me. WHAT A GREAT GREAT BEER!

Photo of MaltyGoodness
3/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle - 2006 edition - thanks to jhammerly

Pours a very murky chestnut brown with a dense beige head that maintains. Thick lacing on the glass.

Aroma is quite yeasty with a sweet fruitiness and a hint of hops.

Taste is yeasty upfront leading into a light caramel malt and toasted nutty flavor. Fairly sharp bitterness towards the finish with an herbal hop flavor.

Medium body, plenty of carbonation.

Extremely average across the board. Still drinkable, but very unimpressive compared to other Boulevard beers.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cherry caramel suffused with glowing sunset orange. Nutcracker has a wonderful, festive color that reminds me of any number of American barleywines. The lightly creamy, orange-tinted, golden beige cap looks good as well, even if it doesn't look like it'll be a lace monster. This is one tremendous looking winter warmer.

The nose is a keeper too, in large part because I can appreciate the citric hoppy goodness emanating from the Magnum, Cascade and Chinook. I wish the caramel maltiness and the orange and grapefruit hoppiness of the nose was even more prominent, but I've chosen not to mark it down for a wee lack of power. Besides, warming opens it up quite nicely.

Nutcracker Ale certainly has no shortage of flavor. Boulevard Brewing has seen fit to pack it with ingredients, something that I wish more brewers of winter warmers would do. From a hophead's perspective at least, this is a balanced beer. Malt and hops, sweet and bitter; both are well accounted for and neither gets the upper hand at any point along the flavor arc.

Each mouthful reminds me of well-toasted whole grain bread slathered with melted caramels and orange and white grapefruit marmalade. It's sweet and nutty and spicy and bitter and tangy all at once. I wasn't sure what to make of it initially, but now I'm definitely a fan. Warming helps, so I'll be sure to start my next bottle out at barely cool.

The mouthfeel is akin to a mid-range IPA. It may be just a tad light for a big winter warmer, but then given the ABV, it could be hardly be called a big winter warmer. It sure is big on flavor though. I'm enjoying the incredible smoothness and the perfect (read: restrained) amount of carbonation.

In poker parlance, Nutcracker Ale is the nuts! It's a fantastic winter warmer from a brewery that has previously impressed me with only two beers, Bully Porter! and Bob's '47 Munich Style Lager. I've never seen it in sixers, only in holiday packs, but I'll have to look harder from now on. Kudos to the boys from Boulevard for this flavorful, incredibly drinkable holiday treat.

Photo of objectivemonkey
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a ruddy brown with good head an nice fluffy lacing. Aroma is spicy, a nutty yeasty very abundant, and some sweet bready malts permeate a pretty decent nose. Taste is also spicy, a nicely carbonated mouth that lends a tactile zest to the slightly woody hopping and while a lovely taste and decent mouth, doesn't really register as a warmer. I'd be interested to see what happens if I sit on one of these for half a year, if it'd mellow out and round off into something a little nicer... we shall see.

Photo of ZAP
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Pretty similar to past years but I have honed in on the flavor profile a little more...fruity with strong apple cider notes....decent but not great...I see no similarities to AV Winter Solstice this time around
Update4/6/05: Getting a lot of caramel in the 2005 version....tasty..reminds a little of AV Winter Solstice....
1-13-04 Mahogany colored...nice 1/2 inch creamy tan head...nose is week...small hints of chocolate...a bit musty...nose is not a strong point...mouthfeel is relatively rich...not super thick but feels OK..sweet flavors dominate...very nutty too(walnuts?)..some small sweeter chocolate flavor notes...

Overall this reminds me of an "Imperial Nut Brown Ale"...(maybe we should add a category?)...nice winter treat...a lot of winter beers are better, but this would be worth a 6-pack every winter..

Photo of ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity... 2006 vintage.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 3/4" orangey tan head over the very cloudy orangey amber brew. Dense head lasts well, with plentiful sticky lacing. Aroma is peaches with a touch of piney hops. Taste is moderate malts, with a fruitiness in the middle, and a light hoppiness to close. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is good esp for a winter warmer. Could do with a little more pop in the flavor area, but at least they didn't overspice.

Photo of iowaero
4.43/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark amber with thin white head

S- Nice citrus pine with a very small hint of some winter spice

T - Wonderful big caramel malt with plenty of piney hops to finish. Very very tastey.

M - Very creamy, low carbonation, yet not too heavey.

D - Way too easy for 6.6. Could just have one or drink with a meal, or a session. Nice. My favorite winter warmer.

Photo of dngilb
4.4/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pours out an amber and has a small, white head.

S - Smells great... a little fruit and touch of grain.

T - I taste white grape and pear.

M - It finishes dry. Light to medium-bodied.

D - This is a pretty good winter treat and a very good offering from Boulevard. I rarely buy a 6 pack, but I did buy 6 of these.

Photo of terrabyte
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dark copper with a large white head.

Aroma is very strong with grapefruit and pine hops. A Christmas spice such as coriander or cloves sets this apart from typical grapefruit hop beers.

Flavor is very strong again with pine and grapefruit hop finish. There is a caramel base that’s a good start but disappears too quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up any other flavors that I had first smelled, or the festive label name might suggest. They really should have taken the opportunity here to add ingredients and spices for a Christmas theme, instead of taking them all out. (Or did they count a pine Christmas tree as a festive ingredient!?) The pine finish was almost an exclamation mark on a short sentence of ingredients. I find myself a bit thirsty for water.

Mouthful was thick and creamy without being heavy.

Drinkability was fine. Despite the simple flavor (and a flavor I’m not a huge fan of) it was still a smooth drinker and went down quickly.

Photo of Riggo
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance: attractive ruby/garnet color with a quickly dissipating head that even a hard pour couldn't improve.

smell: subtle. some caramel and citrusy (orange) hops.

taste: fruity, orange candy, caramel but well-balanced with a slight piney/citrusy hop character. some bubblegum toward the end and dry finish.

mouthfeel: soft and creamy with moderate carbonation. good.

drinkability: you could certainly have more than one of these as it manages to be citrusy/hoppy enough to balance out any cloying malt quality. but....

it's just not very interesting. once again boulevard manages to produce craft beer which is boring, a combination which seems to me counter-intuitive. boulevard's beers are well-made and they are certainly part of the overall trend in this country away from macro-lager crap and yet they insist on dumbing it down (with the possible exception of their bully porter), which at least to my mind involves some level of contradiction.

Photo of zeff80
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours out an orange/amber color with a small, white head. Leaves small traces of lacing.

S - Smells nutty and a little citrusy.

T - Very malty and nutty. It has a sweet citrus kick as you drink it down.

M - It is soft and dry. Light to medium-bodied.

D - This is a pretty good winter treat and a very good offering from Boulevard.

Photo of hckyfn9999
4.05/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brown with golden hues when held to light. A perfect creamy colored head lasts for a while and leaves some lacing.

Aroma is of sweet caramel malt, piney and citrus hops, and a little bit of spice.

Taste has a strong hops pressence up front along with some fruit followed up by some caramel flavor and finishing up with some spicyness from the hops. Very complex.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with a pleasant level of carbonation.

Pretty drinkable beer. Overall a very good beer to have around as the weather is cold.

Photo of rsyberg01
4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

S - 12 oz bottle. Best by Feb. 1, 07

A - Pours a deep hazy garnet. Head is smooth and retention is very nice. Sticky and inviting.

S - Nice hoppy core, surrounded by caramel, spicy characters, citrus, warming alcohol in the olfactory. Not exactly a potent hit by good all the while.

T - Raisin, fig, caramel, sweet creamy malt, hop is well spoken for. Definitely going back for more.

M - Smooth and a little creamy. Could wegh down a little more but overall its good.

D - Well balanced beer makes for great drinkability.

Note: Somewhat reminded me of a St. Berny's 12 at certain points.

Nutcracker Ale from Boulevard Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 765 ratings.