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Collaboration No. 1 - Imperial Pilsner - Boulevard Brewing Co.

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Collaboration No. 1 - Imperial PilsnerCollaboration No. 1 - Imperial Pilsner

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190 Ratings

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Ratings: 190
Reviews: 152
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 8.5%
Wants: 17
Gots: 5 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co. visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Pilsner |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: bort11 on 01-14-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For this inaugural installment of collaboration brews, we invited distinguished Belgian brewer Jean-Marie Rock to join our own Steven Pauwels for a zymological alliance. The two conspired to revive a recipe from the very beginning of Rock’s career, the memory of which he has cherished for more than 30 years. A starkly simple recipe combined with a painstakingly complex brewing process produce an Imperial Pilsner of subtle elegance and delicately balanced contrasts. First wort hopping, a very old technique in which hops normally added late in the boil are put in at the beginning, and allowed to steep for a much longer time, gives the beer an especially refined hop aroma and flavor. The 100% Pilsner malt makes a clear, yet restrained statement, answered by a stead, harmonious chorus of Saaz hop bitterness, echoes of which linger in the dry, crisp finish.

29 IBU
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 190 | Reviews: 152
Photo of zeff80
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a slightly hazy, straw yellow color with gold highlights. It had a huge (3 finger) head of white, bubbly foam that left behind thin, patches of lace.

S - It had a very yeasty nose with floral notes and a strong grain/caramel malt blend. There was a touch of spice and funk.

T - A fascinating taste. It has all the great pilsener qualities of caramel malt with floral hop notes but brings a funky, farmhouse saison quality and a fruity, tripel kick.

M - It was very dry, crisp and smooth. A light to medium-bodied lager.

D - This is one of the best (and certainly most unique) pilseners that I've ever had. It's a great collaboration beer that I wish could become a staple.

Photo of KI9A
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A: Foggy yellow, big head, fades into nice lace windows.

S: Saison. With more malt.

T: Again, screams saison, but, followed up with crisp hops ( Saazs, I assume). Some tart green apple.

M: Sticky, dry.

D: Big time. 8% ABV draws it back some though.

Photo of turamarth
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in the proper Smokestack Goblet.

Appearance: Poured with the expected copious head. 2 1/2 fingers of head, at least, of a white fizzy color. Leaves a little lacing, and reduced to a cm thick layer on top. The body is a nice golden yellow color, but not nearly as clear as I thought it would be. I know it is filtered, but it is not clear at all. I like it, seeing a pils that isn't like a piss stained window. Not the best looking smokestack however.

Smell: This is an interesting nose. The pils malts make a definite appearance in the nose here. The Saaz hops also blend in, to make a top notch smelling pils. But, this pils has some notes that smell disticntly Belgian. Some grassy, and estery smells. Rather pleasing.

Taste: Similar to the nose, just amped up a little. A strong traditional pils malty base, tasty barley. The Saaz hops, like the bottle says, add a crisp, dry finish. Also, they add to the Belgian grassy notes. Probably the best pils I've had, and a good introduction to the Imperial Pils.

Mouthfeel: A bright fizzyness, mixed with the thicker body is nice. Makes for a refreshing mouthfeel. Crisp and bright. Not too thick, but not thin...no where near thin.

Drink: For being a bit higher in ABV, this goes down smooth and refreshing. Mixed with the nice mouthfeel and the impressive flavors...this is a good drink.

Photo of jsh420
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

batch # 1-2009
best by 09/2010

pours cloudy yellow with a 1+ finger head that left spotted lacing

smells like a fruity saison

taste - upfront the belgian yeast fruity apples little honey and then the spice from the saaz hops - i dont get pils at all but it still tastes great

mouthfeel is great very crisp and dry - heavy carbonation much like an orval

drinkability is great - this would be a perfect summer beer but it is still nice to have a crisp light fresh saison/pils?? in the middle of winter

Photo of Monkeyknife
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a hazy lemon yellow with a thick, rocky white head.

The aroma is a perfume of spicy hops, apple, lemon peel and earthy biscuit. It really blooms as the beer warms.

The taste is much like the aroma with lemon peel, apple, spicy and grassy hops and biscuit. A bit of candy sugar sweetness in the finish. The 8% alcohol is very well-hidden.

Lighter bodied and crisp with a sharp carbonation.

I initially thought this beer might have a more Belgian yeast influence due to the collaboration with Orval. I'm actually glad that it didn't. This is a terrific tasting traditional Imperial Pilsner.

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked and caged bottle served in a Tank 7 tulip. Cork came off with a big pop. Lots of carbonation in this one. Poured a slightly hazy pale gold with a huge fluffy head. Noble hop aroma with some bready malt. Light to medium bodied. Some citrus in the flavor. Pretty simple beer, just a nice malt base and a crisp hop bite. The hype around this beer had me expecting a bit more.

Photo of Reaper16
4.36/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle served into a 2009 Boulevard Smokestack Series chalice

Damn, this is pretty. I expect nothing less from a Smokestack Series beer; Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels has mastered the art of perfect looking beer. Collaboration No. 1 is no different. It pours a very pale lemon shade of yellow. Though super-light in color -- light enough to see the carbonation bubbles rise in pretty pillars to the top of the glass -- there is just enough cloudiness to the body to lend the bear a hazy glow when held to direct light. The stark white head is two fingers or more at its peak with fairly sticky lacing. I don't know the exact detail of the old-world brewing methods that Pauwels and Rock used but these techniques sure delivered a gorgeous beer.

The aroma strikes first with a very drying sort of band-aid phenolic thing before lending to the airy, doughy pilsner malt. As the beer warms and opens up there are frankly Orval-like Beligan pale ale aromas coming out. Lots of apple skin and lemongrass and bittering hops. Its yeasty for sure but there is a restraint holding things back. Its pretty fruity for a pils but plenty good smelling.

The fruit esters are imminently noticeable on the tongue. Apple skin and pear flesh and squeezed lemon brighten up the malt. The pilsner malt is clean and bready and a great backbone for the yeasty flavors and the leafy, astringent hops. Brewing spice -- clove, most likely -- swirls around all of the flavors as the beer warms. This is as much a Belgian Pale as it is an old-world Pils; whatever it is it is a clean, technical, well-executed brew.

I typically prefer my pilsners to be very light in mouthfeel but there are some stronger, more yeast-centric flavors in this Imperial strength pils. Thankfully the body has been thickened to accommodate the increased flavor profile. While medium-bodied, Collaboration No. 1 doesn't sacrifice in carbonation level. The beer is at all times lively and prickly with jets of bubbles. This carbonation helps keep this refreshing, a key quality of a good pilsner. That sense of refreshment works with the flavors to make this a very drinkable beer, especially with food. This would be delightful with a grilled burger or a simple summer salad.

When this beer was announced there was some trepidation at the fact that it would be an imperial pilsner. After all, this is a monumental event for craft beer! This beer marks the first time that an American craft brewery has collaborated with the brewmaster of one of the seven Trappist breweries worldwide! Shouldn't such a huge collaboration -- one between the Brettonamyces loving brewers of Saison-Brett and Orval -- be something more daring, more innovative? Imperial Pilsner sounds boring but this beer, I assure you, is not. Pauwles and Jean-Marie Rock used long-extinct brewing methods to craft a beer that Rock has wanted for years to give to the world. This refreshing, delicious pilsner is worth buying and enjoying not only because it is a limited release, not only because it is an important collaboration, but because it is a flat-out very good beer. Don't miss out.

Photo of brownbeer
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden but with some depth and a lasting head. Pretty much spot-on for an old-school pilsner with more flavor and body. The pilsner malt character is really clean and well defined with only a slight earthy/lemony hop kick in the finish. It also has a nice minerality that stands out and the alcohol is very well masked.

Overall, I guess i'm glad they didn't go with extreme hops in this one and it is a really nice beer. But I was hoping for something a bit more challenging or complex from these great brewers.

Photo of acelin
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the large champagne bottle into a pint glass. 9 months out from the best served by date.

This beer doesn't look like our typical Pils. It's thicker looking, darker without that golden shine, and somewhat cloudy. It's most likely a different kind of yeast - Belgian origin perhaps? Looks a lot like Orval's Ale, which makes sense because the brewery this beer was collaborated on with is Orval. Pretty impressive!

It smells a lot like the ingredients, which makes sense. Very fruity smelling Pils malt, somewhat like lemon/lemongrass. Hops are ever-present.

The taste is much the same, but it seems the what I think are Belgian yeast make this into something more than a Pils. It has a lot in common with a Saison/ Blonde Ale in my opinion. If you are looking for a true Pils, try Boulevard's Pilsner. This is more like a mix between a Saison/Pilsner, and is only Imperial in ABV amount - not taste. It's not necessarily huge, just more complex than your average Pils. It's unique, tasty, drinkable, and filling. I would suggest if if you want something interesting, however, don't expect something like Boulevard's other Pils.

Photo of augustgarage
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy monsterfat (thanks!). Poured from a 750mL bottle into my pilsner glass. Batch 1 - 2009; best before September, 2010.

A careful pour still yields half a glass of rocky snow white stiff peaks - a visible Belgian influence. The hazy pale pear/chartreuse body emits a hornets nest of tiny bubbles. Rich, sticky, globules of lacing are left behind as the head finally begins to recede.

Pilsner malt and yeast combine very well in the nose - pear skins, green apple, hay, wildflowers - all very subtle and unified. Reminds me of some Belgian Pale Ales (e.g. La Chouffe) but much less sweet and overt.

Saaz hops are present but enveloped in a honey-like sweetness, with winter fruit and hints of baguette mid-palate. The profile grows slowly more floral and dry into the finish. A light bitterness keeps things crisp. Well balanced after-taste with hints of spice and clover in addition to an almost cracker-like malt. Clean, no off flavors at all.

High carbonation, almost creamy, refreshing and light, but with an impression of added body...perhaps from the ABV, which is otherwise invisible.

I'm not normally a huge pilsner fan, but this is so well crafted and again, compares well to many Belgian Pale Ales as well as Bohemian Pilseners - very subtle and impressive, just as worth seeking out as the better known Smokestack Series offerings.

Rating for style, this is near the apex of those examples I've thus far tried.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Really pretty/classy 750 corked and caged bottle; Batch no. 1-2009

Appearance: Ever-so-slightly hazy dark straw gold beer; high levels of carbonation with a big stark white cap with great staying power.

Smell: Really fresh, crisp, and clean, with nice earthy/spicy hop notes in and light, grainy malt balanced quite nicely. No alcohol detected, despite the abv.

Taste: Herbal, spicy hops, nice and a touch grassy; very light, ultra-dry malts as well. Wonderfully balanced nice, firm, but not overpowering bitterness on the finish. Refreshing. Ends quite dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, crisp.

Drinkability: High, especially for the abv.

Conclusion: I'm not a fan of imperial pilseners. Well, maybe I shouldn't say that, as the only one I've had is Panzer. I did not like it. But damn. This is a good beer. It perfectly fits my personal vision of "imperial." It's very much a typical pilsener, just amped up to the n'th power. And it's quite good. Not what I would have guessed for a collaboration with Orval's head-brewer, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

Photo of JEdmund
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pale honey yellow, strong torrent of bubbles rising to the three inch plus cap of frothy foam. Cap hangs around and leaves some thick lace curtains along the way.

Minerally, earthy, grassy, tart, honey. Overall fairly light and not indicating this is an imperial style beer.

Taste & Body
Definitely not just a pilsner; this packs in some flavor for such a light looking beer. It has a strong malt body that somewhat reminds me of stronger Belgian pales. The spicy Saaz hops soar over the flavors mid-way on and carry through to the finish, cutting through the malts and ending dry. There's a subtle floral quality floating throughout the spectrum too. Body is medium, and, surprisingly, not as carbonated as I'd expect for a pils style.

This is my first imperial pilsner, so I have nothing to compare it to; however, imagining what one would taste like, this fits that idea but in an understated way. I'm so used to imperial styles being so aggressive, and this manages to dance lightly on my tongue yet show there is depth of flavor. I think it's awesome Boulevard collaborated with Orval on this, I just wish they would have done something a bit more interesting along the line of Orval's signature beer and a unique American style.

Photo of hwwty4
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a corked and caged 750ml into my Dogfish Head snifter. The beer pours a clean, translucent metallic straw with a massive 4 inch, fluffy white head that leaves soap like lacing down the sides of the glass. This is one of the prettier beers that Boulevard makes. The aroma hits up front with biscuits and toast from the pilsner malts lingering into green apple skins and a bit of grassy hops. The aroma is rather subtle. I wish it was a bit more full frontal. The flavor is very reminiscent of the nose. Leading off with yeasty biscuits from the pilsner malts. There is a slight hint of ripe green apples and citrusy lemon zest all tied together with medicinal hops. The mouthfeel inst as dry as I expected it. I wish it finished drier but that's really a small complaint. This would be a wonderful beer on a sunny day, sitting outside reading a book. While I understand its supposed to be a simple beer based on a simple recipe, I wish it was just a bit, well, bigger. I love its simplicity but I think that it could be just a little more flavorful. I would really like to see what this beer would do with just a little bit of Brett for the bottle condition.

Photo of screename
3.15/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: I loved the appearance of this beer it had a yellow murky tint. Very eye pleasing.

S: The aroma was fantastic Similar to sour dough bread. not overwhelming.

T: This is where i became disappointed, the beer was crisp, fruitful and refreshing for the first few seconds. Until you swallow, then the after taste overwhelms the pallet. It has some Metallic flavor similar to copper or silver, and a tartness that can only be compared to chewing a piece of lemon peel. this ruined the entire preceding experience. After about half a glass you become used to the flavor a bit more but the tartness and metallic flavor still lingers long after the sip is gone. However i will say that for as potent of a beer as it is, Collaboration #1 was surprisingly smooth.

I love both Orval and Boulevard and I would have to say that this is my least favorite effort on both of their parts.

Photo of bort11
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml corked bottle, poured into a pilsner glass. Tight bubble formation in the head, which pushes just over two inches. This is one to pour in moderate pulls. Color is a bright straw yellow with a mild haze. Perfect amount of carbonation for a pilsner, which means tons.

Smell is a dry biscuit from the pilsner malt, with some green alfalfa from the Saaz hops. Taste has a lot more green grass character. Malts remain crisp and dry, with a interesting hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel is crisp, but it definitely has body. It finishes with a mildly tart after taste. The finish is actually not as dry as what I was expecting. For an 8%, it is very clean and refreshing. This is no sissy lager by any means. Solid beer all the way through.

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Collaboration No. 1 - Imperial Pilsner from Boulevard Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 190 ratings.