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

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

Brewed by:
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Missouri, United States

Style: American Imperial Pilsner

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by bort11 on 01-14-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 192 |  Reviews: 152
Reviews by sjccmd:
Photo of sjccmd
4.5/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours super clear golden yellow with a thick frothy white head that fades quickly initially but slows down as it recedes to about a centimeter. Lacing is pretty sticky for the style, gliding slowly down the glass. Carbonation continues to bubble up from the bottom throughout.

The aroma contains a surprising amount of citrus. Lemon zest and a hint of grapefruit rounded off with biscuity malts. Extremely effervescent. The aroma really explodes out of the glass.

The taste is in agreement with the aroma. Lemony citrus and slightly sweet malt flavor, kind of like honey. Very smooth and mild bitterness. Very distinctive Boulevard yeast profile. The recipe seems to be extremely simple, but the traditional process with the unique yeast produces something much more unique than most pilsners I've had.

The mouthfeel is super crisp, but not fizzy. Very refreshing and super dry with lingering citrus flavors. Coats the tongue but is not at all cloying.

Very drinkable and refreshing, the alcohol provides just a hint of warmth.

I initially was a little disappointed about the style choice for this collaboration, but this is such a refreshing and complex pilsner. It really seems like a perfect marriage of flavors between the two brewers.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of brownbeer
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #38 (Mar 2010):

Very pale golden yellow, true and clear with a decent lacing to boot. Aromas of candied sugar, faint honey, dried grass, fresh taffy, wildflowers, chalky yeast. Crisp and popping with a deep smoothness; lighter body than expected but still fluffy from the carbonation. Nutty, biscuity flavor takes hold and does not want to let go. Hop bitterness comes in aggressive but leaves room for everything else. Hint of bitter orange, wildflowers and sage. Clean warming alcohol is pleasant. Lots of dried grass on the palate.

Delicate, intricate ... let it warm up to dissect it. Yes, get that lager up to cellar temp and sip away. Delicious.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.18/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle. Pours a clear fizzy light yellow gold with a big meringue-like white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is soft - some musty yeast, a little fruit and metallic hops. As it warms, some sweet honey and floral hops come out that are much more appealing.

The flavor is sweet, slightly vegetal, malts with a dry musty finish that has some metallic noble hops. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with smooth carbonation.

Overall, pretty simple and restrained for an 8% beer. I didn't really care for all the parts individually of the beer, but overall it was nice. A bit too expensive for a repeat buy at that level though at $13.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy straw color with a white head. The aroma is fairly faint, with some bready/biscuit malt, honey and light grassy hops. The flavor is better than the aroma, with honey, pilsner malt and some flower, grassy hops. Low carbonation and medium mouthfeel.

This is not near as hoppy as some of the imperial pilsners I have tried. This one retains the balance that I love in a classic pilsner while still being amped up a notch to the imperial level. A very good beer.

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Photo of marchnlv
5/5  rDev +21.7%

Photo of kingcrowing
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750ml corked & caged bottle poured into a chalce.

Pours a very clear and golden yellow with a very white small head. Nose. Light and slightly hoppy with light booze.

Taste is slightly boozy but not too bad. Very crisp, dry and sharp with some real crisp and sulfur tastes. It's really good and drinkable. And an awesome beer from boulevard!

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Photo of glid02
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Pours a hazy lemon-yellow color with a one-finger bright white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of crisp pilsner malts with good amounts of lemon peel and light floral hops. Also present are good amounts of grassiness.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Light pilsner malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by good amounts of lemon rind and light grapefruit flavors. Midway through the sip the flavor profile deepens a bit with the addition of grassy and slightly earthy hops. The earthy flavors carry through to a crisp and mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I was impressed with this beer, as I have been with almost all of the Smokestack series. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of turamarth
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
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 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.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.41/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of CanuckRover
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to rudge75 at Half Pints for this.

Pours a pale yellow with a snow-white head.

Grain on the nose. Expecting alcohol, but you really just get classic pilsner.

A very surprising beer. A really well rounded pilsner. More full bodied than you'd get in a normal pils, a wider range of flavour to the malt. Hopping isn't quite as grassy as I like in a pils, but the continental flavour is certainly there. Nice crisp finish.

Nice and refreshing. Dangerous for an 8%'er.

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Photo of Snow81
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cloudy yellow that looks like a fresh glass of lemonade

Head: Big white head

Smell: Malty sweet grass

Taste: Floral hops with a clean maltyness and a hint of heat

Weight: Medium to heavy body for an Imperial
Pilsner with a low to medium carbonation

Finish: Clean light floral hops with subtle malts

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Photo of dirtylou
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, brought back from Andy's in Rochester

Batch 1-2009
Best before 9-2010

split and paired with a zesty shrimp scampi

appearance: served in my hopleaf tulip - hazy straw-yellow body, nice beige foamy head with good retention

smell: grassy hops, grainy malts - possibly the first imperial pilsner i have ever had that smells like a pilsners

taste: Interesting brew - most imperial pilsners out there venture into the hop-bomb department, but not this one. Saaz hops evident - grassy, lemon, white pepper. The other half of the collaboration (Orval) adds a nice fresh yeast balance to the hops and grainy malt. Refreshing beer on a muggy summer night

mouthfeel: clean, well carbonated

drinkability: strong

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Photo of WoodBrew
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of Photekut
5/5  rDev +21.7%

Photo of tempest
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Share this corked and caged bottle with a friend. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that this had a very Belgian feel for an imperial pils. It also reminded me of Bouldevard's Saison and Tripel for their mellow vanilla and pepper undertones. Otherwise there's a smooth doughy and cracker malt base and herbal candy yeast character followed by a spicy hop kick that stands up, but never overpowers. Check out this interesting take on the style.

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Photo of dbossman
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A cloudy, sunshine yellow with bubbly and high foaming head; pretty nice lacing

S: Typical grain and straw pilsner aroma but there is also a hint of floral and citrus that pervades through the end of each smell; there is also a slight sourness that is pleasant

T: A crisp and flavorful pilsner; the subtle hops hit the tongue up front and that citrus quality blends well with the malty graininess that coats the tongue on the way through the mouth; on the back end there is a slightly funky sour taste that numbs the roof of the mouth just a bit--this actually enhances the beer positively

F: Good mouth feel-a bit thin at first but it stays in the mouth longer than expected

D: Alcohol is well masked and this beer comes off as a delicous and flavorful pilsner--one of my favorites and definitely the most well made imperial pilsner that I've ever had. Kudos to Boulevard and Orval on this fantastic collaboration.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.03/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out of a 750mL bottle into a pilsner glass. A cloudy, golden color. Lots of bubbles and a thick 3 inch, white head. The tall glass really shows it off well.

S - Smells like hops before they are tossed into the pot. Slightly floral, but not fruity. Fresh and clean.

T - Tiny malt, hops (not as crisp as I think a pilner should be), slight banana taste.

M - Light body and carbonation. Great feeling.

D - Very drinkable. Very simple overall, but done well. From a pilsner I was expecting more of the German/Berliner style, but this is good too.

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Photo of nickd717
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle from The Wine & Cheese Place (bought online).

Excellent bright golden color with a huge, foamy, lasting white head and great lacing.

Pale malt and grain on the aroma, very clean and crisp, with some slight grassy hop character.

Flavor is really nice, with sweet pale malt and grain, along with lots of fresh Noble hops.

Very dry on the palate, like Orval, with lots of hop oils and medium body.

Pretty drinkable with fairly high carbonation, although drinkability suffers a bit from the extreme dryness. Still though, this is about as fine an imperial pilsner as I've ever had.

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Photo of russpowell
4.31/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #1 BBD 9/10
Scored this at Macadoodles in Joplin last week, there weren't many bottles left from what I could see...

Pours an effervescent straw color with 4+ fingers of ivory colored head into my Paulaner Pils glass ( they recommend a a tulip, but this is an imp pils so I'll try it this way first, so maintain my baseline for the style. Stellar head retention & good lacing

S: Grassy & orchard fruitty, but a touch restrained IMO, almost pulled a 4.0

T: Apples, pears, lemony & grassy hops up front, plus serious breadyness & a touch of booze. Dryness, pears & lemony hops dominate as this warms along with more breadyness & grassy hops, along with a hint of honey & grapefruit. Finishes very crisp all things considered, although honey malt & breadyness make a great showing too, along with some herbal notes as well

MF: Fairly delicate for the ABV, slight carbonation, starts to get a bit chewier once warm, but maintains crispness on the finish, great balance

Drinks fairly very for the "style" & ABV, nice collaboration, gutsy call all in all, this is a beer where flaws would scream at you, I see none. Not sure how this will hold up over time, drinking fine now. If this was half the price I could drink this near year round, a nice indulgence, in my mind this is what more more pils need to taste like; forget the double or single labels.... Would love to try this on tap...

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Photo of sorvats
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of BKotch
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of morimech
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Batch 1-2009

Appearance- Slight haze in this pale yellow lager. A large head that easily fills the top 1/3 of the glass. Excellant retention for a pilsner. Rings of lacing is left on the glass.

Smell- I pick up a lot of Saaz hops with their spice. Cracker like malt. And there is a distinct Belgian yeast funkiness.

Taste- Light, dry malt flavor with spicy Noble hops. A faint wisp of the Orval funk. Hop bitterness is low for an Imperial or Double beer and that lowers the score somewhat. Finishes dry and clean. No sign at all of the 8% ABV which is remarkable considering how light flavored this beer ends.

Mouthfeel- Outstanding mouthfeel. Everything you want in a Pils. Light, crisp, nicely carbonated, and dry.

Drinkability- The ABV hurts drinkability but the thing that hurts this being a regular purchase for me is the price. Too expensive and that may prevent me from buying this beer again.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of akorsak
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my long-time trading parter, hwwty4, for this 750 mL corked and caged bottle. Batch 1-2009.

A: The pils looks like, well, a pils. It's delicate golden straw color is pale, hazed over because the bottle just came out of the fridge. A large head, over 2 fingers, didn't yield nearly as much head as I expected. After settling out, only a thin sliver remains.

S: At first the nose is rather ho-hum. Green apples, biscuit and crisp hops eventually emerge. The hops are grassy and herbal, not a big stand out though.

T: The nose was inauspicious. My first sip alleviated any concerns that I had. The hops are herbal, vaguely floral, with plenty of earthy dirt. Green apples are prominent, a nice mix with the pale pils malts. The earthy bitterness is strongest at the back end of each sip, but it isn't the intense hoppiness that I'd expect from a double pils. That's not to say that the beer sucks. It doesn't. I especially like the how the hops aren't so over the top. But it just doesn't seem like a pils squared. The intense yeastiness, the apples that I mentioned, I like also. I just can't give it a 4.0 based on the style. Believe me, I want to though.

M: Ahh, about time a subjective category comes up. The earthy hops and sweet appley yeast are the most enjoyable attributes.

D: I'll drink it all day long, a good beer with a storied tradition behind it. Call it a regular pils and I'm behind you 100%.

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Collaboration No. 1 - Imperial Pilsner from Boulevard Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.11 out of 5 with 192 ratings