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Boulevard BrewingIn addition to their regular lineup, the Boulevard Brewing Company releases special brews as part of their Smokestack Series. These are generally more complex, higher ABV examples than their normal offerings, and allow the brewers to experiment with historical and less common beer styles. Harvest Dance is a wheat wine, akin to the perhaps more familiar barley wine style. The Saint Arnold brewery here in Houston has made several barley wines as part of their Divine Reserve series, most recently DR10, which they called an English Barleywine, nodding to its origins. Barley wines get their name because, in addition to having certain other vinous characteristics, the alcohol content is generally up near that of wine, anywhere from 8 to 12%. This high ABV, like that of certain imperial stouts, makes it excellent for aging and also for warming the bones during the cold winter months.

English barley wines tend to be rounder, tamer beasts, while American versions are typically punched up in one or more ways, such as higher ABV or increased hop bitterness. Wheat wines, while built on a majority wheat malt backbone, which gives them a softer, lighter body, get a similar treatment by American brewers like Boulevard. Harvest Dance uses Hallertau and the relatively new Citra hop varietal, which is most often used in IPA’s, so there is a mild hop bitterness but round, well-balanced fruit flavors, along with lemony, almost Hefeweizen-like notes and golden color from the wheat. The beer poured a big, fluffy head that left lots of lacing on the glass, and while it’s a strong 9.1%, the alcohol in Harvest Dance is warm but better balanced than in the style’s barley wine cousins.

As the name implies, Harvest Dance is a late-season, autumnal release, but is certainly meant to be enjoyed over the cold winter months, and is still readily available in most purveyors’ coolers. If you find the winter stouts too heavy and the strong barley wines a bit too hot, a balanced wheat wine might be a good bet.


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