Chocolate Ale, the limited-edition Boulevard beer that sold out almost immediately after it was first released last February, is back in Kansas City starting on Tuesday, January 31.
Boulevard marketing manager Julie Weeks says that though distribution begins in Kansas City on that day, some bars and liquor stores might not get their delivery until the first few days of February. The beer has already been distributed in some other cities, such as Wichita.
The chocolate-flavored beer, a collaboration with Kansas City chocolate (and ice cream!) chef Christopher Elbow, inspired a craze when it was released the week before Valentine’s Day in 2011. Beer geeks drove to multiple liquor stores, stalked Boulevard delivery trucks, and in some cases even paid up to $100 on eBay in an effort to taste the beer, which gets its rich flavor from cocoa nibs.
“It was a great idea that we completely underestimated,” says Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels.
Pauwels says that Boulevard has more than doubled production of Chocolate Ale this time around. And they’re distributing a larger percentage of the beer in Kansas City, where thirst for the beer is the strongest. Pauwels also worked with Elbow to tweak the recipe slightly: The duo added a little more cocoa to the bottled version to amp up the chocolate flavor.
Though there’s more Chocolate Ale to go around this year, there’s a good chance it’ll sell out — fast. Want to maximize your chances of scoring some? Sip on this list of Chocolate Ale tips.
Do: Chat up the people who work at your favorite bar or liquor store, suggests local beer lover Matt Wiggins, who scored several bottles of Chocolate Ale last year. “Go in today,” Wiggins suggests. “Say ‘Hey, I hear Chocolate Ale is coming out in a couple weeks. Will you get any?’ I get a better response face-to-face, when I’m already buying something.”
Do: Use Facebook and Twitter to connect to connect to local liquor stores and bars. Wiggins says some businesses (such as Royal Liquors in Kansas City) share insider info about beer deliveries online.
Do: Follow local beer blogs (and their comments sections) for tips on Chocolate Ale sightings. Wiggins likes KC Beer Blog. He also recommends Show-Me-Beer, Fatcat Kansas City and Beer KC, the website for the company that owns McCoy’s Public House, The Foundry and Beer Kitchen in Westport.
Don’t: Call Boulevard or go there looking for Chocolate Ale. Same goes for Christopher Elbow’s shops, Christopher Elbow Chocolates and Glace Artisan Ice Cream. They can’t sell Chocolate Ale at any of those places, so it’d just be a waste of time.
Don’t: Stalk Boulevard delivery trucks and the people who drive them. There’s no guarantee the truck has Chocolate Ale. Plus, it’s creepy.
Don’t: Elbow out other Chocolate Ale fans to snatch up a hundred bottles and then sell them for a profit, Wiggins says. He snagged eight bottles last year, but ended up sharing them with friends.
Don’t: Pay more than $8-12 for a bottle of Chocolate Ale. Last year, some liquor stores sold the beer for as much as $25 a bottle, which is almost three times the $8.99 suggested retail price. After all, it’s just beer.
For news on Kansas City food (and beer) follow Ink reporter Sarah Gish on Twitter @sarah_gish.