Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Single Wide I.P.A.

Boulevard Brewing Co
Kansas City, MO

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 5.7%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Let’s talk mobile homes …

I have a few questions about those who, um … occupy “compact homes on wheels.” First of all, if they are in fact “mobile,” why do I never see them move? It strikes me that they’re just broken-down, dilapidated dwellings that are called “mobile” homes only because the bank could foreclose on them at any moment, thus “moving” their occupancy to the next low-income sucker. I guarantee you that when George Jefferson was “movin’ on up,” he wasn’t doing it in a mobile home.

Also, how does a dwelling inspire a culture? Sure, mansions are associated with the wealthy, but they buy them AFTER achieving a social and financial status. They’ve already developed the culture … the home simply followed. But with trailer park folks (I prefer “Parkies,” a term from one of my favorite movies of all time, Snatch), the residency transforms the occupant, turning your average Joe into a below-average Cletus. Parkies seem to congregate in certain places, namely Wal-Marts, Taco Bells, Salvation Army stores, and courtrooms. To a Parkie, a fancy meal means breakfast at Cracker Barrel or dinner at the fine Italian establishment known as Olive Garden (Breadsticks? Is that really what we go to a restaurant for?). A fine juice for a Parkie is Sunny D, a fine beer is Bud Light, and a fine milk likely one that’s past its expiration date. Oh, and has anyone outside of Wisconsin heard of government cheese? If not, I have stories …

I’ve known a few Parkies in my day and I feel bad criticizing. They’ve been good people, and I’ve gotten along well with them. However, there’s a perception gap. For instance, not long ago I had someone who lived in trailer park in a rural area near Milwaukee metro tell me that I lived in the “ghetto,” because everything “down there” is ghetto. I lived in the vibrant downtown of a city of 600,000 people, literally within walking distance of arenas, theaters, nightclubs, parks, upscale restaurants, etc., but to them, I lived in the “ghetto.” Unfortunately, there’s some pretty nasty ghetto in the city. However, it’s limited to certain areas and doesn’t define Milwaukee … and, it’s DEFINITELY not downtown. That’s like someone from New Jersey calling Manhattan ghetto. Parkie perception and reality didn’t exactly coincide.

So while we continue to ponder the Parkie lifestyle, I’ll get to my latest review, for Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Single Wide IPA. In Parkie culture, a “single wide” is like a studio apartment, while a “double wide” is like a one bedroom apartment WITH a washer and dryer. Fancy. For Boulevard, Single Wide is their standard, year-round American IPA, while Double Wide is their powerful, special-edition imperial IPA. As a brewery located in Kansas City, there’s clearly some Tornado Alley irony behind the title, and Nigel is all for clever, ironic titles.

Boulevard makes it known that this is a bottle conditioned brew. I’ve never seen a “warning” printed on the label like this, but no worries … bottle conditioning is highly acceptable for craft brews.

Because of that bottle conditioning, Single Wide pours vigorously, with a massive pillowy white head that slowly dissipates, leaving a frothy lace at the top throughout and plenty of sticky trace on the side of the glass. A beautiful, translucent golden brown, hints of sediment dance along with the carbonation, making Single Wide one luxurious looking trailer.

The aroma is pleasant, but a tad bit non-descript for an IPA; in other words, it smells like any ol’ IPA. On the milder end of the style in terms of aroma, the noticeable hint of Northwest hops comes through at the outset, giving it the light scent of evergreen and citrus. The citrus begins to take over, and is quickly joined by light caramel malt and a general earthy tone. I’m sensing just a touch of staleness, but all in all it’s a decent aroma, just nothing overly strong or special.

The flavor is solid, but again, not overwhelming. This isn’t a hop monster, nor should it be … Double Wide takes care of that. Single Wide is well balanced between zesty, bitter Northwest hops and more subtle, earthy malt. Initial flavors are citrus (orange zest, grapefruit, and a touch of green apple), followed by a tinge of pine. As the beer warms, the grainier, sugary malt takes over, mainly in the form of caramel, light brown sugar, and toasted barley and wheat. The addition of wheat malt likely adds to the lighter, effervescent flavor, and the use of six hop varieties (Magnum, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, Bravo, & Palisade) likely explains the somewhat generic hop flavor. Heavily carbonated, Single Wide bites the tongue with every sip, but overall is light- to medium-bodied and relatively smooth on the palate. Checking in at 5.7 percent ABV, it’s a prime candidate for a session beer, and a good IPA option for the non-hophead.

Ultimately, I have to give Single Wide IPA an average three mugs. It’s not bad, but it does very little to stand out above a very crowded field in the American IPA category. There’s a bit too much graininess and not enough of the hop profile I’ve come to know and love from fine American craft IPAs. Give it a shot should you see it, but if you’re looking for a true hop monster, as well as a taste of high Parkie society, stick with the Double Wide.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on January 28, 2010.
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