Americans have been known to participate in some interesting fads.
The good citizens of Kansas City are no less immune to a goofy fad than Americans in general. This is a tale of one such fad.
Kansas City happens to be home to the Boulevard Brewing Company. Probably their best known beer is their Pale Ale.
They sell quite a selection to cover your yang for beer. But Kansas City is not only known for barbecue and beer. Happily we can add gourmet chocolate to the list of good things to come out of Kansas City, thanks to Christopher Elbow.
I get way more excited about chocolate than I do beer plus the boss doesn't care if you go out at lunch and throw down a couple of chocolates. Hell, my boss asks me to bring some back for her.
I don't know who originally came up with the idea but back in 2010 Boulevard Brewing decided they needed a Valentine's beer to add to their speciality/seasonal roster. Why not make a chocolate beer? Better yet, team up with man known for chocolate in Kansas City, and make a Christopher Elbow chocolate beer. So they made a batch, put out the word in early January 2011 and Boulevard Christopher Elbow Chocolate Pale Ale sold out fairly quickly. Not only sold out quickly but apparently made an appearance on Ebay at a price way over it's original selling price. Local beer lovers took notice. Chocolate lovers took notice. Opportunists took notice. 2012 rolls around and Boulevard announces that yes, Chocolate Ale will return for the Valentine's holiday. However the marketing campaign for the beer went into overdrive. The brewmasters were giving television interviews. Christopher Elbow was everywhere pushing the beer, newspapers, magazines and radio. January was an onslaught of Chocolate Ale hype. When the beer finally reached the stores, the lines were deep and the people were waiting to buy as much as they could.
I think it sold out locally the same day it was released despite the brewery making three times as much as the year before. I didn't notice until I saw the signs up on just about every grocery store I frequent saying they were out of Chocolate Ale and wouldn't be getting any until 2013. Really? None to be had in the city? Yes, pretty much that was the scenario. I wondered if I could get a bottle from an online distributor? Certainly the KC madness couldn't reach into other areas? So I found a online beer seller and ordered a bottle. Or I should say that I thought I ordered a bottle. They took the info, my credit card number and shipping address. Actually the shipping was more expensive than the one bottle of beer. So I waited. It wasn't until later into the next week when I realized that I hadn't received a shipping notice or tracking number. The reply to my email inquiry as to when I would receive the beer I ordered made me realize that the stupidity had indeed reached even further out of Kansas City. The online beer seller was saying that when I had made my order that they actually didn't have any in stock. That I had neglected the big red warning that said just that. Of course I immediately called Shenanigans because had there been a big red warning (as there was now on their website) I wouldn't have ordered it. I would have kept on googling for a beer seller that actually had it in stock. Beer seller did not like my logic or the fact that I cancelled my order. I thought that was the end of the Boulevard Beer debacle but there was one more chapter waiting to be uncorked.
Turns out at least a third of the batch Boulevard sold had some "unwanted flavors". WHAT?? Punky chocolate ale? That's right and they would buy back that funky beer (after jumping through some hoops). This was just too rich. Even better? The online Beer Seller emailed me again claiming to have gone out and purchased more chocolate ale from other liquor stores in their area to keep up with demand for the beer. He also felt the need to add that his other customers were very happy with their service. This made me chuckle heartily. Whenever someone feels the need to say how well they are doing something it almost always means ass covering is in full effect. I couldn't resist one last email poke. "This beer you purchased, was it the beer that Boulevard is recalling for being nasty?" I can only assume that Beer Seller is just too busy accepting accolades from his many happy customers because my email in-box has been empty, waiting for his response.
So there you have it, a little February mania over beer and a little peek into life in Kansas City.