This week I had the amazing opportunity to shoot for two days behind the scenes at the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, Missouri. Thank you to Payton Kelly and the entire staff for your incredible graciousness and support. The Boulevard Brewery has been at the top of my Foodie Project/photo shoot list since I moved to Kansas City 19 months ago and I am so glad that I finally made it in to photograph this incredible facility and organization. Founded in 1989 by John Mc Donald, Boulevard Brewery produces six year round beers, five seasonal beers and their "Smokestack" series of four high end artisan beers. A week or so before I started shooting images in the brewery I invited a close friend to take the brewery tour with me. Seated in the beautiful tasting room/gift shop we sampled a wide range of beers. Our stand-out favorite was the "Single Wide" IPA, a beautiful India Pale Ale - crisp and dry with aggressive hops. The IPA is a great beer, but inevitably it is the Bully Porter that I buy each week from the grocery store. The Bully Porter is full bodied, with strong hops and a roasted/chocolate finish. I love to use this porter in my rich beef stew. I brown the beef, saute the onion and garlic then deglaze the pan with the porter and reduce the beer down before adding in the stock and vegetables. This adds a depth to the stew and more importantly provides an excuse to open a second beer to drink while cooking. We also enjoyed the unfiltered Wheat Beer, but were both a touch confused by the popularity of the Lunar Ale - an unfiltered brown ale with extremely powerful anise and clove notes. The Brewery gives free tours Wednesdays through Saturdays. The tours seem to fill up fast, so I would suggest planning and scheduling in advance.
Beyond the great beer that they produce, the Boulevard Brewery organization is a true model of successfully balancing on the fine line between modern technology and old-world artisan traditions. The new brew house is a beautiful, cutting edge, "green", architectural gem who's high tech brewery fuses with the care and craft of skilled brew masters to create truly exceptional beers. I find it truly amazing when I happen upon people/organizations that I see as visionaries - as this is one of the only applicable terms to use for a collection of individuals such as those at Boulevard Brewery who set out to craft an exception food/beverage product, build an environmentally friendly and beautiful facility to produce it and then treat both their employees and their customers with great care and friendship. In today's economy with concerns around cost, cleanliness, competitors, etc, it would be far easier to hide production away in dark and security protected factories. Instead the visionaries at Boulevard Brewery chose light, open, friendly, clean and green facilities.
From my very first contact with the staff at the brewery, I was greeted with a huge amount of support and enthusiasm for the foodie project. I could not be happier with the images I able to shoot and with the entire experience at the brewery. More images from the Boulavard Brewery are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanceduffin Thanks again to everyone at Boulevard Brewery. CHEERS!