The eleventh annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival will take place next month in Vail, Colorado. This year Boulevard Brewing Co.'s Steven Pauwels will be one of the two "Featured Brewmasters" at the event. Steven was kind enough to take some time and answer a few questions about the event.
Dave - I know last year you were part of a presentation, "Brewers Gone Wild!" Was that the first year you attended the festival?
Steven - Yes, last year was the first year I attended and participated in this festival. I was lucky to get invited for ‘Brewers gone Wild’ and for the food pairing challenge which we won. The challenge was to come up with the best pairing for crème brulee ice-cream. We paired it with Bourbon Barrel Quad.
D - Boulevard was also one of the breweries that unveiled a new product last year. What was it?
S - We brought a test batch of ‘Dubbel’: a Belgian Dubbel. This is a beer we have been working on for a while and that might make it to the market at one point. We brewed it for the 10th Anniversary of the festival. I also had a great conversation with Lodewijk Swinkels from La Trappe. We both agreed that a Dubbel is a very difficult beer to brew. That’s probably why it has been taking us several trials.
D - Any new beers you will be releasing this year at the festival?
S - No new beers this time but we will have the latest version of the ‘Dubbel’ because people really enjoyed it last year. We have been very busy lately with the Amber Ale release, 21st Anniversary, four Smokestack beers in 12 oz bottles and are working on a Chocolate Ale with Christopher Elbow and other projects.
D - What will Boulevard be pouring at the festival?
S - We will have a long list because of the ‘featured brewmaster’. There will be on draft Tank 7, Dark Truth Stout (exclusive, normally not available on draft), Dubbel, Double Wide IPA (this also is exclusive, we normally don’t keg this) and Harvest Dance Wheat Wine. In 750ml bottles: Two Jokers Double Wit, Long Strange Tripel, 6th Glass and BBQ.
D - Any particular breweries you look forward to seeing and tasting what they will be pouring?
S - There are a lot of great breweries out there. I hope to have the time to visit all of them and taste their beers.
D - What is different about this festival in comparison to the GABF?
S - This festival is a lot more laid back and very different than GABF. It has a good mix of education and tasting. There are a number of presentations/workshops with a lot of valuable information. There also are two Brewmaster dinners: one on Thursday with Sam Calagione and Adam Avery and the one on Friday where I had the opportunity to pick my ‘Belgian’ counterpart. (I picked Chris Bauweraerts from Achouffe who I've known for 20-some years). Of course there is the setting: a ski resort in Vail in January…
D - Just skimming through the names of brewers attending, it seems a good percentage started up their own breweries. Is this something you would ever want to do?
S - Something I wanted to do… I got older and wiser.
D - What's it like working with the brewers that are more public with their images?
S - They all are great people. Even though we are in the Midwest and sometimes are forgotten, we receive respect from all our peers and colleagues including from the brewers with the more public image. It is sometimes awkward to have a regular chat with these guys while other people get ‘star struck’.
D - When are you going to make a TV show?
S - I appreciate the question but I don’t think a TV show is for me. I am not a good actor.
A big thanks to Steven for giving us some of his time. We appreciate the informative and entertaining answers.