Good Beer Hunting

Boulevard Offering Refunds for Infected Stout

Boulevard Brewing Co. is offering refunds to customers that purchased its 2016 Barrel-Aged Thrillogy Pack after determining the 750 ml bottles of Imperial Stout included therein had become infected with lactobacillus, imparting it with unintentional tart notes. 

“We strive every day to make superior beers, and are disappointed that this batch of Imperial Stout did not live up to our expectations, or to yours,” the company said in a statement. “We promise to learn from this situation, and to redouble our efforts to make only the finest ales and lagers that you’ve come to expect from Boulevard Brewing Company.” The two other beers in the sample pack, Bourbon Barrel Quad and Rye-on-Rye, were not affected, the company said. 

Shit happens, and on a singular level, this can obviously be summed up as said shit happening. And the company is doing the right thing by owning the mistake and working transparently to rectify it, not only by tracing the source of contamination within its walls, but communicating those efforts clearly to customers. Per the company statement: 

“We are currently conducting extensive research to pinpoint the precise source of the problem, and taking immediate steps to try to ensure that it does not happen again. We can state with confidence that no other Boulevard beers in the marketplace, including 12-ounce bottles of 2016 Imperial Stout, have been compromised.”

We’ve already pointed out, more than once by now out of necessity, these types of recalls and refunds seem to be increasing in volume of late. Not just from small companies either. Goose Island, Left Hand, and Revolution, all some of the biggest players in craft, have dealt with these issues in the last year alone. But it would be tough to say with any certainty whether a) brewers are actually dealing with more QC issues these days, b) if it only seems that way because consumers care more now than ever, or c) if it’s a combination of those first two.

That third option seems extremely plausible, especially since it’s also evident that brewers are expanding their sour programs en masse, which typically rely on the types of bacteria that cause these infections. To that end, the desire to avoid these contaminations is also driving breweries to open secondary facilities meant to house production of all beer that uses these risky ingredients.

Preventative measures are great. But, again, under the Shit Happens Axiom, these unfortunate instances are inevitable to a certain extent. So if nothing else, these derailments are allowing for industry leaders to delineate the roadmap to navigating these problems when they do arise. And that roadmap is only becoming clearer and clearer.

—Dave Eisenberg
2016 Imperial Stout Announcement [Boulevard]