I’m very particular when it comes to an IPA. I have a lot that I really hate and a very select few that I absolutely love; and then there’s the middle ground. The middle ground is usually where I place beers I’ve had and said “ehh this is pretty good” while drinking. Boulevard’s Single Wide, a traditional style American IPA brewed with six different hops, can be a bit heavy on the stomach and could never be considered a session beer by any means. The Pop Up, on the other hand, is a perfect session IPA, but a not a perfect traditional IPA. If you’re not familiar with what the term “session” means, it is used to label a beer that could be consumed in multiples at one sitting or “session.” I’m glad that Boulevard took on something like this, and I was more than pleased with the results:
First off, the beer pours a hazy straw color with some visible carbonation that rose quickly to the top of the glass. This is one of the flaws for me, as I hate a lot of carbonation on a beer. It just masks the flavor and ruins the whole mouthfeel for me. Once it was all poured, there were about three finger widths of foamy off-white head that slows dissipates and leaves some serious lacing elements on the glass. The scent was strong with citrus aromas, mainly orange and grapefruit with some lighter, malty aromas with some hints of floral hops thrown in. I feel like I also picked up on some lemon, but it could just be a mix of the orange and grapefruit. The aroma is West Coast all day, and in my own experience, I have found that the West Coast style IPAs are usually more sessionable than a regular American IPA. I’ve also found myself reaching more towards more West Coast styles lately since the weather has been similar to a level of Hell; really makes the heat a little more bearable.
Upfront, you pick up a lot of malt with some light hints of grain. As the beer settles on your tongue for a moment, you can begin to pick apart the flavors of the grapefruit and orange peel with some added honey notes as well. The honey bit was something I wasn’t expecting, but I really enjoyed it. It seemed to add a bit of smoothness to the beer that took away a bit of the harsh carbonation that I loathe so deeply. As it finishes, you start to pick up the floral hops and then a light amount of bitterness in the finish, which does fade quickly. Overall, the taste mirrors the nose, but not exactly, and I like that. I enjoy a slight surprise when I take the first sip after smelling and assuming what it’s going to taste like. Although there are all of these high points, this is where the beer started to lose me. I’m so accustomed to how fantastically Boulevard executes any of their IPA style beers, that this one just didn’t really reach the bar for me. It seemed like a lighter version of the Single Wide with a little more citrus added and the carbonation bumped up to make it “thirst quenching” which is a term I hate. I have never drunk a beer because I am thirsty. That makes no sense to me, but that’s beside the point.
As I stated before, the mouthfeel was overpowered by extreme carbonation, which in turn, made the beer somewhat unsatisfying to me. I wish it could have been bumped down a little to let the flavors shine through more. There was a bit of bitterness that settles on the tongue and leaves a nice hoppy aftertaste. Not really astringent, but more so just the flavor of a nice beer. Other than that, the flavors work nicely together and really meld on the tongue well. I think that honey is what did it for me though on the flavor and mouthfeel. It was really a nice addition that worked for the best in my opinion.
Overall, this was a nice take on the session IPA, but not something that I’m going to choose first. If I saw this in the cooler at party, I would drink my fair share, but am I going to run to the store to pick it up—probably not. I still have my favorite session IPAs over this one and I don’t think those spots are in any danger of losing their positions. Boulevard makes great beers, and this one is good, just not the best I’ve ever had. Still worth the try though.

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