I Hate Camping: Boulevard Pop-Up Session IPA

Growing up, my best friend’s family spent weekends at their camp on Lake Ontario outside of Pulaski. Their parents graduated from a pop-up to a towed camper (travel trailers, as they are apparently called) that would house the four of them each weekend and for a couple of weeks each summer. I remember going up there a couple of times as a kid. It seemed mostly like an opportunity for the adults in our neighborhood group to congregate away from the confines of our subdivision and get boozy, but it was sold to the the kids as, “Hey there’s a beach.”

There’s a word in the Syracuse Northside Italian dialect that loosely translates to “Too dirty to enjoy; repulsed; disgusted by.” It’s called “skeeved,” and my mother skeeved the outdoors. She skeeved any structure without running water, flush toilets, or permanent furniture. Scott’s family seemed to enjoy it, or at the very least enjoyed being away from the neighborhood and work. My mother seemed to cast a pall on it for the rest of us. I remember our family staying overnight there once, and us beating feet when the sun rose so that we could go home and shower with Brill-O pads in order to remove the shadow of skeeve.


As an adult, my attitudes towards camping — tent or otherwise — haven’t changed. One of my oldest friends is, as we speak, deep in the wilderness of Northwest Quebec at her family’s camp. In the past I may have mentioned that my idea of camping is a Fairfield Inn by Marriott, she may have looked at me as if I just punched both of her children in the face. I think the skeeve factor has been passed down. I hope The Kid doesn’t have her heart set on us going camping.

I thought of all this while looking at the camper on the can of Boulevard Pop-Up IPA, the session beer made by the Kansas City-based, Belgian-owned craft brewery. One of the nation’s most highly-regarded brewers, Boulevard makes a first-rate IPA (The Calling) and an exceptional saison (Tank 7). Pop-Up reminded me of my camping experience: disappointing. I wanted so much more from this beer, namely for it to be more than just average. In reality, its mired in mediocrity.

It pours brassy and crystal clear and gives off the scent of tropical fruit. Beyond that, it’s a watery, flavorless beer that washes off the palate without much memorability. It’s better than Samuel Adams Rebel Rider IPA, but falls well short of joining the upper tier of session beers.


Brewer: Boulevard Brewing Company
Beer: Pop-Up Session IPA
Style: IPA
ABV: 4.3%   IBU: 40.5
Container: 12 oz. can
Price: $11.99 (purchased as a six-pack)   Point of Purchase: Syosset Beverage, Syosset, N.Y.
To The Eye: Golden to amber with a medium head that fades.
To The Nose: Big tropical nose of mango and papaya. It smells like a complex IPA.
To The Palate: Flat on flavor. Opens up with a faint fruit flavor and has some resin notes. Light on body. Forgettable. 
Aftertaste: Faintly resinous.
Boozy Factor: Session beer.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 6.5

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