Today comes news that Boulevard Beer of Kansas City has been purchased by a Belgian brewer: Duvel Moorgat. As first glance, the reaction is one of: disappointment; horror; Oh My God The Damn Foreigners Are Buying Up Our Precious Boulevard.
All those reactions are understandable, seeing as how Boulevard customers don’t think of Boulevard as a company that makes beer: they feel that they have a stake in the success of the brewery. The relationship between Boulevard and Kansas City beer drinkers has been a sweet marriage. One day, rising from the ashes, comes this company that speaks to me. To my sensibilities as a beer drinker. To my sensibilities of community. To my sensibilities of: “Holy shit. Kansas City has something that is really cool. And it’s ours!”
John McDonald gave us all a gift. He gave us another notch in our belts of why Kansas City is one of the greatest unknown treasures in our country. He made us all feel invested in a small way, and created one of the great success stories in American brewing history. And today, why does this news feel like it’s being taken away?
Because we love Boulevard. We own it, in our own emotional way. And it’s ours. And in Kansas City, we defend what is ours. We guard it and cherish it because we know we have something special in this community. Not only in beer, but the feeling it creates when you sit with your buddies on the deck listening to the Royals game drinking a Pale Ale.
Today is an interesting day in Kansas City, and we are scared of what the future of Boulevard brings. There will still be Boulevard to drink, and there will still be jobs at the Boulevard Brewery. Heck, there will probably end up being more. But if you’re John McDonald, and you make a decision like this, you don’t make it because you are trying to sell your soul. You make it because you want Boulevard to live on in this city, and keep providing jobs for his family and friends in that building.
We may find, after all, that this sale is another gift from John McDonald to Kansas City, much like another community leader who gave the city a great gift many years ago.