Boulevard Irish Ale

Carondelet Grill, 8000 Carondelet Avenue, Clayton; 314-721-7001

Mar 16, 2005 at 4:00 am
Among the esquires, judges, paralegals and ambulance-chasers, we eat big-ass burgers and drink an Irish ale at lunchtime. It is a weekday in Clayton, and we're across from the county courts. Here, black shoes trump all others by dozens to one; suits are dark, ties are like nooses, and briefcases are like balls and chains. We are having a "business lunch." Our meal: a half-pound of flesh, some fries and an Irish ale, in honor of St. Patrick, patron fellow of, er, serpent-banishment.

Some people say lawyers are snakes. Others say it's the Irish, or the Germans, or the Tago-Tagoites, or the Midwestern Americans. Bankers? Evil. Politicians? Serpents. Journalists? The worst of the bunch. But we beg to differ. There are no inherently evil professions or ethnicities, only inherently afraid and lonely humans. So leave the lawyers and Tago-Tagoites alone. They're no better or worse than fashion photographers, drink columnists or Moldavians.

Most of the county's lawyers seem to be at the Carondelet Grill this afternoon. They're not hurting anyone. It's lunchtime. The Grill's a utilitarian joint with flat screens tuned to ESPN. There are photos of golfers on the walls, chalkboard-scribbled specials and a dozen-odd shamrocks dangling by the bar. The room isn't special, but it's comfortable. On St. Pat's Day, Budweiser's having a party here, and (stop the presses!) the Carondelet is making corned beef and cabbage.

It's the tail-end of mealtime, maybe 1:45, but the place is hopping. Many delicious burgers are being chomped, but it seems the drink of choice among the wealthy is Diet Coke or iced tea. Somewhere along the line, a lunchtime beer turned into a no-no. It used to be a yes-definitely, but in the past couple decades the hobby has fallen out of favor. Pity, because after a hard morning of grilling witnesses, reducing grown men to tears and bending truths, there's nothing like an ale to loosen the jowls and jiggle the brain.

The Boulevard folks make their Irish ale in Kansas City, and bully for them. We're impressed; we didn't think they had it in them -- to successfully combine ingredients to make such a nice beer over on the lesser side of the state, where the women are a little uglier, the men a lot fatter and the barbecue overrated. To think: Kansas City, home of the losers who ran out of money and/or courage on their way to California, actually does something right! Nice work.

We kid. Kansas Citians are no worse than Collinsvillians. We kid because we love our little brother to the west. And we love this red ale, one of the brand's seasonals. Boulevard offers it on draught or in bottles; Carondelet serves the latter, which arrives with a hint of caramel and some fruitiness, and bids farewell with a touch of roasted hop. In the mouth, Boulevard's Irish has a healthy but not overwhelming carbonation and hits the back of the throat with nary an insult. In layman's terms, it's smooth and clean, and we like it very much at lunch with counsel in Clayton.