STEAMWORKS PUMPKIN ALE—Interesting, maybe even good, certainly not abusive

Over the last month pumpkin beer has had its way with LBHQ—much the way the kids have had their way test-driving Halloween costumes with yours truly.

We’ve had so much Halloween-inspired beer that  last time we went beer shopping our brains shut down and we bought macro beer. The pumpkin beer thing had just started seeming (and tasting) kind of gimmicky.

With the exception of LOST SOULS CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN PORTER, in which pumpkin and its associated spices take a backseat to chocolate and, well, beer, these pumpkin offerings have been a little irresolute about what they’re going for.

STEAMWORKS has already impressed us with its steampunk-inspired bottle and pleasantly hoppy PALE ALE. But how does its PUMPKIN ALE perform?

Chihuahuas…there for the cupcakes.

Dark and opaque with an apt orange tinge, STEAMWORKS PUMPKIN ALE wafts pumpkin pie spices aplenty. For seasoned pumpkin ale drinkers this might be very welcome. For occasional indulgers, it’s a little confusing. And for bears who eschew solids entirely, it’s a whole new experience. I mean, it’s a little random. Where was the turkey-flavored Thanksgiving beer? Are we getting poppy-seed beer this Remembrance Day?

Importantly, the spices in STEAMWORKS PUMPKIN ALE aren’t overwhelming; they’re just a little too interesting perhaps. On the palate they don’t dominate, but the beer does end on an unexpectedly sour note. Not abusive like this:

Just weirdly dessert-like and a little precious. I don’t think any respectable hobo would bother with it, especially at $5.50 for 650 mL.

For those fellow inebriates with moustache concerns, STEAMWORKS PUMPKIN ALE won’t leave a cloying residue on your facial hair/fur. I spilled quite a bit of it on myself and have still managed to escape the washing machine, possibly because I licked it up, which animals do.

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STEAMWORKS PALE ALE—the beer you need in your mouth

My dad is pretty good at not saying the wrong thing. If anything, he errs on the quiet side, and people often wonder what he’s really thinking. Not only is he diplomatic; he’s a good listener (except when you happen to be a bear requesting alcohol). So I sure didn’t expect him to describe the taste of STEAMWORKS PALE ALE (new in bottles!) thusly:

“It’s nice. Kind of a grapefruit note going on with the hops, and it finishes really cleanly. Kind of like a houseguest that cleans up after themself…in my mouth.”

I really like this summation. What it says about my dad I’m not sure, but my mum refused to transcribe it.

Prudishness, you ask?

Well, no. Well, yes. Yes, but in a different way. My mum insists there’s no such word as “themself,” and therefore my dad referred to a houseguest cleaning up after himself…in his [my dad’s] mouth. Which she said she’d happily type.

You have to be careful of these grammar-obsessed people. They are so detail-oriented that they can’t see the forest for the trees. As I warned my mother, they often become alcoholics after years of tearing their hair out over the exact meaning of “threshold,” whether the Oxford comma adds clarity or is just pedantic, and of course the demise, literarily, of the elegantly genderless “one.” As in:

“…like a houseguest who cleans up after oneself…in one’s mouth.”

This would have rescued my dad from some specific lifestyle-related questions that arose after we sampled STEAMWORKS PALE ALE. It would have obviated my mother’s arbitrary correction to “himself,” and it would have saved me from inadvertently summoning some raunchy imagery I hadn’t previously connected with my dad.

But let’s focus on the beer. For years Steamworks pub has been wowing Vancouverites with its line-up of tap beers. Problem is, you could get it only at Steamworks. But after 17 years, the pub is making a bold play for craft-beer market share, bottling its splendid products (at Dead Frog Brewery until the new Steamworks production brewery is built) and shipping them to liquor stores across BC. Ahhhh!

The whole production says money. The bottles are silkscreened with a sweet steampunk design celebrating Vancouver landmarks. Pale ale and Pilsner have already shipped, while Steamworks winds up to launch a series of limited-edition bombers including raspberry, oatmeal stout, pumpkin ale, and wheat ale.

If, like my dad, you’re not sure what you’re tasting, STEAMWORKS PALE ALE provides a tasting key on the bottle:

Malts—Pale, Carapils, Crystal, Caramalt

Hops—Zythos, Cascade

IBUs—35

This puts STEAMWORKS PALE ALE into the bitter category, with a grippy, hoppy, grapefruity edge. With medium mouthfeel and refreshingly punchy carbonation, this delightful elixir packs 5.2% alcohol and lingers satisfyingly on the palate, finishing…er, cleanly.

Beautiful bottle, beautiful copper hue, beautiful taste. Don’t listen to my mum, who’ll just tell you there’s an unnecessary apostrophe on the bottle. And if you listen to my dad…well, don’t. He liked STEAMWORKS PALE ALE. A lot. End of story.