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


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.

5 reasons it’s okay the Canucks lost

The L.A. Kings after their winning goal

Hockey ended for the Canucks in 2011 with rioting, world-class ignominy for participating fans, and a legacy of heightened surveillance throughout Vancouver. Braced as the city has been for repeat hooliganism this year, the Canucks themselves solved the problem Sunday night by fizzling out in the first playoffs round.

I wouldn’t care so much if it weren’t for the beer flow inspired by NHL playoffs. You don’t have to follow hockey to know when the Canucks are getting successfully through April. The weather’s picking up; windows and doors are open; and you can hear cheers erupting through the neighborhood with each goal. Wander into a nearby yard and you can probably score a beer. (At least that’s what I tell my antisocial parents.) Sure, it’ll be a Canadian or a Labatt Blue, but chances are it’ll come out of an ice chest, half-frozen to that forgiving temperature necessary to really enjoy a macro brew from the Great White North.

Hitting the end of the road this early after reaching the finals last year is a real bummer. We’ll have to find other excuses to break out the beer, but at least there are a few bright spots:

  • Cars won’t be decked out with Canucks flags, which means the kids won’t demand why our car doesn’t sport unaerodynamic little rags whipping along in the wind until the Canucks lose.
  • Logging into Facebook I won’t see dozens of dorky status updates from fair-weather fans who become rabid every April, embarrassing themselves in their desperation to embrace hockey. They know the players’ middle names, for crying out loud. Last week they didn’t know what “offside” meant.
  • The kids won’t badger constantly for Canucks jerseys (and if they do, they’ll probably be on clearance).
  • There wasn’t a riot.
  • Last year's riot

    There won’t be calls for any additional Big Brother surveillance in Vancouver. Last year’s riot spawned a precedent-setting departure from traditional police investigations into crowd-sourcing—with Facebook and other social media being used as tools to identify rioters. This is the sort of surveillance-society development that isn’t reversed out of easily. Not only should it scare the crap out anyone who might have set a car on fire last year; it should worry anyone with a social media presence. There’s no question last year’s rioters were douchebags, and while they should be prosecuted, it’s alarming to think of investigators poring over people’s FB status updates looking for clues to their general whereabouts. Why? For starters, because so much of what people (bears included) say and post on FB is tongue-in-cheek or even just bullshit. Straining it for meaningful evidence seems like a colossal waste of time at the expense of people’s privacy.

So it’s great that there wasn’t a riot. But I still feel sad about all that hockey beer that will go unpoured.