Steamworks Steam Engine Lager

Steamworks Brewing Co.
Durango, CO
Steam Engine Lager

The can (nice!) claims that this is “Arguably the Best American Style Amber Ale in the World.” Well, that’s a tough argument to make. Amber is basically an unofficial designation, so we’d be lumping in some heavy hitters like Brooklyn Lager, Blue Point Toasted Lager, and even Sam Adams, not to mention hundreds of smaller houses’ examples.

Even a slightly glugged pour elicits only about a quarter-inch of white head, but the effervescence is lively and leaves a delicate archipelago atop the surface of the beer.

The color is burnt orange and toffee (lighter than the photo), and a slight haze obfuscates some of the steady streams of carbonation around the back of the glass.

The nose has a lot of honey and toffee aromas, very sweet like burnt brown sugar and molasses. There is something rich to the smell, too, like over-ripe fruit. It smells like more than a 5.5% beer, and hopefully that means a big malt body with some nice complexity.

The mouthfeel is good. As the beer edges around the side of the tongue, the middle of the palate gets a bit left behind at first. The sip is smooth – sweet honey and some candied fruits become more evident as the beer warms up a bit. There is a bit of dryness from the hops that takes over towards the end, but really you are left with a fairly refreshing, though not quite balanced amber lager.

While I didn’t find much in the way of hops here – grassy, floral, citrus or other – it still isn’t quite overwhelmingly malty, which is a good thing. This beer teeters between too sweet for my liking and just right as a change of pace from IPAs and pilsners that tend to have a lot of bite.

I dig the can, and I might suggest this to all you non-hopheads out there but it is not my style. I tend to like crisper beers and this one, while not cloying, needs some more bittering. I am biased, however, and anyone who loves their beer malty should check this out.

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