Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Steamworks: Not Just Blowing Smoke

A year of living in Durango (a year? really? no way it's been that long! we moved here October 2012 and now it's...uh...wait, what day is it?) has given us plenty of reasons to celebrate, and in retrospect, I realize that many of those celebrations ended up at Steamworks Brewing Co. on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 8th Street. (How could we not, though? The Steamer's master brewers, Spencer and Ken, are Certified Cicerones! And no, that does not have anything to do with Italian food. It means they are to craft beer what a sommeliers are to fine wine! E.x.p.e.r.t.s. And they've got their beertenders and servers training to be experts, too! In short, these guys know what they're doing.)

The day we moved in, the Steamer was our first stop after dropping off the U-Haul. We capped a celebration of life and beauty and random happenstance in the dead of winter by being adventurous in our beer choices. Two of our dear friends escaped Albuquerque in order to raise Steamworks glasses to their new endeavor, the New Mexico Mercury, and to our own contributions to the online meeting-of-the-minds. And we've gone there to celebrate a year of supporting ourselves as writers, editors, and teachers, which is to say, to a year of working in our pajamas any time we so choose (like right now).

Also, when crispness is in the air, and it's both autumn and winter at the same time (you mean like in our apartment...cuz you keep the thermostat set at "Antarctica" while I crank the space heater up to "Bahamas"?), you just have to get out and enjoy it. (Y-y-yeah, g-g-get out-t-t there, f-f-f-folks!)

Outside our front door last Thursday.

So today, we escaped for an autumnal walk around the residential side of downtown and a bite n' sip at Steamworks.

The obvious choice of brew was the Slam Dunkel, which took home the gold medal for German-style wheat ales from the Great American Beer Festival. Alas, the Slam Dunkel had already won the gold medal that counts: it was so popular with locals that Steamworks ran it dry two days before it won the Brew-lympics. (The poor bartender had to wait around a while as we collapsed prostrate on the peanut-shelled floor and cry out: Noooooooo! Not fair! Waaaaahhhh!)

Our secondary choices were hardly consolation prizes. This barfly buzzed around a pint of Colorado Proud, which earns my personal gold medal, as just about the most drinkable IPA ever. (Like Ever ever? In the history of ever? Wow.) 

Imagine if you could eat your whole sack of Halloween candy without puking, and then tackle your little sister's, too. It tastes floral but not sweet, sharp but not bitter. I'm sure some self-proclaimed hopheads would scoff at its wimpiness, but I would point the finger right back and say they are insecure in their masculinity. (Even the lady hopheads.) (I pretty much agree on this one. The Colorado Proud is the most gentlemanly I.P.A. I've ever come across. The kind that holds doors open, or drapes its coat over puddles so ladies may ambulate without soiling their slippers! It is pride without prejudice. It is genteel. Rather than bitter, tongue-walloping hop, I tasted a bit of buttery tang. And I liked it!) 

See? The most dapper gentleman can wear a flower in his lapel without feeling threatened.

Oh, and the Colorado Proud is made of all locally grown ingredients. Chalk one up for the home team!

(Although I liked my sample of CO Proud, I did not order it because there was a barleywine on the menu! So, I ordered the "17," which tasted deliciously thick with quenching, succulent plums, but rich like a good fall cider. Its scent was slightly oak-y, like an old forest just after a drenching rain. And that is probably why I will always like barleywines. They a transportational beverages, capable of whisking back in time or through the portals between dimensions. One moment you're in Durango's Steamworks, and the next, you're basking in Sherwood Forest!) 

We sipped our steam-beers, while an employee brought out the Slam Dunkel's gold medal. He hung it off some pipe near the cash register, but I hollered that we couldn't see it from there. So, he draped it across the chalkboard beer menu. Applause bubbled up, boisterous enough to embarrass the fellow, then that was it. No ceremony or fuss. Back to beers-ness as usual. Which, honestly, is enough to celebrate right there.