Normally, even if we haven't made it around to trying a beer from a particular brewery, we've heard of the company before. But we admit we'd never heard of Steamworks Brewing Co. of Durango, Colorado before trying the brewery's Third Eye Pale Ale recently.
We even visited the brewery's Web site and clicked around on the various brews after bringing the Third Eye home to see if we ran across anything familiar -- and came up empty.
We'll have to make an effort to search out some of the brewer's other offerings, however, because the pale ale was excellent. It was fairly heavy, weighing in at 7.16 percent alcohol, but we really didn't taste the booze.
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The first thing to note, other than the warm and welcoming color, was that the bubbles were larger than normal in the head. True beer nerds will need to weigh in on this, but we've always associated that with creamier brews. Whether we're right to associate the two or not, it was certainly true in this case.
This is, hands down, no question, the creamiest pale ale we've ever had. We imagine some people might like the masochism of a raucously acidic pale ale, but for us this creaminess was a positive trait. It didn't necessarily mean the brew was weak or subdued -- there were plenty of hops in there. They just didn't shred your throat on the way down. Any malt showed up mainly around the edges, literally, with that balance seeming to find only the corners of the mouth.
Another point worth making is that the finish was quick and crisp, though not without some pleasant flavors (bitter and otherwise) in the aftertaste. Our chief complaint with some (maybe most) pale ales is that they finish so hop-heavy that eventually your tongue is practically numb and you can't taste any of the subtleties the brewer included. This beer doesn't present that problem.
Lastly, not to abdicate our responsibility to talk about the brew ourselves, but we were happy to find (via the Steamworks Web site) a review of this offering from beer author/sage/guru/deity Michael Jackson, whose impressions were similar. If you want a pro's take, pay the brewery a virtual visit.