As the only brewing company in Gastown, Steamworks beer has Gastown culture all over it: on it's labels you will recognize the Hotel Europe and the Woodwards building among other landmarks. But perhaps best of all, you can take a bit of Gastown home with you -- because every single beer gets a little bit of that famous Gastown Steamclock steam run through it.
In this photo: Walter (left) and Eli (right)
Why did you choose Gastown for a brewing company?
The juxtaposition is just fabulous for the brewing industry. It has some heartiness to it but it also has some flare to it. When we started looking at packaging our beer last year we tried to showcase Gastown culture and heritage through our packaging. Our Pale Ale has the famous Steam Clock on it. The Pilsner has Hotel Europe, and the Wheat Ale has the Woodwards on it.
What is steam brewing?
The steam that goes through the Steam Clock runs through Gastown. That same pipe runs through our brewery -- it's the same steam. When we built the brewery we thought it would be great to utilize that same steam in the brewing process, so we use that steam in our brew kettle.
What makes craft beer different?
For me, craft beer is all natural, no additives, no preservatives. The four core ingredients are malt, hops, yeast, and water and great brewers will add ingredients to make great flavours. We added oatmeal to the Oatmeal Stout, raspberries to our Frabozen, and coffee to our Espresso. But these are all natural ingredients and there is nothing added to give it shelf life.
Craft breweries are also cutting edge in the way of flavour profiles.
Why did you start making bottled beer?
There are more and more consumers interested in drinking interesting beers. We have always had a lot of people asking for Steamworks in packaged product and the brew pub's been a local favorite for the beer quality they've been making and our brewing Conrad Gmoser is a big part of that. The response has been great.
What do you think sets your Pale Ale apart form the rest?
I give a lot of kudos to our brewmaster Conrad for his recipe development on this one; it's a real true Pacific Northwest Pale Ale that is a great balance of malt and hops. I'd say what sets it apart is the hop character. Traditionally Pale Ales on the West Coast were more malt-based, but the latest movement has been to add more hops to the beer to give it more bitterness and aroma flavours. I think he's found a perfect balance of a malt-based Pale Ale that has also has some great aroma hops and finishing hops in the beer.
We look at Portland, Oregon and Seattle for what's happening in the craft beer movement. We see the growth continuing in British Columbia and the lower Mainland.
Do you have a personal favorite?
Beer is all based on occasion. It all depends on what I'm doing. If I am sitting down to a nice meal or about to watch a hockey game I am probably going to grab our Pale Ale. If I am looking for beer that I might have three of four of that night I would pick our Pilsner -- it's got some hops to it and some bitterness but it's a nice, pure, clean beer. If I am sitting on a hot spring day on the patio, I would grab our Frambozen.
It is really is all about occasion. Food and beer pairing is another thing that has become very popular and it is something that we want to do a lot of at Steamworks.
Are there any go-to pairings you'd recommend?
If you've got a real spicy food, you want something clean and crisp like a Pilsner to cut through that spice and compliment it. If you are going with bigger meals like roast or steak, you want a robust beer that will stand up to it. A Wheat Ale is just the perfect match for seafood.