The Specs: Steamworks Brewery (Burnaby), Frambozen
650 mL; 7 per cent ABV; seasonal
Steamworks, I don’t know if it’s you or me, but this relationship isn’t working.
I like so much about you in theory. Your beautifully designed bottles, your intriguing and varied seasonal choices, but there’s always something… off. We don’t fit together, Steamworks. It’s not you, it’s me. Unless it’s you.
Frambozen, the company’s summer brew, is a pretty good case in point. Raspberry ale is an old standby for me — the first craft brew I ever drank, as a barely-legal 18 year old in Alberta.
With its gorgeous gemstone hue and a prominent, but not-overpowering berry scent, and less carbonation than some of the more commercial B.C. breweries (a plus to me — beers that fizz like soda wig me out a little), Frambozen seems like the ideal beer.
And it’s not bad. The raspberry is nice and centred in the sip, with a flavour that is recognizably found in nature. The beer is not too sweet, another death trap for berry beers.
But, like every Steamworks beer I’ve tried, this one has some odd, overly-assertive notes.
While the bitterness up front is fairly pleasant once you’re acclimated to the brew, the tart — no, sour finish of the beer never seems to get less jarring.
Even most of the way through the bottle, every sip ended with a jolt to the tastebuds. Though the fruit flavour in Frambozen is far, far superior, I couldn’t help but think of the Sour Puss Raspberry concoctions of my misspent youth, which finished with a similar zing.
I enjoy a challenging beer… to a point. But 650 mL of strong beer that keeps smacking me in the mouth is too much.
This is how I feel about every Steamworks beer, alas, whether it’s bitter notes in the wheat ale or soapy hops in the Pilsner. It’s just not meant to be.
Bottom line: If you like berry beer and want something to wake up your taste buds, this ought to do the trick.
As for Steamworks and me, it’s time we tried seeing other people.