On Friday, we were able to swing into the first brewery to open in Aberdeen, WA in over 70 years. Steam Donkey Brewing is a smaller venue currently housing 4 of their own beers, as well as a couple of guest taps.
The Steam Donkey was a machine first used in the logging industry to pull felled lumber out of the woods. Because Aberdeen was known as a logging town since it’s inception, it seems only fitting that Jon and Stefanie chose to name their brewery after an important piece of the local history. Maybe we’ll start seeing more of their beers named after local history or locations, as well.
As this was my first time here, I thought the best way to get an idea of what they have to offer was to try a flight of the 4 beers brewed onsite. It’s great to get a variety of styles when ordering any flight of beer, especially one where all of the beers are produced in-house.
The beers are in order from 1 – 4 as noted in the tap list. The first beer, “The Local,” is a strong bitter ale. Brewed in a traditional bitter style, I found this to be the little brother to many of the ESB style beers I have had in the past. The lighter malt profile allowed the bitterness of the hops stand out, but it wasn’t so bitter that I couldn’t enjoy it. While not a perfect ration of malt to hops, it was still a good brew that I will likely grab a full pint of the next time I’m in the area.
From here, we moved to the second beer on the list, called the Mountains Out IPA. At a hefty 7.6% ABV, this beer could almost be called an Imperial IPA. However, at a 52 IBU, it’s hard to put it in that category. It does drink closer to a pale ale than an IPA, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try the next time you’re in the area. The higher ABV and lower IBU make for a good combination.
Although it’s number 4 on the list, I actually had the Düzer Belgian Pale third. You might wonder why I would try them out of order, but the answer is more simple than you would think. I try to go from lighter color to darker colored beers. This helps me appreciate the sweeter taste of chocolates in some of the darker beers, as well as keeps my palate from letting those darker roast notes from interfering with the hoppy flavors of an IPA.
The Düzer was a unique pale to me. When I took that first drink I could get almost a pepper or coriander taste from it. This gives a lighter ale such as this one a great character that also hides it’s deceptive 5.8% ABV. While I’m not a huge fan of Belgian Ales, I do like to try new ones and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. When you first look at it, you almost think it will be more like a golden ale as opposed to a belgian, but it has those hop flavors you won’t find in a golden.
Finally, the fourth beer of the night was the Gypsy Head Brown Porter. Just as it’s name implies, this beer tastes like a brown ale and a porter had a bitterly chocolate baby and then that baby punched you in the face with a sweet finish. The IBU rating on this beer doesn’t do it justice, as that appears to be simply from the hops and doesn’t take into account the cocoa notes and flavors that you get. If you are a fan of porters, make sure you give this one a try.
The only think I regret about or visit on Friday is that it was so packed we were unable to sit and talk with Jon and Stephanie. From what little interaction we had with them and their staff, though, I can tell that this place will be a great place to stop in for a pint. They don’t serve food at Steam Donkey Brewing, so you’ll want to bring your own with you if you’d like to grab a bite. However, as they are downtown in Aberdeen, I don’t think that will be an issue. From pizza, to chinese, to mexican, to burgers and fries, you should be able to find just about anything you want to bring in. There’s also plenty of board games to play while you’re there, so make sure you grab some friends and share the experience of the first brewery open in Aberdeen since the 1940’s.