Upon stumbling across Firetrucker Brewery's logo set in concrete outside its doors on my first visit, I had high expectations for this young brewery located in the old firehouse in Ankeny’s Uptown neighborhood. And after my first flight of beers – featuring the Steam Engine, First Responder Red (since replaced with the 2 Alarm Red), Burnout Brown, and Pumper Truck Porter – I was not disappointed.
The folks at Firetrucker have put a lot of attention to detail in creating a first-rate brewpub on their premises, along with some fine promotional artwork I was pleased to find was created by Scott Kaven, an old acquaintance of mine and a partner in the brewery. Scott created Firetrucker’s logo, beer tap handles, commemorative posters, T-shirts, and other items.
Such efforts aren’t lost on the beer. The one brew at Firetrucker that I always go back to is the Steam Engine, below left, the only steam beer I know of produced locally. A good, dependable beer: flavorful but not aggressively hoppy. Its stealthily enamoring. The Uptown IPA, below center, is most approachable for the hop novice, but satisfying enough for mature palates. Firetrucker’s 2 Alarm Red, below right, is malty, nominally bitter with a sweet finish. A beer for breakfast!
The Pumper Truck Porter, below left, offers deep flavors of coffee, currant, and a smidgen of molasses. Firetrucker's Cat in a Tree ginger beer, below center, is amazing! Gingery, lightly effervescent, and at only 4% ABV is an easy drinking brew. The latest release from Firetrucker is the Grizzly Stout, below right. Deep roasty malt, a touch of molasses, and a friendly smoke finish. A superior stout!
The three brews from Firetrucker Brewery that impress me the most are the Steam Engine, Cat in a Tree, and the Grizzly Stout. If I were given a choice of one beer to drink for the remainder of my days, that choice would be the Steam Engine. The Cat in a Tree is one of the most delicious and refreshing ginger beers I’ve ever tried, with or without alcohol. And the cherry wood smoked Grizzly Stout is as about as perfect a stout can get. They're all keepers in my book.