If there’s an official beverage of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, it’s the Face Plant Ale.
Brewed by both Steamworks Brewing Co. and Ska Brewing Co., the beer celebrating this weekend’s iconic event is one of the oldest collaborations in the industry. The two breweries first came together to brew the ale back in 1995.
The beer itself, however, has been anything but consistent.
“It was a pale ale, and then it was heavier-handed, more IPA-like,” said Ken Martin, head brewer at Steamworks, “then it was a red, amber-colored hefeweizen and it was unfiltered (the theme there was mud and blood); it’s been a Czech pilsne – the beer we made this year and last year I don’t think really fits any style guidelines per say.”
Last year’s version of the Face Plant Ale, a light lager, was enough of a hit that Ska and Steamworks wanted to repeat it – with some minor changes, including a lighter lemon-lime flavor.
“Last year’s version sold so well that we wanted to do something pretty similar, so we kept the same grain bill and the addition of the electrolytes and changed up all the hops,” said Kurt Randall, head brewer at Ska. “We’re not adding lime and lemon peel to it this year ... but most of the hops we use have some sort of citrusy character to them.”
The recipe for this year’s and last’s Face Plant serves a practical purpose, he said.
“We realized that lower-alcohol beers were better for the racers. They’re coming in exhausted and one beer’s going to usually do them pretty well, and … for the rest of the public, keeping it pretty sessionable, being able to drink three or four of them without getting too tipsy,” he said.
The beer was made with gluten-reduced ingredients and will come in at about 5% ABV, Martin said. The batch typically all but sells out by the end of Iron Horse weekend.
“It should be a nice, light refreshing beer and good for all the athletes in town who are looking to have a beer but not get dehydrated,” he said.